The few brief weeks of the White Nights – those incredible, luminous northern midsummer eves when the high latitudes are bathed in a pearlescent all-night glow – and sun-filled summer days in St Petersburg are an intoxicating time. By day, locals revel in the heat and the outdoors; by night, there are festivals, concerts and partying to indulge in.
White Nights reveling starts in May, when the city finally succumbs to spring and the parks are filled with flowering trees, but mid-June is peak time, as the sun slumps lazily towards the horizon but never fully sets. You’ll find celebrations of St. Petersburg’s White Nights in virtually every corner of this sprawling, watery metropolis. Dance clubs and “beach clubs” — including the most exclusive, the Royal Beach Club on Krestovsky Island, a forested park that draws many of the city’s affluent young people — stay open until at least 6 a.m. on White Nights weekends. Throughout the night, the Nevsky Prospekt teems with revelers. There is a profusion of cultural events, from the daylong Dostoevsky festival – a round-the-clock celebration of the local author whom many consider to be Russia’s greatest novelist to the White Nights Festival, a combination of classical music, opera and ballet performances held from May through the end of July.
Although the phenomenon known as the “White Nights” is not unique to St. Petersburg, in no other northern city have they received such poetic and literary acclaim. What could be more romantic than a walk along the banks of the city’s rivers and canals in almost broad daylight, no matter what the time of day? No other major European city can rival this experience nor the atmosphere on the streets of St. Petersburg during the summer months – lively, friendly, romantic and bustling with people throughout the night as well as the day!