With a lively calendar of festivals and cultural happenings heating up the summer, experience the best events in St Petersburg
If you’ve visited St Petersburg in winter, returning in the summer months will be like stepping into a new world. The snow has melted, furs have been put to the back of wardrobe, and instead of sheltering indoors, people emerge to embrace the brighter weather. With an action-packed calendar of events putting St Petersburg on the cultural map, there’s no better time to visit. From the globally acclaimed Stars of the White Nights festival to local favourites like The Scarlet Sails and Russian Navy Day, here are our favourite events in St Petersburg this summer.
In the world of classical music, summer in St Petersburg means one thing: Stars of the White Nights. The internationally anticipated annual festival celebrates its 13th edition this year with 10 weeks of concerts and shows at Mariinsky Theatre and other stages across the city. Whether your passion lies in opera, ballet or classical music, there’s plenty on offer at Stars of the White Nights.
A fantastic opportunity to enjoy live classical music while venturing inside some of the city’s most beautiful buildings, the Palaces of St Petersburg Music Festival is a must-see this summer. Founded by Constantine Orbelian, director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the festival presents a programme of concerts in stunning locations including the baroque Menshikov Palace, which is home to a magnificent 18th century organ.
One of quirkiest annual events in St Petersburg, the Yelagin Park International Street Theatre Festival celebrates the art of street theatre. Street artists from around the world gather in the beautiful park to show off their jaw-dropping skills to a captivated audience of locals and visitors.
St Petersburg’s imperial gardens are beautiful in the summer. Green fingered visitors should make time to attend the 9th annual Imperial Gardens of Russia Festival at the stunning Mikhailovsky Garden, part of the Summer Garden of Peter I. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Children: The Flowers of Life’ and will explore the fantastical magic of childhood through landscape design.
Celebrating the end of the Russian school year, The Scarlet Sails is a popular local event featuring free entertainment and marine theatrics. Illuminated boats take to the river as part of a large water show, while special events are held across the city over the course of the weekend. At night, when the sky is at its darkest, there’s a dynamic choreographed lights and fireworks display – a key highlight of this annual event.
Usadba Jazz Festival returns to St Petersburg from its tour of Russia to treat music aficionados to an open-air concert featuring performances by international musicians specialising in genres including jazz, funk, world music, blues and jazz-rock. An event for the whole family, the festival also brings together a selection of entertainment and dining options to suit all ages.
St Petersburg is the marine capital of Russia and each year the city celebrates its seafaring heritage with a Navy Day (Dyen Voyenno Morskova Flota) celebration. Ships perform a water procession on the Neva River, while uniform-clad sailors put on a parade on the ground at the navy base.