Easter is a prominent holiday in St Petersburg's religious and cultural calendar. But services and events are not limited to only those who follow the Orthodox church, and a welcome is laid forth for any or all who wish to experience the beauty and atmosphere of the Easter celebrations. Easter in St Petersburg takes place according to the Orthodox calendar and so usually falls on a date in late April. Visit at this time and you'll also have the chance to experience this great city in milder weather as spring has truly sprung. It is also the calm before the storm of tourist season, meaning you can enjoy even the most popular sights in relative quiet. Here are a few pointers on how to spend Easter in St Petersburg.
Easter masses and blessing services are an imposing experience not only due to the weight and collective passion of the services themselves but also because you have a chance to experience them at one of the many outstanding cathedrals in St Petersburg. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is perhaps the most well-known image of St Petersburg. Built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was killed, the exterior sports golden domes that reflect a burnished shimmer in sunlight, while the interior is coated with spectacular mosaics. Kazan Cathedral houses the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan and was built to match Saint Peter's cathedral in Rome. While many of these churches and cathedrals are now mainly used as museums, most still offer services during Easter. These are solemn and oftentimes lengthy affairs filled with prayer, songs and the lighting of candles so numerous that the heat of them is palpable to all within the confines of the church.
The Easter celebrations in St Petersburg are preceded by a week of spiritual and cultural events that lead up to the day itself. As well as a number of church services that include the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday, there are also a series of cultural events that are organised by the city into a comprehensive Easter festival. These include fairs, concerts, entertainment and even egg painting and egg hunts for children. The city itself takes on a new life during this period, as peals of bells ring out across the city at regular intervals, while streets, churches and important buildings are decked out in fragrant flowers and colourful lace.
Like in many other countries, decorating eggs in bright colours is an Easter-time tradition in St Petersburg that dates back centuries. However, if you are looking to enjoy an Easter egg expedition like no other, we recommend a trip to the Faberge museum. The first Faberge egg was commissioned by Emperor Alexander III as a special Easter surprise for his wife. The tradition caught on amongst the Imperial family and they continued to order the creation of these opulent eggs adorned in gold and priceless gems. And 15 of these breathtaking artefacts are stored in the Faberge museum, along with 1500 other works from the famous jeweller extraordinaire, Peter Carl Faberge. The museum itself is almost a match for the works inside in terms of its beauty and extravagance. To take a journey into it is to step back in time to a by-gone era of wealth, majesty and creativity.
An Easter trip to St Petersburg means you will be just in time for an experience that is not available all year round. April signals the beginning of the season of 'raised bridges.' At night, all the bridges along the Neva River are raised to allow for larger cargo boats to transverse the city. Witnessing the raising of these 21 drawbridges from the deck of a boat has now become a popular nighttime activity for tourists. It also offers a unique and picturesque way to take in some of the most historic areas of the city from a new perspective.