The White Nights of St Petersburg

by Emma Fressignaud
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Considered the cultural capital of Russia, St Petersburg is emphasized during the summer, when the temperature is warmer and the days never end. During the summer, when the earth tips its northern hemisphere towards the sun, countries nearest to the Arctic Circle enjoy never ending days, where the sun never sets for more than a couple hours.

Thanks to its world-famous Star of the White Nights Festival, St Petersburg is one of those destinations which undoubtedly made the best of its endless days.

Those planning a luxury city break in St Petersburg during the White Nights will find precious information in this guide.

The Stars of the White Nights Festival

Although all cities located close to the Arctic Circle enjoy the natural phenomena called White Nights, St Petersburg is among the most famous for using the occasion to celebrate with the Star of White Nights Festival. This renowned festival is a must see on your special city getaway in St Petersburg as you can to enjoy music, dance, ballet, and a variety of art performances presented daily at the Mariinsky Theatre and in various historical sites of the city. Starting on the 25th May until the 15th July, the festival hosts performances by artists from all over the world including pop singer Sting in 2011, who performed on the grounds of the Winter Palace, once the home of the Tsars.

Night-time cruises on the Neva

Among the various names it was given such as Petrograd or Leningrad, the city is also nicknamed “North Venice” for the beauty of its river and many canals. During the White Nights, cruises are available on the river Neva, which flows through St Petersburg. Although it is late night, the buildings and monuments on the side of the river are stunningly lit up for the cruiser’s pleasure. The banks are also illuminated with striking colours and motion lights, allowing you to enjoy the wonders of St Petersburg’s architecture and historic city centre from the water. Night time cruises on the Neva are ideal while on a special romantic break in St Petersburg during the summer.

Masterpieces of the Winter Palace

The State Hermitage, hosted in the Winter Palace, is ex-Leningrad’s finest collection of art. It is said the Hermitage has a long standing rivalry with the Louvre in France over which holds the most prestigious collection of artworks. The Hermitage will indeed delight those on a boutique art holiday in Russia not only thanks to its extensive collection of works of art but also because of the Winter Palace itself, its green and white building and its spectacular interior, kept intact since the last Russian monarchs fled in 1917.

Mosaics and Onions

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is the only building in St Petersburg built in a purely Russian style, with its onion shaped bulbs, and vibrant mosaics. This majestic church was built in honour of Emperor Alexander II, on the spot where he was assassinated. During the White Nights, the church is lit up to emphasize its colours; it then reflects onto the canal next to it, making it a magnificent site in this luxury cultural getaway in Russia. Also, between May and October, night-time visits are organized daily between 9pm and 11pm to enjoy the beautifully lit building and discover the treasures inside.

Scarlet Sails

Part of the Star of the White Nights Festival, the Scarlet Sails celebrations in St Petersburg are one of the most awaited events during this period of ever-lasting sun. This event was originally a celebration of the end of school year for students, but now is more broadly the chance to enjoy impressive fireworks, concerts, and water shows on the Neva River. Throughout the event, various shows are held on the Neva, including rowing and motorboat races but also a gigantic pirate battle, upon which the red-sail ship, from which the name of the event originates, appears to glide up the river towards the Winter Palace. Attending this event is a must-see for those on a special weekend break in Russia.

Luxury treatment

As you will need a place to stay (even if you are out all day and all night enjoying Piter’s White Nights), we recommend the Corinthia Hotel in St Petersburg. This five star hotel offers an ideal location from where to start your exploration of Piter, as it is situated on the Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city. Elegantly decorated and offering a choice of five bars and restaurants to choose from, the Corinthia Hotel will provide you with an up-scale place to stay during your luxury cultural trip in St Petersburg.

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