Peter the Great dreamed about a city that would be as unlike Moscow as possible, a modern city that would be designed to a plan. He realised his dream with the building of St Petersburg.

The first stone was laid in 1703, and Peter invited architects, masons, artists and craftsmen from all over Europe to create his new capital. After Peter, a succession of empresses and emperors added to the beauty of the city, each one of them giving to it a new style - Baroque, Rococo, Classical, Russian Revival.

The social season in Imperial St Petersburg began in Autumn and ended with the coming of Lent in March. If you know your Tolstoy then you will remember that it was a blinding social whirl, but one in which some occasions could not be missed - a new opera at the Mariinsky,a ball at which absolutely everybody who was anybody would be there, a concert at the Philharmonia. No matter which writer you read, it was always taking place when there was deep snow outside in the street, the whiteness of which only further illuminated the brilliant scene within.

Well, you can put your book down, come with us and live for a little while the lives of the Rostovs, the Stroganovs, the Yusupovs and the Sheremetevs, because although the fashions have changed and the carriages are now in the museums, the season in St Petersburg still very much exists. There is opera at the Mariinsky, there are concerts at the Philharmonia, and there are balls at which a tiara is really a must.

If you like your Russia to be as it is in War and Peace, particularly the description of Natasha Rostova’s very first ball - floating ballgowns, waltzes, a live orchestra and a little bit too much champagne - then New Years Eve in St Petersburg is for you. If you have always liked the idea of dancing the night away in a gilded palace in St Petersburg while outside, the snow lies thick about the sparkling city. The Tsar’s Ball is held at the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, and the equally glamorous New Year’s Eve Gala Performance and Ball given by the Mariinsky Theatre. If you stay in the city a little longer then you can enjoy Russian Christmas on January 7th, which is celebrated in the many churches around the city.

Whatever your interests - architectural, performance art, or a literary pilgrimige contact us now on 020 8996 5163 on email enquiries@exeterinternational.co.uk