New Year’s 2020 in St. Petersburg
Where are the best places to meet the New Year in St. Petersburg?
- Palace Square: With the main fireworks display and biggest names in Russian music all centered around the Hermitage; this is undoubtedly the heart of St. Petersburg’s celebrations.
- Luxury Hotels: The grandest soirees will take place in all of St. Petersburg’s 5* hotels. With many of them being housed in palaces themselves, the evening’s merriments there will truly be a royal affair.
- Bars: For the young at heart, Russian bars provide the vibrant and oh-so-blingy backdrop to an unforgettable night.
- Theatre: For the Russian intelligentsia, a trip to the theatre on New Year is as compulsory as a bottle of champagne.
Without a doubt, New Year is the loudest, largest and rowdiest Russian holiday. Though it is true that Russian New Year shares a few of Christmas’s traditions, such as Father Frost hiding presents under a Christmas tree, it is definitely not a stay-at-home and light a fire kind of celebration; it’s more like turn the speakers up and set the fireworks off!
Though there are many ways of celebrating New Year’s Eve, there are three vital ingredients which are a must in any Russian New Year’s party:
1. Pre-Midnight Feast: Blinis, Pâtés, Vodka Shots and, of course, as many salads as you can shake a spoon at; Christmas dinner looks paltry in comparison!
2. The President’s New Year’s Address: It’s a little-known fact, that in Russia they don’t set fireworks off at midnight. The reason, as with almost every single issue in Russia, is the presidential New Year’s address. Many households tune in to the usual, sobering speech from their president at 12:00.
3. Fireworks: Russia is reckless. Regulations regarding fireworks are no different. In fact, they’re practically non-existent. On every piece of open land, all manners of devices are set alight throughout the night, as well as the next day, the next night and so on till one either goes crazy or simply becomes deaf to the bangs!
Now regardless of budget or other constraints, anyone can easily enjoy the last two essential parts of the Russian New Year in St. Petersburg. On New Year’s Eve, the whole of Nevsky Prospekt is corded off and turned into one giant street party! Bright as day with the strings of twinkling lights, loud as hell with all the simultaneous concerts going on and with more people than imaginable; Petersburgers pull out all the stops for this once-in-a-year event. Follow the screams of teens and vibrations of bass, and you’ll find the main scene of the celebration which takes place in front of the Hermitage on Palace Square. The show on the main stage will start at 11pm, but we recommend that you don’t rush and instead take your time walking the whole length of Nevsky and get to Palace Square at around 2 am. That way, you’ll get to enjoy all the side-shows along the way, pop into a buzzing cafe or club lining the streets to warm up with a drink (in principle, alcohol is not allowed on Palace Square so grab the opportunity!) and at 12, a moment of silence for the President’s speech which will be on the screens of many establishments.
Once at Palace Square, you won’t have time to get cold. The main stage promises a line-up of Russia’s most famous stars and there’ll be wooden carts with steaming cauldrons of glühwein and whirling vats of cotton candy. When 3 am strikes, a continuous stream of fireworks will burst into a medley of colors above the golden spire of Peter and Paul Fortress for a good quarter of an hour. The banks of the Neva in front of the Hermitage offer the best view, but for those who don’t feel at home in a crowd, Strelka on Vasilyevski Island is a quieter vantage point from which to enjoy the smashing show.
Once the last sparkles of the firework show fade, turn away from the crowds and Nevsky, and stroll down the banks of the frozen Neva (but please not on it!). Should you be staying outside the center, you needn’t worry about transport as the metro is operational throughout the night. Indeed, such are the feelings of merriment in the metro— with people randomly bursting into song and then shouting “S NOVIM GODOM” (Happy New Year) at the top of their lungs— that even those who don’t need to use it should venture down the escalators to see how Russians unite on this rare occasion.
All of the above can be enjoyed without spending a single cent but no New Year can be said to be complete without a banquet a lá Russe. Almost every single restaurant and hotel will have a special evening planned for New Year, however non-Russian speakers are best sticking to the ones recommended below so as to avoid sitting through a night of jokes which you don’t understand!
Grand Hotel Europe
Being the most venerable establishment in St Petersburg, the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe is the place to greet the New Year with the creme de la creme of St. Petersburg society and a flute of Dom Pérignon in hand. This year’s theme will see its ever-so grand restaurant Europe transformed into a land of ice and thick forest. As a stream of never-ending sumptuous dishes are served up, the ballets of the Nutcracker and the Snow Queen will be performed with breath-taking grace just a few tantalizing meters away from the tables.
Tickets start at 53, 500 roubles per person.
For those who’d prefer flavors more faithful to Russian tradition than foie gras and prime steak, then the Caviar bar will surely not fail to delight the taste buds with the king of all Russian delicacies: black, sturgeon caviar. But this caviar won’t be coming from a jar, it’ll be milked right from the ovaries of a live sturgeon by the bar’s caviar expert.
Tickets cost 49, 500 roubles per person.
Upstairs in the Azia restaurant, the DJ’s and spicy sashimi promise to make for a lively and vibrant evening. Apart from the trendy beats, there’ll be a mystery Indonesian shadow show to take you through to the wee hours of the morning.
Tickets cost 19,000 roubles per person.
For those who just need their loved ones, a good arm chair and mellow jazz in the background, then the VIP lounge at the Lobby Bar promises to make this New Year a convivial and cozy affair. Canapés, cocktails and bucket-loads of champers will make the evening whirl away.
Pre-paid deposit of 30,000 roubles for a table for 4 people.
Find the menus and other details here:
The velvety-red awnings of the Astoria Hotel are instantly recognizable to any true Petersburger. As well as its luxurious interiors, this hotel is renowned for the list of illustrious, mostly literary guests that have stayed in its marble-floored suites. There’s undoubtedly no better place to celebrate New Year in high society than the Astoria Restaurant. The seven-course meal planned for New Year’s Eve, which will include flamboyant flavors like avocado and mango or lemongrass and coconut, will be as explosive on the taste buds as the firework show later on. Along with the culinary delights, free-flowing wines, vodka, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will keep the atmosphere buzzing all night long. And, with a jazz band playing all the swingin’ hits, this soiree will truly reach the height of refinement.
Tickets cost 29,000 rub per person. Children 7-12 yrs enjoy 50% off and children 6 and below are free of charge.
For those who have a taste for the trendy, the Borsalino Restaurant at the ever so chic Angleterre Hotel will be transformed into a full-blown Milano fashion show! Guests will get to realize their modelling aspirations on the catwalk in the center of the restaurant, while those who are more camera-shy can choose to take part in the role of a fashion photographer or front-row celebrity. An MC will keep the ball rolling throughout the evening and the modern-ballet company LuxOr along with the singer Merem will entertain once guests are worn out from all the strutting and posing. Naturally, the food will be in keeping with the Italian theme. Guests are welcome to weigh their plates down with all manners of Tuscan delights from the buffet which includes a live tuna tartar station! Prosecco toasts will punctuate the most-important moments of the night, while good Italian wines will keep the evening flowing till the first-light.
Cost depends upon the location of the table, tickets cost either 16 000, 19 000 or 21 000 roubles for one guest. Children 7-12 yrs enjoy 50% off and children 6 and below are free of charge.
A more authentic and undoubtedly rowdier New Year’s party can be had at the ever-so fashionable Buddha-Bar. There, within its dark gold and red rooms, the hippest DJs will play the best of beats to dance the last moments of the year to. Their bespoke cocktails are particularly well-known for their fieriness, so there’ll and their nibbles are deliciously indulgent.
Tickets costs 15,000 roubles per person or 20,000 roubles for access to the wine and VIP room.
The majority of Russians would call a night of feasting and partying, a New Year done well, but there are some refined folk—especially among Petersburgers—who wouldn’t dream of popping the champagne until they had first been to the theatre for their yearly dose of culture. Though there’s a dazzling array of New Year’s shows on offer, many will only be in Russian. Thankfully, the crowning jewel of this high-society merriment enraptures audiences through the language of dance alone. That jewel is of course, The Nutcracker. And not just any Nutcracker; it has to be The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky. There are two performances on the 31st, one at 12:00 and the other at 18:00. To ensure you get a seat at this thoroughly Russian and thoroughly royal performance, book tickets as early in advance as possible!