White Nights Festival

Magnificent interior of the Mariinskiy Theatre, St Petersburg
Magnificent interior of the Mariinskiy Theatre, St Petersburg


LOCATION St Petersburg lies on the Gulf of Finland, 235 miles (380 km) from Helsinki in Finland and 300 miles (700 km) from the capital, Moscow

WHEN The festival runs from May to July


Around 1 million


59–68°F (15–20°C), May–July

A three-month international cultural event, the White Nights Festival is a series of classical ballet, opera, and music performances staged during a season when the sun hardly sets. The festival draws high-profile Russian performers and international guest stars: expect renowned conductors and soloists at The Stars of the White Nights Festival, the event’s opening celebration, held at the famous Mariinskiy Theatre and new Mariinskiy Concert Hall.

Watch out for other star appearances at Palace Square, where Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones have done turns, and the spectacular fireworks at the popular closing Scarlet Sails party.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around Most major airlines fly direct from European cities to St Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport; travelers from elsewhere may have to change planes in Moscow. The airport is 11 miles (17 km) south of the city center, and buses and taxis make the journey regularly. Once in the city, you can get around by bus, trolleybus, or tram.

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