Sprawling over two continents and 11 time zones, Russia can boast a wealth of wildlife and natural beauty of all types, from the majestic primeval forests of the Urals and the alpine meadows of the Caucasus to the volcanic terrain of Kamchatka and the snowy deserts of Siberia. It is home to hundreds of species: soaring golden eagles, red foxes, brown bears, wild boars, the giant Eurasian elk, and the extraordinary Siberian salamander... Want to learn more about this country’s incredible wildlife and discover the most dazzling natural wonders on the planet? Visit the annual ‘Russian Wildlife’ photo exhibition organized by the National Geographic magazine at the Etagi creative space, which will run from February 1 to March 31. The exhibition is open from 9am till 9pm. Entrance fee is 200 rubles.

Think that the Russian winter is not as bad as everybody says it is? Don’t celebrate just yet! Though cold and dark, winters in St. Petersburg are relatively mild. To experience the real Russian winter, you’ll have to go north to the Arctic. This Saturday, February 2, another St. Pete’s creative space, Sevcabel Port, hosts the ‘Welcome to the Arctic’ festival, which will help you familiarize yourself with this austere land and the traditions and culture of its indigenous peoples. Listen to ethnic music, learn about Russian icebreaker ships and expeditions to the North Pole, play the mouth harp, try traditional northern dishes and take a picture in front of a chum tent. The event kicks off at 1pm and ends at 6pm. Admission is free.

But enough about the cold! Instead, get carried away to the City of Violets, Toulouse. Every February, the city celebrates the Fête de la Violette, known all over the world as the Toulouse Violet Festival. To learn more about the history of this magical holiday, visit St. Petersburg’s ‘Toulouse Violet Festival’ at the Library of Legal and Economic Information organized as part of UNESCO’s International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures initiative. The festival’s program includes lectures about the city of Toulouse and France, a French language class, a concert of French classical music, and a series of amazing art exhibitions and workshops, including a culinary workshop on cooking caramelized violets! Entrance is free.

Great news for all the photography enthusiasts out there. January 31 marks the start of the 5th Photobiennale of Contemporary Photography” in the Russian Museum. Established in 2009, the exhibition features pictures by both professional and amateur photographers. This year, a total of 295 artists from 71 Russian cities will present their works, split into seven thematic groups such as ‘City’, ‘Still life’, ‘Nude’, ‘Landscape art’, ‘Daily life’, and ‘Portrait’. The Russian Museum is open every day apart from Tuesday from 10am till 6pm, and from 1pm till 9pm on Thursday. Entrance fee is 500 rubles, with a 50% discount for students.

Enjoy your weekend!