Experience the Taste of Life

Today, ethnographic, event-driven and artisanal types of tourism are in trend

Today, ethnographic, event-driven and artisanal types of tourism are in trend, and it is quite understandable. It is one thing to listen to the guide's explanations and watch the sights from the sideline. And it is entirely different when you live the life of those people who you want to know starting on a tour. When you make their traditional meals, accessories, dishware and clothes. That is how you can understand the country and people who live in it through their way of life, integration into their customs and traditions. Today there is no shortage in the choice of such tours, and here are some of them.

Like in the Days of Yore

In recent years, tours, during which you can get acquainted with traditional crafts, recipes, and most importantly, take part in master classes on folk crafts, are becoming more and more popular.

So, if you want to see and try "all at once," you'd better go to large ethno-cultural festivals, for example, to the "Ladya" exhibition of folk crafts. It takes place twice a year in Moscow and gathers the most prominent crafts of Russia. The following crafts are represented there: Khokhloma and Gorodets painting, porcelain Gzhel, Rostov enamel, Vologda and Elets lace, Bogorodsk and Belomorsk wood-carving, Palekh, Fedoskino, Kholuy and Mstera lacquered miniature. Master classes are always held.

Craftsmen from various regions of Russia who necessarily share their skills with everyone also takes part in the "The World of Siberia" festival of music and crafts, which takes place in mid-July in the village of Shushenskoye in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The "Town of All Trades" is located there, it is an area that is entirely dedicated to folk crafts, where you can watch the process of creating traditional pottery, woven, leather, metal, wood, birch bark, and bone products, as well as national musical instruments and costumes of the peoples of Siberia. In addition, you can also buy and even try to make them with your own hands.

But if time permits and you want to know more, you can go beyond a three- or five-day festival with an extensive program, and instead go on a tour dedicated to certain regions or crafts.

It can be a trip to an ethno park, such as the one in the Komi Republic. Employees of the Finno-Ugric Ethno-Cultural Park, which was one of the most visited In Russia at the end of 2017, say that acquaintance with 24 related Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic peoples is unobtrusive and primarily takes place through mastering of traditional skills and learning of customs. This park offers tourists to take part in ceremonies and learn to do a lot of new things — to cook old dishes, to make and play national instruments, as well as to use medicinal herbs. You can learn how to make amulet dolls and traditional linen products.

Another ethno tour, which will seem exotic even for Russians, not to mention our guests from abroad, is called "The Pearls of Tuva" (it is offered by several companies). Travelers will not only go to places that are far from civilization and see the unique nature of Tuva, its Buddhist temples and the legendary Valley of the Kings, they will also learn what the locals can do. For example, they will learn how to make traditional Tuvan cheese, make tea as nomads (with milk and salt), prepare Tuvan milk vodka and even dress a sheep carcass and cook meat dishes according to Tuvan recipes. Local artisans will share secrets of making shaman's drums, national instruments and jewelry. And by no means will it be just a theoretic talk: you will actually do it yourself.

Throughout the summer, from the beginning of June to the end of August, the "Malye Korely" Museum of Wooden Architecture in the Arkhangelsk Region is implementing its major project called "Living Crafts." Under the guidance of craftsmen, any visitor of the Museum can learn pottery, carving and painting on wood, weaving, birch bark weaving, knitting with one needle, Mezen painting, and making of ceramic toys.

"The Village of Tygydym" museum complex in Yaroslavl Region also offers an extensive interactive program. It is called The Mystery of the Tygydym Horse. By the way, this quest program was recognized as the country's best children's event in 2015. Guests will have to work hard to find out the secret kept by the magic horse: feed the horse, put the horse to the cart, grind the grain, fire a furnace, get the honey, and help the Tygydym villagers with their household work. There will also be other tasks, for example, to bake the traditional "zhavoronok" (lark) cookies in the Russian stove and to make Yaroslavl clay horse named "Tygydymchik."

The Golden Horde complex in Irkutsk Region was recognized as one of the most popular ethno parks in Russia 2017 — it exposes tourists to the culture and traditions of the Buryat people. Here you can not only visit the exhibitions or participate in ceremonies and national sports, but also do something with your own hands: cook the national dish buuzy and khushuury, engage in painting on wood, make crafts in traditional Buryat style.

Of course, master classes related to folk crafts are held in the places where these folk crafts appeared. You can go to the Vologda Region to learn how to needlepoint. If you want to find out the secrets of different types of painting, you should go to Gzhel, Zhostovo, Palekh, Khokhloma, Prikamye or Tagil. Only craftsmen in Sergiev Posad will teach you to make authentic matryoshka dolls. And special, original and genuine Dymkovo clay toys have survived only in the Dymkovo settlement in the Kirov Region. Which means, we are going there.

The Golden Horde complex in Irkutsk Region was recognized as one of the most popular ethno parks in Russia 2017 — it exposes tourists to the culture and traditions of the Buryat people

Living in a Country Style

There is another trend: in recent years, people are introduced to traditional crafts and skills not only during master classes and excursions, but also using the "immersion method," when tourists live for a long time somewhere where the traditions are preserved.

One of the most amazing places in this sense is the open air museum and the historical complex "Tonya Tetrina" in the Murmansk Region. The organizers have completely recreated the life of the ancient Pomory village, where hundreds of exhibits continue to serve their intended purpose, and guests live in the buildings resembling old fishing huts. This complex does not have electricity or Internet, but you can learn how to use old fishing devices, obtain salt by evaporation as it was done in the 15th and 16th centuries, salt fish, cook fish soup according to traditional recipes, and heat a bathhouse. In such an environment, it is much easier to study history and learn crafts, in fact, tourists simply have no other choice.

The founders of Chadkovo farm in Novgorod Region chose the same concept that consists in immersion in the life and mastering of skills and crafts. They, however, did not so radically abandon the comforts of home, although they themselves joke about it: "If you have already spent your vacation in all inclusive places, go for village tourism, where you will have it all exclusive." In addition to recreation in an ecologically clean region tens of kilometers away from large settlements, tourists are invited to live as real peasants: work on the farm or take master classes in knitting, spinning wool on a spindle and embroidery. Children will learn to work with dough and make clay dolls. Guests of the farm also participate in seasonal works at the apiary. According to the tour organizers, you can learn 18 crafts – the owner is always ready to offer you what to do.

There is another immersive tour – "A Visit to a Craftsman" – in the village of Petropavlovka in the south of Krasnoyarsk Territory. It is home of the City of the Sun community. Its members live by what they produce, including traditional crafted items. The tour includes not only the opportunity to get acquainted with the life of the community, but also master classes in pottery, painting, weaving and making root sculptures.

In short, if going on a trip you want to not only watch, but also to get new experiences and taste and touch everything around you – there is lots to choose from. Just don't delay a decision: summer is in full gear.

If you have already spent your vacation in all inclusive places, go for village tourism, where you will have it all exclusive

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