A spectacular event known as the White Nights festival takes place every year from May to July, during the season of the midnight sun. Various singers, dancers, musicians and actors come together is St. Petersburg from all over Russia this brilliant happening.
This vibrant cultural festival kicks off with a series of classical ballet, opera and orchestral performances known as“The Stars of the White Night” at the Mariinsky Theatre and goes on for all of the three months. It also features performances by international celebrities. Past performances have been by Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones. The attendance for this festival crosses well over a million.
The main attraction of the festival is the Scarlet Sails celebrations. It is the zenith of the festival and enjoys immense popularity among the visitors for the spectacular fireworks, music concerts and a grand water show that includes mock battles between dozens of boats with pirates on the waters of Neva River.
The White Nights festival celebrates the three summer months when the phenomenon of midnight sun takes place. Literally the term “white nights” means a night full of light and brightness. It celebrates the period of these three months when the sun can be seen in the sky even during the local midnight and is a very majestic sight in itself.
The white nights festival has become an inspiration for many other countries to come up with their own midnight festivals.
The Scarlet Sails celebration marks the end of the White night festival as well as the school year in Russia. Thousands of students from all over Russia come together and celebrate the end of school. This tradition dates back to the initial years after the Second World War when several schools from Leningrad came together to celebrate the end of school year drawing the inspiration from a 1992 children’s book titled “Scarlet Sail”.
The crowds attending this show are treated to a variety of entertainment on stage as well as on water.Entertainment also includes appearances by popular rock stars, as well as the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, ballet, and other classical acts, performing on several stages simultaneously during the event. The waters of the Neva River are used to host various water sporting events such as rowing and motorboat races. The main event is the mock pirate battle where the night sky is lit up with fireworks and at the climax a large boat with red sails appears. In 2012, this event saw over three million attendees.
During the festival there are daily performances of either ballet or opera. The festival is a cultural potpourri. A series of carnivals also take place during the White Nights Festival. There actors dress in period costumes and work to recreate historic events. Even period carriages are driven around the Catherine Park as part of the carnival entertainment to add to the grandeur of the re-enactment.
During the festival, the St. Petersburg Square becomes a stage where various artists, including international celebrities perform to entertain a massive crowd that cheers on.
This wonderful cultural extravaganza is truly an enriching experience for the soul. It is an experience you should not miss out on.