Sun kissed days and illuminated nights. Wait for the dark and you will be waiting for a long time. The sun never sleeps in the summer! I experienced the dead of the night like never before in the cultural capital of Russia: St. Petersburg during my trip to Russia from India! This incredible phenomenon of nature called ‘White Nights’ can be witnessed during the month of June in this city and is celebrated as The White Nights Festival. Although the sun sets in the sky, it does not descend below enough the horizon for it to actually get dark in summers and causes an all night natural glow in the sky. St. Petersburg, being the northernmost city, enjoys this spectacle of nature as a reason of its high latitude and close proximity to the Artic Circle.
When I contacted the Russian travel management company regarding my wish to visit Russia from India, I was suggested the month of June to witness the White Nights and it made my holiday in St. Petersburg one-of-a-kind indeed.
I kicked off my St. Petersburg, Russia tour by getting watermelon or popularly called ‘arbus’ from a stall to beat the heat on a June afternoon and headed to the Summer Gardens. The gardens were adorned with flowers of every colour, fountains and exquisite marble statues and the sun can be enjoyed sweetly here.
After dinner, I took a boat cruise on the Neva River and watched the bridge above us open into half and witnessed a night like never before. The night was concluded with a concert at the Mariinsky Theatre in celebration of the festival of White Nights.
The next day, as a part of the St. Petersburg Russia holiday package, I went swimming in Lake Ladoga and Komarova beach on the Gulf of Finland and sunbathed all afternoon relishing the Russian sun. It was absolutely mesmerizing the way the sky looked past midnight, a hue of the presence of the sun visible at the horizon but not quite its disappearance. One does not wish to spend a moment anywhere else other than under the roof of this sky of round the clock daytime. Every cathedral, every shore and plaza was abuzz with activities and festivities. The historic significance of the origin of this festival makes it all the more special and a pride for the people of St. Petersburg to narrate.
Acrobatics, music, drama and food and liquor fest, the White Nights festival lacked nothing and makes St. Petersburg an extraordinary travel destination adding to its existing cultural and historical glory as well as scenic beauty.
Witnessing this festival once in your lifetime is a must and I wish I’d get to bask in its glory next summer as well.