To people who live closer to the equator, enjoying long days and shorter nights in person may sound like a dream. Leave alone the natural phenomenon of the northern sky. But, that doesn’t mean that all the mother nature’s beauties can’t be spread around the globe, thanks to technology. The beauty we are about to talk about in this article is called the white nights. They are celebrated especially in Russia. But what are the nights and what to do while celebrating it? Let’s read on.
What Are the White Nights?
During the summer, the northern part of the earth would get abundance amount of sunlight – day and night. The sun never sets around that time of the year and the sky is still lit all night long. This natural phenomenon is called Northern Lights, and the best places to see it are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Greenland, and Canada. So, it is safe to say that the Northern Lights is quite a common thing that appears annually. But, only in Russia the phenomenon is celebrated as the White Nights. It is called so because during the time the Northern Lights happen, the night sky looks bright and milky white.
When and Where?
In Russia, the celebration of the White Nights or Beliye Nochi is centered in Saint Petersburg annually. Located at 59 degrees 57’ North, the city is geographically ideal to enjoy the Northern Lights. This festival lasts as long as the summer does, which means the start and end dates may differ each year. In 2019, the White Nights will begin on July 11 and end on July 14.
What Are There During the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg?
The Saint Petersburg City Administration organizes the events held at the White Nights Festival. Because the city is well known as Russia’s capital of history and heritage, the events are very much cultural like ballet, opera, classical music performances and concerts. Summer in Russia also marks the end of the school year and this is celebrated together with the White Nights by lighting massive fireworks. You can also enjoy carnivals and popular international musicians’ performances during the festival. Several museums also open their doors until early in the morning for Long Nights of The Museums.
What Are There During the White Nights Festival?
Basically the whole downtown area of Saint Petersburg is lit and merry during the White Nights Festival. Each year the organizer would release the schedule and also sell tickets to several performances a few months before the festival begins so that not only locals could come and enjoy the natural beauty but also people from around the world. Here are some of the essential shows you can go to and where they are held:
The Stars of The White Nights – a series of opera, classical ballet, and orchestra at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mariinsky Concert Hall. The performances usually start at 2pm for the noon slot and 7pm for the evening one.
Scarlet Sails Celebration – the massive fireworks show that marks the end of the school year in Russia which happens to fall in the summer and during the White Nights. It is one of the most popular and anticipated public events in Russia which is held on the English Embankment along the Bolshaya Neva River. You can also enjoy water shows, circus, and music performances in this festivity which is also known as Alye Parusa.
Carnivals – the true historical Russia feels where actors would parade in costumes as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Tsars and Tsarinas riding dressed carriages. Catch the carnival at the Catherine Palace, in the Pavlovsky suburb, and at the Palace Square.
Long Night of The Museums – where the museums around St. Petersburg open their doors visitors all night long with evening programs that end near the midnight. Visit these museums for the exciting experience: History of Religion Museum, Memorial Museum of Leningrad Defense and Blockade, Museum of Dolls, Museum of Political History, and Sheremetev Palace.
What to Do?
The time of the Northern Lights in Russia doesn’t always mean going to events and mingle with the crowds – if you happen to be the more reserved type of person. If you want to enjoy the White Nights Festival to the fullest and do it like the locals, try these things:
- Enjoy ice cream or a slice of watermelon to get into the summer-y feeling. Russia has a wide selection of local ice creams that you would surely love. One of them is morozhenoe that you can easily get from strolling carts around the town and parks.
- See the Neva Bridge part to make ways for sailing ships. It is even more beautiful at night even if it is merely twilight. The lamps from the bridge will get colorful reflections on the water that go well with the color of the sky.
- Hop from pub to pub or cafe to cafe, because the White Nights are the time to liven up the night that may seem like the days never end for a while. Have some refreshing signature cocktails, coffee, desserts while chatting with close friends and family.
- Indulge yourself in nightclubs that could get even more hedonistic during the summer time especially the White Nights.
If you are a traveler, it would be nice to arrange your itinerary and book tickets long before the White Nights Festival begins because the schedule may get really packed, hotels around St. Petersburg will be full and tickets’ price on the spot will get more expensive if not sold out fast. You can check out Saint Petersburg’s official website to get the announcement of the festival and links to the events also ticket booths. Now that you know what to do while celebrating the White Nights in Russia, it’s time to book a flight.