Scarlet Sales and Golden Fountains:
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. The oldest and most popular event—the Scarlet Sails—began after World War II as a tribute to the popular 1922 Russian children’s tale “Scarlet Sails” by Alexander Grin. It started as an update of revolutionary propaganda of old Leningrad by sailing a crimsonsailed tall ship toward the czar’s Winter Palace on the banks of the Neva. Today, it’s a metaphor for the post-graduation freedom felt by high school students, easy to identify by their red scarfs and giddy smiles. It’s become a well loved party that draws more than 3.5 million people to catch the ships, fireworks and performances by local favorites like the St. Petersburg Orchestra on sound stages dotting the riverbank.
The party begins with an invitationonly event in Place Square on Vassiliyevsky Island that has featured such international acts as Cirque de Soleil and Antonio Banderas. But the spectacle on the river is the real show, with the iconic image of White Nights a crimson sailed ship framed by waterfall explosions of red. It gets just dark enough after 11 p.m. to enjoy the fireworks show.
As you walk among glorious buildings in different states of decay, you can’t help but feel the emotion of this city — the bright and the dark.
Carnivals of the White Nights Festival 2017:
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.
Carnivals at the Catherine Palace and in the Pavlovsk suburb of St. Petersburg are renowned for their highly artistic reproduction of the historic events that took place at those palaces. Period carriages are driven around the Catherine park as part of the carnival entertainment.
The Palace Square in St. Petersburg serves as a natural stage for numerous carnival events and appearances showing period costumes of the Tsars and Tsarinas.
Star performances at the Palace Square:
Palace Square with the Alexander Column view from the Winter Palace
Every summer in St. Petersburg the Palace Square becomes a stage for international stars of popular music. This wide square has been used for official military parades and massive demonstrations, as well as for political events and large-scale shows and other entertainment. The most recent appearances were those of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Scorpions & other stars.
Star appearances are usually connected with the White Nights, though some appearances may not coincide with the time of the White Nights Festival because of individual schedules or other reasons (such as the postponement of The Rolling Stones' appearance in 2006 owing to the temporary disability of Keith Richards). In July 2007, they played their show in front of the Tsar's Winter Palace before a crowd of 50 thousand Russian fans.