The White Nights Festival takes place every year in St Petersburg, Russia. It is an International arts festival that takes place annually in the month of May when the sun can be seen in the night sky or in the season of the midnight sun.

This festival includes opera, classical ballet, musical shows and grand performances by Russian singers, dancers, musicians and famous stars from all over the world. This event is organized by the administration of St Petersburg city.

It starts in the month of May at the Mariinsky Theatre with Stars of the White Nights and ends in the month of July.

The main events-

  • Opera Music and Classical Ballet: A series of opera, melodious orchestral performances and mesmerizing classical ballet performances called Stars of the White Nights takes place at the Mariinsky Concert Hall and Mariinsky Theater during this time of the year. It is the essential part of the White Nights Festival and its director is Valery Gergiev.

    The daily performances at the Mariinsky Theater or at the Mariinsky Concert Hall takes place generally in the evening at around 7 pm. However there are also daytime performances generally held from 12 noon onwards. The Stars of the White Nights was originally initiated by Anatoly Sobchak, St Petersburg’s first Mayor in the year 1993 and has been held every year since then. The Stars of the White Nights Festival usually starts at the end of May and lasts till the middle of July. The tickets are high in demand and get sold out months before the arrival of this festival. Especially the tickets of the performances having participation of Valery Gergiev.

  • Scarlet Sails Celebration: Also known as the “Alye Parusa” festivity in Russian, this celebration in the city of St Petersburg is the most famous White Nights public event. The Scarlet Sails Festival is mainly famous for its breathtaking firework displays and the grand show celebrating the end of school year. People started celebrating this traditional event after the end of the World War II and all the schools came together to celebrate the end of the school year.

    Back then a boat with bright red sails was floating along the Admiralty Embankment and the English Embankment and making its way to the Winter Palace. Even though this tradition was started to update the revolutionary propaganda, it became a popular event celebrating the end of school year in the month of June. The popularity of the Scarlet Sails tradition and that of the children’s book “Scarlet Sails” written by Alexander Grin got a boost after the movie “Alye Parusa” was released.

  • Carnival of the White Nights:  During this festival a series of carnivals are held at St Petersburg. The biggest and the most popular carnival is the one that takes place in Peterhof which is a suburb in the city. Performers dress themselves in the costumes from periods of Catherine the Great and Peter the Great and they act out various historical events that had taken place in those periods. People are seen to ride carriages from that era in the Peterhof Park. Carnivals are also held at Catherine Palace, in the suburb of Pavlovsk and the Palace Square.

  • Performances by the stars at the Palace Square: During this time of the year the Palace Square becomes a stage for famous popular music stars from all over the world. Thousands and thousands of Russians gather here to enjoy the live performances by famous bands and singers like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Scorpions and many more.