Leningrad Oblast is home to about 2,000 lakes, including Ladoga, the biggest lake in Europe. You must visit the ancient Russian village of Staraya Ladoga where Prince Rurik began his rule. The region's population includes dozens of nationalities, including endangered indigenous peoples: Votes, Izhors and Veps. In the old European town of Vyborg, you can feel the Scandinavian spirit. Pilgrims travel to worship the Tikhvin Icon of The Mother of God.
Leningrad Oblast is a multinational area with more than eighty nationalities. Most of the population are Russian, but there are also indigenous Finno-Ugric people living here; Izhors and Veps are the region's indigenous minorities. The ancient population of the region's northwest, the Votes, still live in villages in Kingisepp district, in Luzhitsy, Pillovo and Krakolye.
The Votes are an endangered indigenous people, but the oldest communities preserve the Vote traditions and its unique language. You can study the endangered Vote language in classes held every summer in the village of Krakolye. Every year, in the village of Luzhitsy the Luzhitskaya Skladchina festival is held, where you can learn about Vote history, contemporary life of a Vote village and the fate of its inhabitants. Folk groups perform and tables are filled with food.
You can still find Izhorians living in Kingisepp and Lomonosov districts in Leningrad Oblast. Many of them still speak the language of their ancestors, which sounds like Finnish and Karelian. There is a unique museum of Izhorian culture in the village of Vistino in Kingisepp district, where you can see everyday items and traditional clothes of the ancient Izhorians. Every year, at the end of June, the "Save - Revive" festival is held in Vistino. During the festival, a craft market is held in the village's main square selling decorative arts and crafts, and the Izhorian National Doll competition is held.
The Tree of Life festival, held every summer in the village of Vinnitsa in Podporzhsky district, celebrates the centuries-old traditions of the indigenous minorities of Leningrad Oblast, including the Veps.
Traditional industries and crafts are preserved in Leningrad Oblast. In Kirishski district, in the villages commonly known as Zakhozhye, as in the past, lace is made on bobbins – soft, dazzlingly white and decorated with flowers. The Zakhozhye artisans use old patterns – wide round flowers with five or seven petals named Bear's Breech. The Volkhov craftswomen paint flower patterns on wooden trays, Easter eggs and cutting boards. The village of Alekhovshchina on the Oyat River was famous for its Oyatskaya Ceramics, which are still produced today. Craftsmen and women weave buckets, boxes, baskets and furniture from silver birch and willow, they make wooden carved toys using old themes; the most popular is a bear forging a horseshoe with a hammer.Active tourism is developing in the region; there are ski resorts, horse trekking routes and horse riding walks are being organized. Pilgrims visit Leningrad Oblast to see the Tikhvin Assumption Monastery, the Holy Trinity Alexander-Svirsky Monastery and other holy places. In addition, you can go on archeological digs. During the Second World War, fierce battles took place in this area, and the remains of soldiers are still found during digs.