What happens on Navy Day 

Navy Day celebrates the Russian Navy and is held on the last weekend of July (July 30 in 2023). In St. Petersburg and Kronstadt, this day is filled with colorful festivities, the main of which is a naval parade. The holiday is especially significant in this region of the country because of the Northern Capital’s status as a maritime defense outpost. Moreover, the famed shipyards of St. Petersburg have produced countless vessels over the ages – and the oldest one, Admiralty Shipyards, is still operating today.

Kronstadt played a major role in the country’s naval history not only thanks to its fortifications but also as a haven for oceanographers and other marine scientists, who set off on their expeditions from the island’s shores. Even now, the town has an active shipyard and there’s some kind of sea or navy-related memorial on nearly every street.

“Obviously, everything in a town surrounded by water is connected with the sea, and Kronstadt's entire history is inseparable from the history of the Russian Navy. So, Navy Day has always been an important holiday for the town’s residents – but now, when the island is gradually turning into one huge museum of the Navy, this day can safely be called the main summer event in the life of Kronstadt,” says Maria Khuzina.

Naturally, Navy Day attracts many visitors to the town – especially those who wish to witness the naval parade. Featuring vessels that cannot venture down the Neva River for the grand parade in St. Petersburg, it tends to be every bit as spectacular as the one in the big city – or maybe even more so. This popularity accounts for the fact that on Navy Day entrance to the city by car is limited to Kronstadt locals only; buses, on the other hand, will go as usual. You can take buses 101 and 101Э (express) from the Begovaya and Staraya Derevnya metro stations. 

If you haven’t been to Kronstadt, on Navy Day you will be able to combine the exploration of the town’s main attractions, like the grandiose Naval Cathedral, the Hanging Bridge, and Summer Garden, with participating in town-wide celebrations. You can also enjoy the city’s newly opened Patriot Park, located in the harbor, where you can peruse the various ships and boats on display in the open air.

The Naval Cathedral. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

The Naval Cathedral. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

Apart from the naval parade, the most prominent of the city’s Navy Day festivities are an open air concert and games to be held in Petrovsky Park and Yakornaya Square. The day will culminate with a fireworks show that is best seen from Yakornaya Square. 

What else to see 

To fully appreciate the town’s sea-weathered spirit, on Navy Day or any other time, you can visit several of Kronstadt’s newly opened museums, recommended by Maria Khuzina. 

Model Museum of Kronstadt’s Forts

A great choice for anyone wishing to have a bird’s eye view of the city’s fortifications throughout their 300 years’ worth of history. Not unlike the Grand Maket Rossiya located in St. Petersburg, this one includes interactive models based on 3D mapping to create an immersive experience for every visitor. Moreover, the museum is located in a historical building that used to be a sailors’ mess hall in the 19th century, so even the location will add to the experience. Conveniently, if you get hungry after a tour of the model, you can grab a pyshka and a cup of coffee at the museum’s cafe.

Kronstadt's harbor. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

Kronstadt's harbor. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

Ostrov Fortov 

A park located a ten-minute drive away from the Naval Cathedral, Ostrov Fortov (or Fort Island) has it all, whether you want a walk in nature and by the water, or a dive into Kronstadt and Russia’s naval history. Here, you can interact with history in an unusual way by perusing the installations and monuments on the Alley of Russian Navy Heroes or by learning the names of notable admirals and travelers engraved on the Lighthouse of Memory.  

Lighthouse Museum 

Lighthouses are not only symbols of hope, but also seemingly very mysterious buildings known and understood only by seafarers. At this museum, you will unravel the inner workings of these predecessors of modern GPS devices as you walk among the exhibits on display, some of them dating back to the mid-19th century. These days, lighthouses are rather popular, with their images put on stickers, postcards, tote bags, and more – having visited this museum, you’ll be at the heart of this trend.

Mysteries from the Depths of the Sea

This is a new art gallery for all lovers of sea legends and myths. Freshly opened, the gallery is not about historical fact but about the spirit of mystery and wonder; the allure of pirates, dangerous sea creatures, lost treasures, and guardians of the ocean. A wonderful respite after a day of learning spent at other locations in the city – or a great addition to the Navy Day experience. 

West Kotlin eco-path

Speaking of respites, there’s more to see on the island of Kotlin.

“If exploring Kronstadt’s naval glory is not for you, then you might enjoy the West Kotlin eco-path. Your route will be more about being in nature, but there you can also see the remnants of some of the island’s fortifications up close,” shares Maria Khuzina. 

You can get to the eco-path by catching a bus from the Naval Cathedral. 

Kronstadt's Summer Garden. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

Kronstadt's Summer Garden. Photo by Ivan Myakishev for ITMO.NEWS

Where to eat 

Over the years since our previous story, quite a few eatery chains have entered the town’s scene, including Volcheka Bakery, Khlebnik Bakery, and Dodo Pizza. You can find these, as well as unique local cafes, on Lenina Prospekt. Recently, Kronstadt has also acquired its specialty coffee shop, Fort Brew, already marked on St. Pete’s Good Coffee Map. It’s conveniently located on the way to Ostrov Fortov, so you can get your caffeine pit stop if you decide to walk there from the city center.