Ballet at the Mariinsky Theater

Wanting to see a ballet in Russia, we saw one at Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater. The theater and dancers were wonderful. At first we didn’t know about selecting seats and transportation, but everything worked out well.

Shown above is the stage showing “Les Saisons Russes“, French for “The Russian Seasons”, which seems to be a theme of the Mariinsky. In Soviet times, the Mariinsky Ballet was known as the Kirov Ballet. Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov danced for the Kirov Ballet before defecting to the West.

Our ballet program had three parts: Chopiniana, The Firebird, and Scheherazade. The dancing, costumes, and sets were all excellent. We enjoyed everything and stayed to the end. Reading the program at the theater, we learned that the performance would run three and a half hours.

Sheherazade dancers taking a bow
Scheherazade dancers taking a bow

The Mariinsky Theater has a very good website that supports purchasing tickets online, but we didn’t know what seats to choose. After the purchase, you need to change the softcopy tickets for preprinted tickets. We did this at the Mariinsky box office at Gostiny Dvor on Nevsky Prospekt. Gostiny Dvor is a huge shopping center, and we didn’t see an information kiosk. We picked up a map and read the Russian Мариинский театр for the theater. If you’re traveling independently in Russia, it helps to know some Cyrillic letters.

our tickets

We chose these seats: 1st tier, Left side, Box 9, Row 1, Places 19 and 21. We enjoyed an unobstructed view of the entire stage. The tsar’s box, probably the best in the theater, is just to our right and one level down. Each ticket cost 2,700 rubles, about $42 — a bargain compared to San Francisco prices. The first row in the box is definitely the best, where you don’t have to look around the people in front. The second row is not elevated above the first row, and the third row isn’t much better.

Mariinsky Theater
unobstructed view from our seats

We didn’t know whether to take a bus, taxi, or Uber to the theater for the 7:30 evening performance. Google map shows how to take a trolley from Nevsky Prospekt to the theater, including the location of the bus stops. We took the trolley, and it worked great. We tracked our location and progress during the bus ride using the app on our phone.

We didn’t expect the performance to last three and a half hours, getting out at 11:00 pm. Seeing the crowd after the performance, we decided not to try a taxi or Uber since we don’t speak Russian. We caught a trolley and got back to our apartment in 20 or 30 minutes with no scary moments.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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