Football fans dip in Russia's local culture

This summer, the FIFA World Cup has brought Russia crowds of foreign tourists eager to plunge into local culture and activities. In Kazan, for example, Tatar national holiday Sabantuy has attracted not only citizens but also a great number of football fans of different nationalities.

Football fans from around the globe visiting Kazan for the World Cup got a taste of traditional Tatar culture at Sabantuy summer festival, reports Reuters. A good number of Colombian fans who arrived in the city to support their team in the match against Poland attended the Tatar national festivity. ''It's so different, our country so different, we are excited and happy to be here,'' said one of the Colombian visitors.

Sabantuy has ancient origins, it is dedicated to the planting of the crops. Every year, the Kazan festival attracts thousands of visitors to offer them traditional singing and dancing, bell ringing, pillow fighting and other activities crowned by a belt wrestling tournament. The winners of the latter once got a sheep as the main prize and now receive a brand new car.

Sabantuy festivity has welcomed a good number of Colombian fans this year. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Reuters names Kazan, the country's sixth biggest city by population, one of the great beneficiaries of the exposure that the World Cup hosting has brought to Russia, adding that the city's inhabitants are fiercely proud of its history and culture. ''I'm really glad because many people arrived from all over the world and our citizens and our guests are becoming friends and they are having fun together,'' said one of the citizens.

Other Russian cities that host tournament matches also have things to impress foreign fans and immerse them in Russia's culture and history. For example, thousands of people have visited the tomb of communist revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin in Red Square in Moscow. In Samara, Joseph Stalin's bunker constructed in the event of German invasion during World War Two proved a popular tourist destination. Spectators from Australia and Uruguay squeezed past each other on the narrow stairways stopping to take pictures of the conference room, Stalin's personal office and other areas equipped with information displays.

By Anna Litvina