If you were to ask where I’d most like to be this weekend, my answer would come without hesitation as one of the highlights of the social year takes place Saturday in Saint Petersburg at the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. It is the eighth Annual Golden Autumn Pushkin Charity Ball with all the style, pomp and grace of Imperial Russia.
This is a wonderful event, first initiated by Thomas Noll the head of the Grand Hotel Europe’s charity fund, and by Kenneth Pushkin, a decendnet of Russia’s national poet, and president of the International Pushkin Charity Fund.
Russia is a country which breeds and cultivates writers. Think of all the worlds most famous masters of pen and ink and the list will be filled with the names of Russia’s most famous sons and daughters. Among the greatest, was her national poet, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837).
Noll and Pushkin promise that this year’s Golden Autumn ball promises a graceful combination of performances by stars of Russian opera and ballet and this year the design of the program will reflect the special style of the Pushkin era.
Guests of the ball will stroll around the Great Hall of the Catherine Palace in the town of Pushkin south of St. Petersburg, while the chef of the Grand Hotel Europe is said to be preparing a “culinary surprise” based on 18th century cuisine.
The International Pushkin Charity Fund was founded in 1997 and created to aid children’s shelters and hospitals in Russia, considering its mission to give to important charity causes. It is a very important event to benefit those Russian children who need it most.
Past Gold Autumn Pushkin Charity balls have been held in venues in New York, Moscow, Washington DC, and St. Petersburg. Catherine’s Palace is also home to the annual Tsar’s New Years Eve Ball which we ordinary mortals can attend simply by purchasing a ticket online. But this event, well, if one must ask how to be invited, then one really shouldn’t bother.
This year annual Pushkin Charity event takes place in the halls of the palace, its organizers noted ruefully, where Russia’s Pre-Revolutionary high society “came to a close.” There is a mounting sense of nostalgia for Russia’s Imperial past among Russians these days.
The charity monies are rotated each year and funds raised by this year’s ball will go to children’s hospitals in St. Petersburg and toward the Pushkin University scholarship fund.