15 Jun The World Cup: Moscow & St Petersburg
World Cup Fever is about to hit, with the 2018 FIFA World Cup being held at various stadiums throughout Russia. Whilst not into the football ourselves, we are fans of this incredible country, in fact our MD even studied there many moons ago. The country has changed a lot since then, but has retained its heritage and is an excellent choice for a short haul incentive or conference. For many of the groups which we have taken there, it was not what they were expecting.
Founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, St Petersburg was the imperial capital for 2 centuries, it is now known as the cultural capital and the second largest city of Russia. Located on the Neva river and at the head of the Gulf of Finland. The forward thinking Tsar commissioned Italian architects to design and build the new capital which has resulted in a spellbinding city and it being the most “western” of all Russian cities.
Majestic and magical, dubbed the Venice of the north, the city has 42 islands, 65 waterways and 360 bridges. Baroque and Neoclassical buildings line it’s canals, whilst a plethora of churches, art galleries, palaces and museums provide plenty of distractions when the weather is cold! Many of these incredible locations provide stunning venues for Gala Dinners and Awards Ceremonies.
The Hermitage, once the former winter residence of the Russian Tsars, boasts one of the best museums in the world. A stunning architectural masterpiece in itself, if you venture inside you could be there for 15 years, if you wanted to see every one of the 3,000,000 works of art housed there.
White Nights happen during May and June, when it doesn’t get dark and the city becomes even more magical.
There are plenty of deluxe hotels to choose from in the city, many being created in former palaces and mansions. Some of our favourites include the Four Seasons Lion Palace, the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, Hotel Astoria and the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22. In addition to these you can find all the big hotel chains represented in the city.
Activities in the city are varied as well as the cultural visits, why not try your hand at painting your own Matryoshka doll; or take a private cruise along the rivers and waterways followed by private access to the Hermitage after hours; a troika treasure hunt is a great way to see the city; whilst a caviar and vodka tasting class is always appreciated! If you go in winter there are plenty of additional activities too – such as ice fishing, ice skating in Kirov Park or participating in your own corporate ice hockey match.
Moscow is quite a contrast to the beauty of the St Petersburg. It too has its stunning architecture and no visit to the capital is complete without visiting the Kremlin or St Basil’s in Red Square. The stunning Grand Palace of the Kremlin, formerly the Moscow residence of the Tsar, is now home to the Russian President. For security reasons personal details need to be provided in advance but it is an incredible location, steeped in history.
Moscow offers some great team building and incentive activities both in the city centre and just a short drive outside. A KGB / 007 style treasure hunt, includes a classic black Volga car for each team – as preferred by the Soviet Politburo, with various tasks along the way it is hard not to get caught up in the theme; for those wanting something more adventurous at Star City, you can participate in Cosmonaut Training and take a Zero Gravity Flight amongst other fascinating activities; at military bases around the capital you can drive tanks or try the Kalashnikov shooting range.