Once a year
White Nights, St Petersburg
There’s much to admire in Russia’s grand city of czars. It would take weeks to do justice to the treasures inside the green, white, and gold Hermitage, once the czar’s winter palace, now home to the largest collection of paintings in the world. In any case, you’ll dream of staying for the full duration of St Petersburg’s White Nights, which next year will occur from 11 June to 2 July.
This is when St Petersburg is bathed in a lustrous, near-constant phosphorescence. It’s almost impossible to resist the temptation to stay up all night – “for soon one dawn succeeds another, with barely half an hour of night” as the poet Pushkin put it.
Just before 2am, excitable crowds line the banks of the River Neva to watch the city’s four huge, floodlit drawbridges being raised one by one. Classical music plays as barges and pleasure boats drift slowly into view.The best way to experience this thrilling spectacle is on board the private boat reserved for guests of the Four Seasons Lion Palace.
This sumptuous hotel, within the walls of a 19th century royal palace, is named after the two marble lions that guard the gate. It’s a throwback to the opulence of imperial Russia, with high ceilings, period details, and terraces that overlook some of St Petersburg’s most famous landmarks.
The White Nights are not just a natural phenomenon; they are a city-wide celebration of art and culture. By day, the cafes, parks, and canals throng with people. By night, the dazzling Marinsky Theatre hosts over 200 performances of ballet, opera and classical music. (Next year’s line-up includes a marathon of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies.)
We can get you the best seats in the house for the biggest stars. And when the curtain goes up, you don’t have to go to bed: you can join the euphoric revellers at outdoor concerts in Palace Square and jam sessions on almost every street corner.
Selected images courtesy of Four Seasons.