The long Russian winters are of course legendary, but to make up for the prolonged icy weather, the city's cultural life reaches a peak between October and April, when many prestigious film and theatre festivals, artistic premieres and sporting fixtures take place.
To say that St Petersburg is a premier destination for classical ballet, opera and theatre – not to mention art, sculpture and a whole range of musical genres - would be an understatement. While few visitors can resist the charms of the Mariinsky Ballet and Opera Theatre, the Hermitage or the Alexander Theatre however, the Nicholas Palace, long-term home of Russia’s last Czar, Nicholas 11, offers a change of pace with stirring Cossack dancing performed by graduates of the best dance and music schools. More classical musical entertainment is on offer at the Philharmonic Hall.
The city earned a reputation as something of a clubber’s paradise in the 1990’s and today, the bars and nightclubs are as plentiful as they are varied. Strike it lucky and you may find yourself hob-nobbing with members of Russia’s political and business elite.
Wherever you go in the centre of St Petersburg, you will be aware of the ever-flowing River Neva. As you savour the night-time views of the city from the vantage point of a barge - gently passing through the canals on a warm summer evening – you won’t be surprised to learn that another of its sobriquets is ‘Venice of the North.’