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Russian folk art | ©Igor Kon/ Pixabay
Russian folk art | ©Igor Kon/ Pixabay
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8 Festivals Taking Place During World Cup 2018

Picture of Zita Whalley
Updated: 27 September 2017
A slew of cultural festivities and events are in preparation as Russia gets ready for the 2018 World Cup, so don’t let a lack of interest in football get in the way of getting caught up in the excitement that will engulf Russia during competition-time. Alongside the games, each host city will offer cultural events guaranteed to keep the areas buzzing all through the day and night. Get amongst the festivities with these picks of the best cultural occasions each host city has to offer.

White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg’s summer days stretch into the night because of the city’s latitude and, at the height of summer, the city sees little darkness, thanks to the midnight sun. The White Nights Festival, from 26 May to 23 July 2018, celebrates these gauzy nights and the Russian long-standing appreciation for the arts, by opening up cultural institutions, including the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theatre, with a programme of ballet, opera, art and music. The festival culminates in the Scarlet Sails, a public event that sees a lit-up ship sail down the Neva River as fireworks light up the sky.

Hermitage theatre, Palace Embankment, 34, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190000, +7 812 571 3465

Mariinsky theatre, Theatre Square, 1, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190000, +7 812 326 4141

Scarlet Sails, St Petersburg
Scarlet Sails, St Petersburg | ©Sergey Nikolaev/Flickr
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Keeping in line with the city’s industrial roots, the Stenograffia Festival in July shows off a style of art Yekaterinburg is getting a name for. The theme changes annually and previously exhibited artists have brightened up the city with artistic responses to themes such as Europe-Asia, The Image of Happiness, Global Mind and Theory of Forms. Both established and emerging artists are invited to take part. While themes are only announced at the beginning of each year, the World Cup is set to impact this festival, as organisers aim to create a discussion about the competition’s impact on Yekaterinburg.

Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia

Kazan International Festival of Muslim Cinema

An annual event since 2005, the festival in September has a focus on creating cultural conversations through film, while celebrating Muslim cinematographers and film-makers from Russia, Europe and across the globe. Over 50 countries are represented at the multi-lingual festival, with a programme of cinema that promotes the ideas of peacemaking, tolerance and humanity, and that reflects spiritual and moral values, as well as cultural traditions.

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As a send-off to spring and a celebartion of nature, Aksha Kelu (meaning “white birch”), is an annual holiday at the start of June, held in the Republic of Mordovia. People decorate their houses with birch branches and dress up in national costumes as they sing songs about nature. A highlight of the festivities is the belt wrestling, in which both boys and girls compete. A Tatar tradition and one of the oldest sports around, components must knock the other over by way of a belt looped across the back of the body.

Saransk, Mordovia, Russia

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Bizon Track Show, Rostov-on-Don

With an audience that can be up to 40 thousand strong, it appears a lot of people like to watch tractors race, and competitors come from all across Russia to take part in the Bizon Track Show in June. A contact competition and a spectator sport, tractors have to race against each other and the clock, while they negotiate fire, water, foam, twists and turns and pits on an extreme obstacle course. The course is designed to create a high-impact spectacle, and something must be going right, because the audiences are growing every year.

Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia

Bison Track Show| Curtesy of Bison Track Show

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Krutushka is a folk music festival held each August, that has been going in Krutushka, a small village near Kazan, since 2009 that pulls together contemporary and traditional ethnic music from cultures around the world. The music is diverse and eclectic, and can range from Tibetan throat-singing accompanied by a rock band to art-folk collectives and folk groups local to Tatarstan. There is also a schedule of theatre, cinema, folk arts and visual arts and crafts to see alongside the music.

Kazan, Tartastan, Russia

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With the rugged beauty of the Zhiguli Mountains and the immense Volga as a backdrop, this classical music festival, held in June, looks as exquisite as it sounds. Located in the region’s second city, Tolyatti which is not far from Samara, it brings together the old hands and rising stars of Russia’s vibrant classical music scene. With an emphasis on creating performance opportunities for emerging artists, this is the festival to go to if you want to see some of Russia’s finest symphony orchestras. The programme also includes classical music and art cruises along the Volga.

Tolyatti, Samara Oblast, Russia

Фестиваль музыки и искусств «Тремоло» – за эксперименты и смешение жанров. Однажды во время выступления оркестра над зрителями парили гимнастки, в другой раз – катались на роликах, в третий – ведущие солисты Большого театра исполнили самые известные оперные арии в рок-обработке. Никто не знает, что будет в 2017 году. Но что-то будет… Не упусти главное событие лета, приезжай в Тольятти! Билеты – на #тлт #тольятти #тольяттинцы #тольяттисити #тольятти2017 #классиканадволгой #тремолофест #тремолофест2017

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If you ever wanted to weld a sword, here is your chance. Now the state sport of the Rostov region, Shermicii, held in May, is a traditional Cossack competition whose roots lie in a rite-of-passage display of courage and bravery, when boys transitioned into warriors. The competition includes wrestling, fighting, fencing, archery, horse riding, horseback fencing and horseback archery. On top of this display, there are also performances of Cossack singing, traditional foods and classes on how to use traditional Cossack weaponry.

Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, Russia