Using materials gathered during fieldwork carried out in Russia in 2008 and 2009, this paper examines the ‘Day of Stavropol’ krai 2009’ celebration and links it to debates on ethnic relations, identity and nationalism in post-Soviet Russia. It is argued that celebrations, festivals, parades and other ‘spectacles’ are significant, yet often overlooked, influences on ethnic relations. Although authorities at national and regional scale play a prominent role in governing ethnic relations, it is often the case that they revert to Soviet-era practices – such as the ‘folklorization’ of ethnic groups – and produce a narrative that proclaims the ‘eternal harmony’ of ethnic relations. Given widespread ethnic tensions that exist in Russia, such a representation of ethnic relations is far from the reality lived by people in everyday life. Thus, this paper explores how citizens' understandings of ethnic relations relates to that portrayed by state authorities.