What is the White Nights Festival?

Celebrations signifying the White Night's Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Celebrations signifying the White Night's Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The White Nights Festival is an international arts and music festival in Russia. It is celebrated during the season of the midnight sun where the Northern Lights shines at dusk and dawn. The festival usually takes place between May and July in St. Petersburg, Russia. During the celebrations of this acclaimed festival, more than one million tourists visit the city. Tickets for attending the event are bought weeks or even months before the festival.

History of the White Night’s Festival

The White Nights Festival was first celebrated in 1992. In the same year, the festival was registered with an international body called International Federation of Festival Organizations (FIDOF). At that time, the head of the festival was the mayor of St. Petersburg who was Anatoly Sobchak. The celebrations of White Nights Festival were also performed in 1993, 1994, and 1995. In 2003, a 300 year anniversary was held to celebrate 300 years since the foundation of St. Petersburg. The event included a gala concert in the ceremony. There was also another gala concert in 2006 as a G8 Summit cultural show. In 2011, the White Nights Festival received worldly recognition as a cultural event. The purpose of the White Nights Festival is to enhance cultural exchanges between Russia and the whole world. It was also created to improve the image of Russia and promote it as a world center for arts.

Events at the White Night’s Festival

The White Nights Festival normally commences with a performance of the “Stars of the White Nights.” This performance is a must-see event which takes place at the Mariinsky Theatre. It is an exceptional production which combines historical artistic works, new premieres, and contemporary pieces. In addition, there are musical performances in the form of ballets, classical music, and opera. Some of the famous artists featured in the White Night’s Festival are Placido Domingo (a Spanish tenor) and James Conlon (opera conductor from Los Angeles). Throughout the festival, there are evening performances at the Mariinsky Theatre and Mariinsky Concert Hall. The climax of the White Nights Festival is the “Scarlet Saints” celebration. Scarlet Saints involves an impressive display of fireworks and a pirates’ fight on the River Neva.

An All-Inclusive Festival

The artistic director of the White Nights Festival is Valery Gergiev. She ensures that the White Nights Festival is an all inclusive event where both children and adults attend. Children look forward to the end of school year celebration at the festival which is highlighted by the fireworks display. The events are tailored towards the satisfaction of all attendees no matter their age or gender.

Also included in the White Nights Festival are star performances by international artists. These performances take place at the Palace Square. Some artists who performed lately at the festival are Scorpions, the Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney. There are also carnivals where old time costumes of Catherine the Great and Peter the Great are worn. News, media, television, and newspapers cover the event.


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