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White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia

White nights - View of Neva river and raised Palace Bridge

St. Petersburg – the city that never sets. At least not in the summer.

Being located in one of the world’s most northern cities, it means that the city never really gets dark during the months of June and July. You can walk about between 10pm to 5am without ever needing a street light! Talk about an ideal setting for romantic outings! No other European city can rival this experience of walking along the banks of the rivers and canals in broad daylight, no matter what time of the day it is!

White Nights Festival
During this season of the midnight sun, St. Petersburg annually hosts one of the greatest art festivals in the world to honour a rare event: the White Nights (or Belye nochi as the Russians call it). The festival – organised by the Saint Petersburg City Administration – starts at Mariinsky Theatre in May and ends in July (usually from the 2nd half of May till the 2nd half of July); although some performances connected to the festival take place before and after the official dates.

The White Nights Festival starts with the awesome production of “Stars of the White Nights” – a series of several classical ballet, opera and orchestral performances, and music events that include performances by Russian dancers, singers, musicians and actors. There are famous international guest stars too! By day, locals revel in the heat and the outdoors and by twilight or light-washed night, the concerts and partying come to life.

Features of the Festival
There are several features of the festival; with Scarlet Sails being the high point of the White Nights revelry. Scarlet Sails includes spectacular fireworks, concerts, and massive water show. This tradition eventually evolves to being the most popular public annual event that celebrates the end of school year or freedom from “schools and rules”.  

Another prominent feature of the White Nights Festivals is the carnivals that take place in the Peterhof suburb of St. Petersburg where actors dressed in period costumes – times from Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.

So you can see there’s certainly no better time to visit St. Petersburg than during the festival. But be warned though; due to its popularity, tickets are always almost sold out in advance. If you are lucky enough to get tickets on the spot after your arrival, then be prepared to pay an exorbitant amount!

While staying for the whole Festival is a bit impractical, you won’t regret partaking in a few of the events that encapsulate the best of the best performances. Being part of Russia’s biggest celebration will definitely be one of your major highs – an experience to experience!

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