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Guide to Theaters of St. Petersburg

When the day comes to an end in St. Petersburg and its palaces close their doors, inquisitive travelers head to the world-renowned Mariisnky, Mikhailovsky, or Hermitage theaters. St. Petersburg is the soul of Russia’s culture and beauty. Peter the Great and other Russian emperors were obsessed with turning Russia from a barbaric mystery into a classy European power, and harnessed St. Petersburg as the brainchild of this movement. The world’s finest theaters were the result of this drive for civility and lured artistic talents from every corner of the world.
 

When the Soviets came to power they established a new, more selective art. What did not fit the mold of social realism was scrapped as bourgeoisie, a dangerous movement for most art. St. Petersburg's theaters survived, but only by agreeing to put aside their famous playbills. Once communism collapsed the theaters returned to their former glory, rejuvenating their playbills and façades.

Today St. Petersburg is the world’s capital for ballet, opera, and theater. Every serious performer dreams of working in the city’s array of gorgeous theaters due to its resilient history, rich appreciation for the art, and booming tourism. Thanks to the 4.5 million local inhabitants and 10 million tourists who visit St. Petersburg each year, the demand for the best performances is staggering. Theater has become to St. Petersburg what baseball is to New York – a cultural institution.

Choosing the venue

The best theaters in St. Petersburg are the Mikhailovsky, the Mariinsky, and the Hermitage. The Mariinsky, also known as the Kirov, is the largest and the most lavish of the theaters. The Mikhailovsky is smaller yet has become increasingly more popular under its new world-class director and fresh renovations. The Hermitage Theater is located just inside the Winter Palace, which adds the charm of a museum to the venue’s already dazzling atmosphere.

Theater Tips

All of St. Petersburg’s venues are fantastic, but if the language barrier is a concern, see an opera or ballet – you will get the experience of St. Petersburg’s theaters without the discomfort of a foreign language. Proper attire for a theater performance is business casual – ties but not black ties; dresses but not evening gowns.

Good tickets to each venue will cost about the same, from $95 to $195. It is not wise to wait until you arrive in St. Petersburg to book your ticket – seats fill up quickly, which may make only the expensive tickets available if you wait until a few days before a performance. This is why we encourage our customers to book tickets in advance.

If you are visiting St. Petersburg on a river cruise, you will be able to purchase theater tickets on the ship. These tickets will be significantly overpriced though (up to $250/ticket), whereas if you book ahead you can get the same tickets for up to 50% less.

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