White Night Festival is an annual international arts festival in Russia. It is celebrated during the season of the midnight sun and consists of a series of opera, classical ballet, and music events. It is taken place at St. Petersburg. Due to the latitude of St. Petersburg’s location, St. Petersburg is well known for the remarkable natural phenomenon called white nights which stretches from late May until mid-June. It became a symbol of the city and at such a time, it is rich with festivals, entertainment, and other cultural events.
If you think only Russian people get to celebrate White Night Festival, you are wrong. Foreign tourists can enjoy just as much. In fact, the White Nights Festival presents a big opportunity to gorge on culture and have some fun in the midnight sun.
Here are 7 guides to celebrate White Night Festival in Russia.
- Visit the Museum
There are several museums that are open during the White Night Festival, many of them are St. Petersburg’s most interesting museums. They will keep their doors open all night, meanwhile others will offer an evening programme that lasts before midnight. Here is a selection of museums that are highly recommended:
- History of Religion Museum, as the name suggests, it shows the history of religious beliefs and practices throughout the decades with art works, texts, and ritual stuffs.
- Memorial Museum of Leningrad Defense and Blockade, it offers you the documentary of the city siege through photos, propaganda posters, and survivor artefacts.
- Museum of Dolls, as the name suggests, it displays a rich collection of dolls, mostly lead soldiers and traditional folk toys from all over the world.
- Museum of Political History, it shows a comprehensive overview of the history of politics that have shaped the country from past to present.
- Sheremetev Palace, it serves as a branch of the Museum of Music with a rich collection of 19th-20th century musical instruments.
- Eat Ice Cream
The ice cream is also known as morozhenoe and sold from strolling carts that pop up all over the city during summer months. As the weather becomes increasingly high in summer, it is only natural that ice cream has become the favorite food for a lot of Russian people, for it can bring them a cool and refreshing feeling in the hot weather.
Russian people’s love of ice cream is one fact about Russian people that is only slightly less known than their obsession with vodka. Their love for ice cream goes back to the days of the Soviet Union. Even though there are many foreign ice cream companies that have set up their chains in Russia in recent years, the traditional morozhenoe is still alive and well. Morozhenoe is way creamier than foreign brands, because it is made with pure, fresh milk and a higher ratio of ice to dairy. It is also very cheap, roughly $0.32 USD per cone.
- Watch Neva Bridge
You can watch Neva Bridge parting to allow passage for boat traffic during White Night Festival. During the summer months, when the Neva river is not frozen, the bridge across the Neva river open at night to afford ships to pass up and down the river. The bridge opens from May to late October, depends on the special schedule. The riverside embankments allows you to have clear views of it or if you are in the mood for something special, you can even take an evening boat cruise and experience head-on the city from water level at the same time. Even though you need to stay up late to do it, but it is well worth it.
Make sure you check the schedules beforehand so that you do not get caught on the wrong side of the river after 2:00 A.M., or else you will be stranded on the wrong side of the river until the bridge is lowered between 4:30 A.M. and 5:00 A.M.
- Wander the City Streets
You can wander the city streets, following the network of canals until it leads you somewhere that sparks your interest. Such unplanned wandering is also known as gul’yat in Russian and considered as an art form in its own right. However, if you prefer not to leave your amble to fate, then I suggest you arm yourself with a self-guided city walk. You can also bring your trusty camera along while observing festive society and take some street photography. It is therapeutic, and observing people is also great recreation. Moreover, if you opt for the street or anywhere you are not familiar with, you will have the good feeling from discovering new things and looking at everything with fresh eyes. It is the perfect way to stimulate your excitable brain cells on the hunt.
- Have a Toast
Drink at one of the city’s bars, pubs or cafes with your friends and have a toast. With night-long festival, it is the perfect time to go from bar to bar, enjoying a chilled beer or fancy cocktail. In Russia, having a toast is absolutely essential in every occasion. The main purpose of it is to turn the process of drinking into a mien of friendship, respect, and good intentions. Do not forget to serve your drink chilled and add salty snacks as its companion. It is a well-established tradition that chilling drink (especially vodka) will soften its taste. Afterwards, you can eat some pickles and mushrooms.
- Dance All Night Long
Russia’s big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg are notorious for their hedonistic lifestyles and there are plenty of nightclubs or cheap pubs waiting to escort you in darkness and pulsating music. You can hit one of the clubs and dance all night long.
7. White Night Festival Tours
If you want to visit St. Petersburg and celebrate the White Night Festival, I highly suggest you consider some escorted group tours, especially if it is going to be your first time. During the day, they will drive you to explore the staggering collection of the Hermitage before spending the night joining the hive of activity that brings St. Petersburg’s streets to life.
So, those are 7 guides to celebrate White Night Festival in Russia. I hope you will find it helpful.