See out the year in style at a St Petersburg ball, and spend a few days exploring Peter the Great's 'window to the west' as you ring in the New Year on a five-day Big Short Break.
Your mid-morning flight to St Petersburg will land in Russia mid-afternoon, and you will then be met by one of our on-the-ground team for the 45-minute private transfer to your hotel.
You will have some time to settle in and freshen up before heading out to explore and find somewhere for your first St Petersburg supper. Our local Concierge is on hand to recommend and book a table at the restaurant of your choice.
After breakfast this morning, you will meet your expert local guide at your hotel for a tour of imperial St Petersburg's highlights.
The city was built by Peter the Great (though upwards of half-a-million serfs did the heavy lifting) in 1703 as a testament to Russia's strength as an empire. As you explore the sites - including the Winter Palace and the Peter and Paul Fortress, where most tsars are buried - you will gain an understanding of what drove Russian tsars (mostly a burning desire to leave Russia's provincial roots behind and join the west) to the extremes they reached. This evening, we have booked you tickets for a magical performance at the Mariinsky Theatre, home to arguably the best ballet company in the world.
Early this morning, you will head to the Hermitage Museum, which is housed in the one-time Winter Palace. With a private guide, you will explore the world's second largest museum before the crowds arrive.
This afternoon you will head back to your hotel to get ready to don your glad rags for the exclusive Imperial Ball at the Hotel Astoria, an enormously glamourous way to see in the New Year.
Fresh air is a tried and tested hangover treatment (though not a guaranteed cure), so early this afternoon your driver and guide will meet you for a trip out of the city to visit Pushkin and in particular the Catherine Palace, the summer home of the tsars.
With your expert guide you will explore the rococo palace, which was rebuilt almost entirely from scratch after it was destroyed by Nazi soldiers following the siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg), and blow away some of the cobwebs left over from last night.
Your flight back to the UK leaves mid-afternoon, so you will have the morning to explore and a last lunch before you are privately transferred back to the airport for the mid-afternoon three-and-three-quarter hour flight home, arriving in London in the early evening.