What's On This Summer

Scarlet Sails Festival

In St. Petersburg

Virtually every day of summer in St. Petersburg is a holiday. The white nights in the northern capital are almost three months of non-stop sunlight, boat rides, strolling, eating, drinking and partying. It's as if everyone tries to soak up enough light and merriment to carry them through the cold and dark season that lies ahead. If wandering along the canals of one of the most beautiful city in the world isn't enough fun, try to attend one of the special events.

Scarlet Sails Festival

The highpoint of the White Nights celebrations is on the longest day of the year — June 20 to June 21. A majestic parade of boats plies the Neva, pirates launch a fierce — if mock — battle, and a tall clipper ship with scarlet sails finally appears. After the festival on the water, festivities move on land with concerts on Palace Square and Vasilievsky Island. The last bit of festivity is in the air — a light show and fireworks display. This is the greatest festival night in the city, attended by over a million people every year.

Opera For Everyone

From June 12 through 23, St. Petersburg brings opera out of the theater halls and into the streets — literally! Under the artistic leadership of Fabio Mastrangelo, several operas are performed out in the open, with the city squares and parks as the set decorations. The first production will be Mikhail Glinka's Life of the Tsar performed in Cathedral Square of the Peter and Paul Fortress on June 12.

Stars of the White Nights

From the end of May until August 2, the Mariinsky Theater celebrates the season with opera, ballet and concerts for every taste in its world-famous Stars of the White Nights Festival. This is the time and place for some of the best Russian and foreign musicians, singers and dancers in the some the most revered productions. This year the festival especially celebrates 175 since the birth of Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Russia Day

This post-Soviet national holiday hasn't completely found a home in the hearts of Russians. Called Russia Day, June 12 was declared a holiday in 1990, when the parliament of the Russian Republic granted itself sovereignty within the structure of the Soviet Union — a step that eventually allowed it to institute economic and political reforms. In St. Petersburg, it is usually celebrated with a huge rock and pop concert on Palace Square, along with parades of marching bands and sports competitions.

Navy Day

The last Sunday in July (July 26) is Navy Day — not noted much in inland Russia, but it is celebrated with particular pride and enthusiasm in St. Petersburg, home of the Russian Navy. This is the one day of the year when you can visit warships in the harbors — including a few from foreign navies. There are parades, street festivals, and concerts throughout the city. If all the ship-watching makes you work up an appetite, head Yelagin Island for the O Da! Yeda! (Oh, yes! Food!) Festival (July 25–26). This is a glutton's dream come true: master classes, farmer's markets, contests, restaurants and all things associated with great food.

In Moscow

Despite the great dacha exodus, vacations to the seashore, and general lethargy that descends over the Russian capital in the summer months, there are plenty of festivals and events. In addition to major arts and other festivals, many museums — especially the city house museums and former tsarist estates outside the city— have concert and lecture programs.

Chekhov International Theater Festival

This festival has been rocking the capital's theater world since 1992, and this year is no exception. Over 19 productions from 13 countries will be performed in the main program, with dozens more in other projects of the festival. Companies from Europe, South America, and Asia will perform modern and traditional theater pieces at various venues about town from May until July 17.

Moscow International Film Festival

Every year the center of the city is clogged with traffic and hundreds of film fans line the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of this year's visiting foreign and Russian stars. Real film buffs skip the ceremonies and dash around townto see the year's entries. The program will be announced in early June and the festival will run from June 19–26.

National Russian Ballet "Kostroma"

Since 2005 the National Russian Ballet "Kostroma" has celebrated summer in the city with a ballet extravaganza that conveys the entire history of Russia, with all of its many nationalities and traditions. The show is spectacular and utterly unique, with over 50 performers dancing through dozens of changes of scenery and costume to portray Russia from its first native inhabitants, through the glories and trials of the expanding Russian Empire, through revolution and war, up to the first successes in space travel and Russia today. It plays at the concert hall of the Cosmos Hotel from June to September.

Book Festival on Red Square

Over the centuries Red Square has seen just about everything, from markets to religious processions to tsars and parades. But there has never been a book fair — until 2015. From June 25-28 the square will welcome international and Russian booksellers and their wares. For more information as the festival takes shape, see the site of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication.

Moscow Jam Fest

And for something entirely different, this summer the city promises to hold a jam fest — that is, a celebration of traditional and exotic jams, jellies and preserves. In mid-August the city will get sticky, with markets, classes, contests and other sweet and fruity activities held on the Arbat, Manege Square, along Tverskaya and in other public spaces.

Moscow Guide Summer 2015
Moscow Guide Summer 2015
Ten years ago you seemed to wait forever for a seat in the sun. To help you make the best of summer in Russia, weve gathered together recommendations for summer dining, frolicking in parks, entertaining your kids, enjoying staycations, and taking some me time in the countrys spas and wellness centers. So dig in! Take a break from your everyday lives and enjoy the summer riches of Moscow and St. Petersburg. They wont last long!
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