Scarlet Sails Festival St Petersburg

The Scarlet Sails (Russian: Алые паруса) is a celebration in St. Petersburg, Russia, the largest and most famous public event during the White Nights Festival. The tradition is highly popular for its spectacular fireworks, numerous music concerts, and a water show including battles between dozens of boats full of pirates on the waters of the Neva river. The Scarlet Sails show celebrating the end of school year can get attendances of more than one million people.In 2010, public attendance grew to 3 million. Entertainment has included such names as the Cirque du Soleil, Mariinsky Ballet and Antonio Banderas.

This tradition began after the end of World War 2, when several Leningrad schools united to celebrate the end of the school year in connection with the symbolism of the popular 1922 children's book Scarlet Sails by Alexander Grin.

The popularity of both the book and the tradition was boosted after the 1961 release of the film Scarlet Sails.

During the first celebration, a boat with scarlet sails sailed along the English Embankment and the Admiralty Embankment towards the Winter Palace. Although it was designed to update the rusty revolutionary propaganda, the "Scarlet Sails" tradition eventually evolved into a massive demonstration of freedom from "schools and rules" and has become the most popular public event annually celebrating the end of school year.

Attendees are treated to a wide variety of free entertainment provided by the city of St. Petersburg. Entertainment includes appearances by popular rock stars, as well as the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, ballet and other classical acts performing on several stages simultaneously during the event. The show also includes a series of large-scale events on the waters of the Neva river, such as rowing and motorboat races, and a massive battle with pirates culminating in the appearance of a tall ship sporting spectacular scarlet sails.