Published On: Mon, Jan 28th, 2019

White Nights Festival – St. Petersburg, Russia

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Formally known as the Stars of the White Nights Festival, this three month international gathering features a series of classical ballet, opera and musical events Activities include performances by Russian dancers, singers, musicians, actors and famous international guest stars.

White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia

The annual White Nights Festival, which occurs at the time of year when the sun never sets and the night skies never darken, is organized by the St. Petersburg City Administration. It begins in May with “Stars of the White Nights” performances at the city’s Mariinsky Theater and ends in July with the amazing Scarlet Sails celebration.

Some performances connected with the festival occur before or after the official dates. Due to high demand, tickets usually sell out several weeks before the performance dates.

Festival History and Traditions

The White Nights Festival was founded in 1993 by Valery Gergiev, the artistic and general director of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater. Gergiev viewed the festival as a musical gift to the city from the Mariinsky Theater and participating soloists.

The first festival ran for 10 days, comprised of 14 performances and concerts including three standard repertoire operas and two ballets. The second festival in 1994 increased the number of performances to 27. By 2000, the White Nights Festival received much critical acclaim and ran over the course of an entire month.

Diverse concert programs include works by both contemporary and classical composers. Each year, the festival includes an increasing number of symphonic and vocal-symphonic works. Most performances take place indoors, but the festival’s schedule now includes open-air productions in natural settings.

White Nights Carnivals

In addition to the highly anticipated music, opera and ballet performances, the festival offers other events including a popular series of carnivals that take place around the city. Palace Square in St. Petersburg serves as a natural stage for many such events that include actors in period costumes of the Tsars and Tsarinas.

The largest and most well known carnival takes place in the Peterhof suburb of St. Petersburg. Actors dress in period costumes from the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, performing accurate reproductions of historic events. Other highly artistic carnivals occur at Catherine Palace and in the Pavlovsk suburb of St. Petersburg.

Famous Performers

Each year, the White Nights Festival features many famous international performers, including:

Olga Borodina
Alfred Brendel
James Conlon
Placido Domingo
Carlo Maria Giulini
Galina Gorchakova
Gidon Kremer
Anna Netrebko
Vadim Repin
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Yuri Temirkanov
Alexander Toradze
Viktor Tretyakov
Violetta Urmana
Deborah Voigt
Maris Yansons

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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