Scarlet Sails Festival

By on May 28, 2013
St.Petersburg graduates heading to scarlet sales party

“Scarlet sails”, the holiday of graduates, is held on the weekend which is the nearest to the shortest night of the year (June 22) and falls on the White Nights season. White Nights are a special time in St. Petersburg. It stands for the dusk night light, the night streets and prospects crowded with townsfolk and tourists, lush wedding corteges and proms. It is at the peak of this season when “Scarlet Sails” festival takes place. It is also one of the brightest water shows in the world.

People began to celebrate the graduate’s days in St. Petersburg in 1969. That year 25,000 alumni rushed out the streets of the city at night time to celebrate. That was when the first schooner with scarlet sails passed along Neva River.

The idea of a holiday is to congratulate the alumni with school graduation and wish them a happy voyage into adulthood and materialization of their ambitions. The symbol of the holiday is a schooner with scarlet sails that is created based on the novel of A. Green “Scarlet Sails”, a story narrating about dreams, hope and faith.

The holiday starts late in the evening and spreads on multiple grounds of St. Petersburg. Huge screens are set in several places of the city that broadcast different events from throughout St. Petersburg. The traffic is closed on Nevsky Prospect and thousands of citizens gather in the city center. The prom begins at the Palace Square at 23:00 sharp with the involvement of well-known musicians, singers and dancers. The entrance is available only for graduates by invitation cards. At the same time starts an open air concert on the spit of Vasilievsky Island for the residents of the city and the tourists.

After 01:00 a.m. in the morning fantastic multi-level water, light and pyrotechnic show takes its rise at the site of the Neva from Troitskiy to Dvortsoviy Bridge (the length of which is about 2 kilometers). The spectators completely fill in the embankments and nearby bridges. Dynamic light and fireworks extravaganza takes place with full synchronization with the music performed by symphony orchestra. Meanwhile the sailboat with scarlet sails appears and starts to slowly floating in the aquatorium of Neva. It is followed by escort of small boats. The whole action personifies a part of a single theatrical production of the novel written by Alexander Green, which takes place in the city, on the screens and on the water.  The show lasts about half an hour, but it surely produces unforgettable emotions in the hearts of those who watch it.

By the end of water performance the concert on Palace Square runs on.  Basically the celebration lasts till about 04:00 a.m. in the morning. Cheering news, the subway starts operating earlier this day so that the participants of this holiday could manage to get home.

The upcoming “Scarlet sails” festival is scheduled for the night of 25-26 June, 2016.

Scarlet Sails 2010

Scarlet Sails 2011

Scarlet Sales 2012 video clip

Scarlet Sails 2013

Scarlet Sails 2014

Scarlet Sails 2015


Translation by Evgeniya Gavrilova

About Elena Sjo

Hello! I was born in St.Petersburg and this is the city I love the most!


  1. Meredith

    February 26, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    This site definitely has all of the information I needed concerning this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. Ann

    April 20, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Do you know when is it this year?

    • Polina Polyakova

      April 24, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Ann! Scarlet Sails 2016 celebration will be on June, 25.

  3. sandy

    May 16, 2016 at 12:10 am

    can anyone tell how complicated it is to get to the airport as i will have the flight at 6 am right after the scarlet sails celebration? means i would need to get taxi or something at round 4 am. i guess there will be blocked traffic…

  4. Ann

    June 25, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Hello everyone! I sell tickets to that miracle feast. The price of entrance is 1500 rub for 1 ticket. It includes an entrance to the Palace Square and the opportunity to see the Water Show and spwctacular firework so close!
    Please, write here:

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