Surely, each of us has heard about the miracle of the midnight sun. This natural astronomical phenomenon occurs cyclically in the summer months, where the border between day and night is blurred. Here, the sun is above the horizon at midnight and twilight can go directly into dawn. The midnight sun is observed in the northern regions of our planet and that is why St. Petersburg became the symbol of the “White Nights”. The city is called the “Museum under the Open Sky” as it is full of life almost 24 hours a day from late May until mid-July.

At that time of the year, it is worth visiting St. Petersburg not only to experience first-hand the midnight sun but also the White Night Festival. This is a cultural event on a global scale, where we can admire ballet, opera, dance, music and firework shows.

The summer months and the midnight sun in St. Petersburg are a unique opportunity to meet high culture. The festival begins with the “Stars of the White Nights” International Ballet and Opera Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre (Музыкальный фестиваль «Звезды белых ночей»). This year, a series of ballet, opera and orchestral performances will take place from 26 May to 23 July. The oldest and biggest event of that period is the Scarlet Sails (Алые паруса), famous for its spectacular fireworks, concerts and show on the water. The highlight of the event is the staging of a pirate battle and cruise ship with intensive red sails on the River Neva –inspired by the popular fairy tale “Scarlet Sails” by Alexander Grin. 

In addition, one of the main attractions of the White Nights Festival is the opening of the drawbridges on the Neva. Only at this time, tourists have a unique opportunity to take a night boat cruise and experience the city from water level. Actually, there are 342 bridges in St. Petersburg, so rightly the city is also known as “Venice of the North”.

The magic of St. Petersburg attracts many tourists from all over the world, especially during the “white nights” when it is possible to visit more places and see incredible exhibitions. According to UNESCO ranking, St. Petersburg is one of the most attractive tourism cities in the world. What’s more, this curious astronomical phenomenon and atmosphere of the city were quite often appreciated by poets and writers. Fyodor Dostoevsky drew his inspiration from St. Petersburg when he wrote his story “White Nights”. No wonder, the view of the golden domes and monuments on the background of the pink sky leaves an unforgettable impression.

In reference to literature, it is worth mentioning the names of writers like Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Their activity contributes to the flowering of the Russian language (Русский язык) during the 19th century. Russian is an Eastern Slavonic language, which derived from the Cyrillic alphabet, significantly different from the Latin alphabet. Of course, there are many transliteration schemes for Russian, where one of them is BGN/PCGN, developed by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN). It is methods for romanization of Cyrillic Russian script into the Latin alphabet to help easier adopt this language. Nowadays, Russian is mainly spoken in Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and it is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Despite its popularity, Russian can be problematic for people who meet these different sets of characters and letters for the first time. But don’t worry, St. Petersburg is well prepared for tourists, as the names of main attractions and stations are translated into the Latin alphabet or even into the pictorial alphabet.

Do you feel convinced enough to visit St. Petersburg during the White Night Festival?