White Nights isn’t really one festival but a collection of events around the longest days of the year, from mid-May to mid-July. Organized by the Saint Petersburg City Administration, the festival begins in May with the “Stars of the White Nights” at Mariinsky Theatre and ends in July. However, some performances connected to the festival take place before and after the official dates. Numerous night-time cultural festivals, White Night festivals, have been inspired by this. In French, they are called Nuit Blanche.
Interesting Features of White Nights Festival
- This festival is an extravaganza of the arts — music, opera, ballet, film and outdoor celebrations including the Scarlet Sails, a fleet of red-sailed, tall ships with a gunpowder-packed fireworks show, Russian style.
- Long walks along the River Neva in almost constant daylight reveal roving gypsy bands, jugglers, sword swallowers, fire eaters, even stoic Russian mimes who might surprise you with their humor.
- Series of classical ballet, opera and orchestral performances at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mariinsky Concert Hall.
- During the festival, there are daily evening performances at the Mariinsky Theatre (either ballet or opera) and almost daily evening performances at the Mariinsky Concert Hall (either classical concert or opera-in-concert). Usually evening performances start at 7 pm, but sometimes may also start at 6 pm or 8 pm. In addition, sometimes there are morning or daytime performances as well, that can start either at 12 noon, or at 2 pm or at 4 pm.
- The Scarlet Sails celebration in St. Petersburg is the most famous public event during the White Nights, known in Russian as “Alye Parusa” festivity. The event is highly popular for spectacular fireworks and a massive show celebrating the end of the school year: “Scarlet Sails” celebration in St. Petersburg.
- A series of carnivals take place during the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. The largest and most internationally renowned carnival takes place in the Peterhof suburb of St. Petersburg. There actors dressed in period costumes from the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great give performances reproducing some of the historic events of that period. Period carriages are ridden around the Peterhof park as part of the carnival.
Tickets to the Festival performances: because of the high demand, usually tickets are sold out several weeks or even months before the performance date. Especially for the ones with Valery Gergiev participation. If you are a traveler to St. Petersburg, it is better to buy tickets in advance – getting tickets on the spot after your arrival to St. Petersburg may become quite expensive.