Due to latitudinal location, most of Russia is much closer to the North Pole and is well known for the remarkable natural phenomenon “white nights”. Actually, the white nights have become a common symbol of Saint Petersburg, a time rich with festivals, entertainment, and cultural events. The White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, is an annual international arts festival held during the days of the midnight sun. The festival, organized by the St Petersburg City Administration, begins in May, along with the ‘Stars of the White Nights’, a classical ballet, opera and orchestral performances at the famous Mariinsky Theatre and the Mariinsky Concert Hall. Though the festival officially ends in July, some performances connected to the festival take place before and after the official dates. Numerous night-time cultural festivals of the world have been inspired by the White Night Festival. In French, they are called Nuit Blanche. The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg includes a series of classical ballet, opera and music events performed by the Russian artists, as well as by the international guest stars of repute. The culminating part of the White Nights season is the most popular and famous celebration of the Scarlet Sails, which is supposed to be the largest public event anywhere in Russia and widely attended by thousands of lively and enthusiastic people, mostly by the students.
The White Nights Festival, that takes place in and around the city of St Petersburg, is actually a series of carnivals. The largest and the internationally acclaimed carnival takes place in the Peterhof or Petrodvorets, which is often referred to as Russia’s Versailles. The Palace garden serves as a natural stage, where some historical events are enacted by the actors, dressed in period costumes from the time of the Tsars and Tsarinas. Apart from the costumes, props like period carriages are also used in the production to give it a realistic touch of the time.
Since the city of Saint Petersburg is located in the far north, its long twilights of summer, does not give a chance to the sky to grow dark, as the sun barely dips below the horizon before popping up again. As the Sun can still be seen at the midnights during the season, the phenomenon is aptly known as ‘white nights’. Thus, Millions of people freely enjoy the White Nights Festival in the soft twilights and eagerly watch the sailing of the ships with beautiful red sails, amusing and entertaining performance of the entertainers on the open streets and the wonderful show of the enchanting fireworks in the sky above.
Though it is considered as spectacular, the Scarlet Sails celebration is just a single part of the marathon series of carnivals. The Festival, which includes, among others, the enchanting concerts, and the breath taking mock battle among the costumed pirates in the boats on the Neva River under the arctic sky, ranks high among the greatest shows on the earth.