White Nights Festival





Until 1993, midsummer was the time of year when performing artists in Russia went on tour or took vacations. This changed when the Stars of the White Nights Festival was created in St. Petersburg.  The festival now occurs in that city between the end of May and mid-July each year, and it consists of over 200 classical ballet, opera and musical events at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mariinsky Concert Hall.  Many Russian and international stars participate. Previous years have seen performances by Placido Domingo, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.  Over a million people visit the city during this time, and much of the action takes place outside at night as people walk along the city’s canals with their 42 islands connected by 342 bridges.


The festival occurs during the season of the midnight sun, when the Northern Lights dazzle at dusk and dawn. A series of carnivals takes place, the largest and most popular of which happens in the Peterhof, where actors dress in period costumes from the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and reenact some of the most important historic events of that time.


The Scarlet Sails event is the largest annual public gathering in Russia, with a mock pirate battle on the River Neva followed by a multi-level water, light and fireworks show and ending with the appearance of a tall ship with red sails, all occurring after 1 a.m.





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