St. Petersburg White Nights Festival

White Nights in St Petersburg: our Honcho’s advice on best seasonal events and festivals

St Petersburg is known as Russia’s northern capital, the abundance of its rivers and canals got it a title “Venice of the North” and the ratio of museums, galleries and international events per capita makes it a deserved cultural centre of the country.

All of these combines and blossoms particularly during the months of May and June when the city is charmed and taken by the wonderful natural and cultural phenomenon of White Nights.

St Petersburg panorama and the Palace bridge

At Vodkatrain we keep things fresh and love to get Honchos’ local knowledge to keep our travellers in the loop with what’s hot! In the next few entries our St Petersburg Honchos will be sharing what their home town gets up to during the White Nights. Get your paper and pen ready as Katya has an extensive list of events that will keep you busy!

Katya Golovina, St Petersburg Honcho

Katya in the black night

“Hi, my name is Katya and I love my city. St Petersburg is inspiring any time of the year but during the White Nights it is particularly charming. Below are some events that happen during this period and if you can take part in any of those, you will have a great time!”

The first event is for the fish lovers. It normally happens in the middle of June and this year will be the 9th time that the festival is held in St Petersburg. It is called “The Smelt Festival”. This fish comes to Neva-river for spawning. There will be songs and dances, fishing and sailing contests, releasing young salmons to the gulf (to preserve the population), tasting snacks and fried fish. Also traditional folk games and a chance to catch the fish with your hands in a big pool – just like primitive humans did! The holiday is held at exposition complex “LenExpo”, near Finnish gulf.

May – June  – garden landscape festival in Mikhailovsky garden. This garden is right by the Church on Spilt Blood and behind the Russian museum. The beautifully trimmed gardens are aesthetic pleasure to the eyes and a peaceful place to rest after the day full of sightseeing. More info on the festival can be found here.

2010 Imperial Gardens festival was devoted to France. This year Italian culture will cherished.

1st of May – start of fountains in Peterhof. This wonderful Summer Palace of the Russian Emperors famous for its gardens and fountains had been almost levelled to the ground during the Second World War. After many years of restoration it got back to its former glory. Peterhof is best to visit on a hot summer day to take in its elegancy, mingle with the St Pete’s crowd and get wet on the “Water Road” specially designed by Peter the Great to make fun of the snobbish nobles (Peter had an interesting sense of humour ;) )

Magnificent fountains in Peterhof have woken up from the winter on the 1st of May

Night of 21-22nd of May – Museum night. Many of museums are open for the whole night and free of charge. If you are a fan of the infamous American movie, this might be the best chance to experience the night in the museum – one obstacle though, it will not be dark during White Nights!

27th of May – St Petersburg’s day! Meaning carnival, concerts, jazz festival and performances of street theatres come here from all over the world.

On this day we celebrate the “birth” of the city. According to the legend on this day Peter the Great laid down the Peter and Paul’s Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city. Usually this celebration is accompanied with a series of carnivals that take place in the city along with its suburbs (Peterhof). In the evening one can watch music performances at the Palace square and Spit of Vasilievsky Island and then enjoy magnificent firework over the fort.

Wonderful fireworks above Peter and Paul Fortress

Then in summer we usually have a stage of Yachting World Cup here, just between two beautiful bridges: Palace and Troitsky. This is known as “The Sails of White Nights” and features slim and sensitive yachts Santer 760 and prominent sportsmen from all over the world. It is such an impressive view: Hermitage, Peter and Paul fortress and graceful yachts with  full sails running on water ( also , the fleet-race – when all yacths start at the same time – is awesome!)

Catching the wind opposite the Spit of Vasilievsky Island

Another great water contest that had been held in Saint-Peterburg for several years is Formula-1 on water. Sharp-nosed boats make rounds in Neva’s aquatorium with speed of 200 km/h  – that’s impressive!

As about bridges, that’s a really gorgeous view. In May and June you can always admire it ‘coz nights are almost as light as days in Petersburg. The wings of raised Palace bridge were once used as screens for displaying cartoons (on the St Petersburg Day, 27th May). And at night street artists usually gather on a quay near the bridge: so if you hear drum beat and see the light of fire don’t hesitate to spend some time in warm company.

Meet our St Petersburg Honchos on Facebook and check out where YOU will be going on your Vodkatrain departure! More White Nights events in the next entry.

Nevsky prospekt during White Nights

As it doesn’t get dark during white nights, the view of St Pete’s drawing bridges is particularly amazing