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Geek Picnic: Bringing Sci-Fi to Life in St. Petersburg

The popular festival returns, ready to impress with the latest technology being used in various cultural mediums.

Published: August 6, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Geek Picnic has become a showcase for the latest in science and technology.
    Photo: Geek Picnic

  • Futuristic fashion is just one of this weekend’s many attractions.
    Photo: Geek Picnic

Geek Picnic, the country’s largest science and technology festival, is set to return to St. Petersburg this weekend on Yelagin Island on Aug. 9 and 10. Over two days, the newest ideas and inventions will be on display for visitors as companies present their new projects, while aspiring entrepreneurs and job seekers look for ways to break into their respective industries.

Now four years old, the festival has expanded from simply focusing on IT strategies to embracing art and pop culture as well. This year’s festival not only includes speakers talking about the latest innovations but also various master classes, a fashion show, gourmet food and a market for shoppers. Yet at heart, rather than trying to be too technical, the main idea is that this is, after all, a picnic. It is an opportunity for both tech-lovers and families to enjoy the warm summer days.

Nikolay Gorely, a co-founder of the picnic, is an obvious believer in the importance of technology and he is very aware of its ever-increasing popularity. “In the ‘70s, people were waiting for days for Led Zeppelin tickets,” he said. “In the 21st century, in modern countries, people are waiting for one or two days to buy an iPhone. No one is waiting to buy tickets for a band.”

It is a sentiment echoed on the event’s website in their manifesto. “The release of a new gadget, an incredible discovery — these are the things that we have regularly heard about from news reports, this is what the press writes about,” it reads. “These rock stars have become internet entrepreneurs and the word ‘Geek,’ which has traditionally been synonymous with ‘nerd,’ is becoming popular and fashionable.”

This is a cultural phenomenon and the rise in popularity is something that the festival hopes to capitalize on. “Geek Picnic is a festival for well-educated people looking for something new, to find a new way of life, new ideas,” Gorely said. “We are living with an old infrastructure and we want to live in a world where quadra-copters can bring us food or we can pay for something with the touch of a finger.”

Geek Picnic, rather than just about what exists, is focused on the bigger ideas and how they can be achieved as well. That’s why there is such a diversity in lectures and opportunities for visitors. This year’s speakers include Jonathan LeBlanc, a developer evangelist for PayPal, whose main interests revolve around the development of open source technology in social applications, Sergey Ryazan, an astronaut who spent over 166 days in space, and Artemy Troitsky, the famed music critic, who will discuss the current era in music in Russia.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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