Maslenitsa Festival (Shrovetide Fun)

Where: The Museum of Wooden Architecture in Suzdal

Time: Every year on Forgiveness Sunday (the last day before Lent)

Shrovetide Fun, or the Maslenitsa Festival, is an especially bright and merry holiday in Suzdal. The Vladimir and Suzdal Museum organizes a number of exciting events, including goose fights, which have become one of Suzdal’s many calling cards. Since 2004 the festival has been held in Suzdal’s Museum of Wooden Architecture.

Visitors to the festival can participate in traditional games and Russian carnival traditions. These include climbing up the Maslenitsa pole, a pancake-eating contest, and the famous storm of the snow fortress. On the grounds of the museum, Russian epic heroes and medieval knights (members of historical reconstruction clubs) face off again in bloodless fights. At a master class, visitors can make a traditional doll-amulet—a small replica of the Maslenitsa. Unlike the big Maslenitsa doll, which is always burnt at the climax of the festival, according to Russian tradition, the souvenir one can be kept at home for years, remembering your lucky days in Suzdal.

No Maslenitsa celebration is complete without music. The concert program of the Maslenitsa Festival includes performances by the best folk groups from Suzdal and the Vladimir area, as well as from other regions. There are special contests, games, and puppet shows, which are usually organized for children with the participation of Petrushka – the main character of old Russian puppet shows.

Goose fights are one of the most spectacular parts of the Suzdal Maslenitsa Festival. This traditionally male activity was once very popular in Russia and now the tradition has been revived in Suzdal. Geese begin their fight only if there is a "support group" on each side – at least two females that hiss, scream and flap their wings, adding to the excitement of the show. The first goose to run from the battlefield loses. It may seem strange, but this fight is absolutely bloodless and natural for the participants. The goose fights at the Suzdal Maslenitsa Festival attract more and more spectators every year and always makes an impression.

Organizers of the Maslenitsa Festival in Suzdal are sure: after such a cheerful seeing-off of the winter, the spring won’t make you wait for long!

Festival of Folk Crafts on Holy Trinity Day (Pentecost)

Location: The Museum of Wooden Architecture in Suzdal

Time: Annually, on the 50th day after Easter (a Sunday in May or June)

Already a 30-year-old tradition, The Festival of Folk Crafts brings blacksmiths, embroiderers, and potters to Suzdal from all over Russia. Visitors can learn how a basket is born from straw in the hands of a skillful craftsman, or how a miraculous flower is embroidered on a canvas; they can even learn some of the secrets of traditional Russian folk arts themselves.

The best bands and dance groups of the Vladimir area are invited to Suzdal for the festival, treating visitors to Russian folk music and songs.

Children are always special guests at the festival—they can participate in master classes on making birch bark dolls and watch puppet shows in the open-air theatre. The most dexterous and skillful children take part in the ancient Russian Gorodki game.

The climax of the festival is always the performance of one of Vladimir’s traditional women’s rituals. Just like many centuries ago, a small, beautifully dressed girl passes over the path of the crossed arms of other young women. She picks a spike of wheat from the field and lays it at the door of the church. This is how Russian peasants prayed for a good harvest in the old times. 

The holiday ends with an ancient ritual, Farewell to the Birch. Girls in folk costumes walk down to the Kamenka river and throw birch twigs into the water.

Tourists can take home various handmade souvenirs: dolls, straw boxes, jewelry made of copper and clay, clothes in the Slavic style, painted or glazed baked ceramics, and much more.

Apple Feast of the Saviour

Location: Suzdal, the Monastery of the Saviour and St. Euthymius

Time: Annually, on August 19th

The Apple Feast of the Saviour* in Suzdal is worth visiting not only for its religious traditions but also for the extensive and interesting festive program organized by the staff of the Vladimir and Suzdal Museum. Guests of the festival are offered a traditional garden-fruit fair, various master classes, fascinating folk-music concerts, and the unforgettable performance of the Blagovest male a capella choir.

Every year, after a festive service in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration with the blessing of August fruits, the procession to the former Abbot's garden begins. The former Abbot’s garden is the setting of the festival of spiritual and folk music, and includes a stage and spectators' seats.

This musical and theatrical performance takes place on the grounds of the ancient Monastery of the Saviour and St. Euthymius included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, making for an unforgettable celebration.

The holiday program is sure to leave a fun and vivid impression. Children and adults learn to make folk toys and paint ceramic plates and cups at the master classes, and young spectators always enjoy the puppet show.

The Apple Feast of the Saviour is a harvest festival. Tourists and museum visitors have the opportunity to buy goods and souvenirs. Here you can taste and buy some fragrant Suzdal honey, fruits from local gardens, hand-made leather goods, wooden and ceramic toys, and traditional clothes from different regions of Russia.

Every year, children from all parts of Russia and abroad come to Suzdal for the festival, participate in the drawing contest, and have a wonderful experience.

Over the years, the Apple Feast of the Saviour festival has gained popularity, with many people returning to Suzdal with their families and friends yearly.

* The Apple Feast of the Saviour is an Eastern Slavic folk name for the Feast of the Transfiguration, which is observed on August, 19.

International Cucumber Festival

Location: The Museum of Wooden Architecture in Suzdal

Time: International Cucumber Festival

The International Cucumber Festival in the open-air is visited by thousands of tourists from different countries and all regions of Russia. Each year the event becomes more diverse and memorable.

One of the main features of the festival is the competition for Best Cucumber of the Russian Land. Every festival attendee has the chance to participate in the competition by voting for one of the three cucumber candidates. Voters make their decision based on a number of cucumber-related games such as Cucumber Tetris, fortune-telling with Cucumbers, Greenhouse Arts, and more.

The festival program offers an abundance of surprises, music, and a good atmosphere, with games like Brine Battle, Garden Volleyball and so on.

Tourists and visitors of the International Cucumber Festival in Suzdal will be able to taste a variety of dishes and drinks from the famous cucumber menu, based on the deep traditions of Suzdal Opolye. The best folk groups of Russia will perform on the main stage of the festival.

The organizers prepare a separate program for children. Interactive master classes and workshops are held on the grounds of the Museum of Wooden Architecture throughout the day.

The logical conclusion of the Cucumber Festival is the solemn ceremony of inauguration of the Best Cucumber of the Russian land, and the launching of a cucumber-shaped doll dragged by a helium balloon.

Christmas Celebration

Location: The Museum of Wooden Architecture in Suzdal

Time: Annually, on Christmas (January 7th)

The Vladimir and Suzdal Museum’s annual Christmas celebration recreates the Christmas celebrations of the olden times. The celebration takes place amidst authentic log houses, creaking windmills, wooden churches, wells, and barns. People sing and dance to the sounds of original Russian musical instruments—the dancing is infectious. Visitors sing Christmas carols and folk songs. Open-air performances take place every hour. Visitors can play a tug-of-war game, fight in a straw sack battle, or walk on stilts. Children are the special guests of the festival: they play traditional Russian games and have fun with Petrushka, the main character of old Russian puppet shows. There are a number of performances for kids, as well as the chance to make a Christmas souvenir at a magic master class. 

Once you spend your Christmas in Suzdal, you’ll want to come back to enjoy old-time Russia and try Suzdal’s famous mead!