St. Petersburg Red Sail Festival: May You Be as Free as the Red Sails

Sifan Chen shares her impressions of the Red Sails in Saint Petersburg.

St. Petersburg Red Sail Festival: May You Be as Free as the Red Sails

Photo by Chen Sifan

The event was launched in Leningrad in 1968 as a celebration of Russian high school graduates in the city of St. Petersburg, and is the largest and most famous public event during the White Nights Festival each summer, which usually takes place on the last Friday night before the daylight of the summer solstice.

As an international student here from China, I had heard about the Red Sail Festival in St. Petersburg, which was one of the destinations I had longed to travel to. My classmates here told me that on the day of the festival a large concert was staged in the Hermitage Square and a ship with red sails goes across the Neva River against a backdrop of fireworks to celebrate the graduation of secondary school students and their new start in life. Finally, this summer, I experienced this wonderful and fantastic festival.

In order to get a glimpse of the festival, I started finding out the details of this year's Scarlet Sails and agreed to go with 3 friends. This year's festival took place from the 24th to 25th of June and the main celebrations consisted of a concert in the Palace Square, a fireworks display and a water show. When the ship was passing through the Neva River, I felt freedom and fervour of this celebration. One of the most striking events of the trip was the musical gala on Hermitage Square, which unfortunately I was unable to witness as it was only available to teachers and graduates with tickets. My friends in Russia told me that, unlike the square during the day, the Hermitage Square opened in the evening with a performance by a youth group. This was followed by Юлианна Караулова, Gafur, "Моя Мишель", Burito, Тося Чайкина, "The Hatters", "Gayazovs Brothers", LYRIQ and other famous Russian singers and groups will perform for the graduates. We heard that each artist had a unique stage set prepared for their performance. It was a shame that I couldn't go inside, but standing outside, hearing the music coming from the concert and the lights reflecting in the sky, I could feel the graduates inside as if they were in a sea of joy.

That day I stood on the banks of the Neva with a few friends in anticipation of the upcoming fireworks display. The Scarlet Sails is known to be an annual fireworks display in the centre of the Neva River, an event that has been seen and heard time and time again, and in the early hours of the 25th, the fireworks display began over the Neva River, with beautiful fireworks searing the city's night with their bright glow. For a few minutes, my friends and I looked up at the sky, soaking up the city's charms and reveling in the beautiful fireworks.

What made me feel even more emotional was watching the parade of red sailing ship in the middle of the Neva River. I was overwhelmed with emotion and cheered on by my friends as a red sailing ship slowly sailed across the Palace Bridge into the Neva River to the backdrop of music and fireworks. Standing on the banks of the river, I could see the magnificent red sailing ship passing in front of me, with its unique design and colours, like a beautiful dancer crossing time and space, giving a sense of the beauty of the city to those who admired it.

The Neva River Parade tour of the Red Sails was also the highlight of Scarlet Sails. The excitement of the city, not just the graduates who celebrated the festival with glee, was one of the key features of Scarlet Sails and certainly gave us a deeper appreciation of what Scarlet Sails has to offer.

Scarlet Sails in St. Petersburg showed me the true face of the city and gave me a sense of the city's deep cultural heritage. Not only does it have a world-class cultural heritage and historical background, but more importantly, it has an image of a city full of freedom and enthusiasm. As an international student, apart from the fullness of my daily studies, I am also experiencing the culture here, which is welcoming and beautiful. At the same time, I hope that all people, who feel as hot and free as the red sails, will have a happy life ahead.

On the night of the festival, public transport in St. Petersburg was available and the metro worked non-stop, reflecting the city's humanistic approach.

If you are also interested in the festival, why not attend next year's Red Sail Festival? I highly reccomend to do it.

Sifan Chen