From “White Nights” to “Red Sails:” Russian Summer Celebrations

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Night Saint Petersburg by Svetlana from Russia

Night Saint Petersburg by Svetlana from Russia

From late May to early July, local residents and visitors alike take advantage of the sun’s extended hours (with the brightest periodnormally lasting from June 11th to July 2nd) and enjoy many celebratory activities. Organized by the Saint Petersburg City Administration, the festival begins in May when the famed Mariinsky Theater opens its 8-week long “Stars of the White Nights” festival, showcasing close to 100 opera, ballet and musical performances by both Russian and International artists. Throughout the following weeks firework displays take place over the banks of the Neva River and can be enjoyed on one of the city’s many bridges, concerts take place in the Palace Square and people enjoy late-night strolls through the city to take in the natural beauty of this summer phenomenon.


In Russia’s St. Petersburg, the summer months feature “Byeliye Nochi,” or White Nights. These sun-filled nights are the result of St. Petersburg’s northern location-, which is roughly level with Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska, – with its high latitude preventing the sun from descending far enough below the horizon to cause the sky to grow dark.


White Nights Saint Petersburg by Kirill from Russia

White Nights Saint Petersburg by Kirill from Russia

The end of the White Nightscoincide with Russian school schedules, and high school graduates enjoy the customary “Red Sails” celebration, where over 3 million people have been reported to take part in celebrating the end of the school year. This tradition has been observed since the end of World War II and is the largest public event to take place in all of Russia.
By Elizabeth Kirst

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