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The white nights festival
the most important summer event
in russia's northern capital

During the White Nights Festival anyone can listen to the best classical music and enjoy the show of opera and ballet at many theatres and concert halls where Russian and foreign dancers, singers, musicians and actors perform.

The St Petersburg White Nights Festival is held annually during the season of the “Midnight Sun”, in late June. It is an arts and cultural festival consisting of ballets, operas, musical events, dancing, singing, and acting. Internationally famous artists often make an appearance.

The culmination of the event is called Scarlet Sails and is accompanied by a huge fireworks display. The number of people who attend the Scarlet Sails event can be as high as one million. Visitors include students from schools and colleges around the world, as well as the local population.

Carnivals and rock concert performances at the Palace Square are other popular parts of the White Nights Festival. If you have the opportunity to go, you shouldn’t miss it. It’s an incredible experience.

more about the white nights festival

Below is a brief introduction to the famous St Petersburg White Nights Festival, the most well-known and important summer event in Saint Petersburg Russia.

Location is the key

Because of its location near the Arctic Circle, the city of St. Petersburg is one of the few large cities where daylight can last for nearly 24 hours around the time of the summer solstice on June 21st. This is where the phrase “White Nights” comes from. The festival in St Petersburg has inspired a number of other nighttime cultural festivals in other areas of the world, even though the daylight hours may be significantly less.

music performances every night

The festival is a long one, usually beginning in May and ending in July, although some events are held before the official opening date and a few occur later. Throughout the summer months, there are events at the Mariinsky Theater, the Mariinsky Concert Hall and other venues throughout the city. The first event is traditionally called Stars of the White Nights and is held at the Mariinsky.

The Stars of the White Nights began with the election of Saint Petersburg’s first mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Since 1993, the festival has been held annually. The many artists who have performed during the festivals include Placido Domingo, Deborah Voigt, Carlo Maria Giulini, and Gidon Kremer.

Performances are typically held on a daily basis. Usually, there is more than one performance on any given day. Sometimes there will be a ballet in the Mariinsky Theater while an orchestra plays at the Concert Hall. In addition to the evening performances, some events are held during the daytime.

the top attraction of the festival

The most prominent public event during the White Nights Festival is the "Scarlet Sails". It’s a thrilling sight with an amazing water show on the Neva River which was created for high school graduates but has been loved by all citizens and guests of Saint Petersburg. In Russian, it is called Alye Parusa. The Scarlet Sails tradition began in Saint Petersburg shortly after the end of World War II.

tickets in advance are highly recommended

If you’re planning to attend some of the events at St. Petersburg White Nights Festival, you should buy your tickets well in advance of the date of your planned visit (at least one month before the performance date). It can be difficult, if not impossible to get tickets on the same day. Please note that when they are available, they are quite expensive.


You should know that during this time of the year Russian people are particularly happier and relax because the White Nights mark the end of the long and cold winter and the beginning of the summer. Locals tend to go out more, have fun, and enjoy the warm days and that sun that never sets. Definitely, if you have a chance this period of the year would be the best time to come to St Petersburg.


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