Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg – Don Quixote ballet (a visit with children)

There are few things that go together as well as ‘ballet’ and ‘Russia’. So when we took our trip to St Petersburg we knew we simply had to visit the Mariinsky with our children.

The Mariinsky Theatre is a beautiful building, steeped in history and beautiful in duck egg blue. Opened in 1860 it became the place where Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov showed their masterpieces on the stage.

Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Today it stands close to the centre of St Petersburg and is one of those must-visit places when you are in the city. But with children? Is it possible? We decided we had to give it a go.

I think the decision as to whether to visit something like the ballet with children has to be with the parents – only you know your children and whether they will be interested enough to sit quietly.


My children were young when we visited – two and a half, five and seven but I knew they would enjoy it enough to be quiet – or at least I hoped they would!

We booked tickets to see Don Quixote,which had its world premiere on 14 December 1869 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and came to St Petersburg for the first time in 1902.

Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Walking into the Mariinsky Theatre was so exciting. You could feel the history in the opulent designs and beautiful interiors. Everyone was walking around dressed up, although not everyone in full dress clothes so we didn’t feel under-dressed. It felt amazing to be in such a wonderful location, although I was still apprehensive about the children not disturbing everyone. This was undoubtedly an adult venue but there were a few children there…just not many and not as young as mine.

As it happened I had nothing to worry about. As soon as the orchestra started up and the dancers came on stage all three children were absolutely entranced. There was so much to see – including a real donkey being brought on – that there was no chance to be distracted. They sat and watched the full first act (which was what we had decided to stay for) without a murmur.

Don Quixote at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

At the first interval (around 40 minutes in) we took our leave. A bit sadly as I would have loved to have stayed for the whole ballet but they are very long, at nearly three hours, and I think one Act was enough for my three. We got to see ballet in one of its spiritual homes in Russia and for that I feel so happy and I know we will all remember the experience.

Find out more about the Marrinsky Theatre here –

Have you been to the ballet? And would you take your children?

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