Published: Thursday, 19 November 2020

Oxford and Perm in Russia are celebrating 25 years of twinning links with Morris dancing and Russian cooking lessons via Zoom.

Oxford has been linked with Perm, which is the most easterly city in Europe, since 1990, and was officially twinned in 1995. 

The hope had been to mark the 25th anniversary with cultural exchanges – dancers, artists and folk singers from Perm visiting Oxford, and vice versa.  But the coronavirus pandemic has meant that the celebrations have had to move online. So instead the anniversary has been marked with a programme of activity online, including Oxford residents teaching Perm residents Morris dancing, and Perm residents sharing tips on how to cook traditional Russian food.

25th anniversary celebrations

The celebrations began last week (10/11) with Councillor Craig Simmons the Lord Mayor of Oxford, and Dmitri Samoilov, Mayor of Perm, holding an online opening ceremony via Zoom.

The programme has included Russian singing lessons, a conference for journalists, a selection of short films about a joint dance project between the two cities, and a screening of the film ‘Me and My Perm’ that gives insight into people’s lives in Perm. Today (19/11) residents from both cities will swap handmade quilts that depict imagery from their home city. The gift of friendship was inspired by the start of the twinning movement, when women from Coventry sent an embroidered tablecloth to Stalingrad (now Volgograd).

The celebrations will come to a close on Friday (20/11) with the Oxford Christmas Light Festival, where three dance groups from Perm will join a total of 19 groups from Oxford, Ramallah and Grenoble in a four-minute film that captures the vibrancy and diversity of dance in Oxford and our twin cities. The dance will be livestreamed on the Christmas Light Festival’s website.

For more information about the programme of events, visit the Oxford Perm Association’s website.

Taking part in the celebrations 

Chef Oleg Vankov and young people from the International Youth Centre of Perm Youth Palace have created a film explaining how to cook traditional pies from the Ural region of Russia (known as pirozhki). 

Oxford residents are encouraged to film – or take pictures of – themselves making pirozhki, and email the films or pictures to the City Council. The City Council will share the films and pictures with residents in Perm as part of future twinning activity.  If you would like to take part or would like more information, please email

Twinning with Perm

Perm is located 900 miles east of Moscow, between the Kama River and the Ural Mountains. The city has an internationally famous ballet school, a unique collection of religious wooden sculptures, and industries that cover everything from fine paper to aircraft engines.

The city twinning is managed by the Oxford Perm Association, with support from the City Council.

Oxford is twinned with eight cities: Bonn in Germany, Grenoble in France, Leiden in The Netherlands, Padua in Italy, Wrocław in Poland, Perm in Russia, León in Nicaragua, and Ramallah in Palestine. Twin city links give Oxford residents the chance to engage with other cultures and ways of life, and make these experiences more accessible through established contacts and networks in the linked cities. They also bring benefit to cities through knowledge-sharing activities, where people can learn from how problems are tackled in other countries, exchange ideas and understand different viewpoints.

“The twinning with Perm holds special meaning for me as I am of Russian descendent. I remember visiting family in Russia as a young child, when such visits were rare.

“For Oxford to be partnered with Perm, to share and exchange ideas, experiences and culture is something to cherish.”

Councillor Craig Simmons, Lord Mayor of Oxford 

“Perm will celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2023, and I invite Oxford friends in advance to join us at the celebrations.

I am always glad to see friends from Oxford in the city of Perm - even online.  Not only the city authorities but the entire city community values the twinning relationship with Oxford and is proud of it.

“We have a diverse collaboration in such sectors as sports, culture, archives, community centres, higher education. I want to thank everyone who has been building our strong twinning link for more than 25 years.” 

Dmitri Samoilov, Mayor of Perm

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