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White Nights Festival/Scarlet Sails, St.Petersburg, Russia

White Nights Festival

The Scarlet Sails is a celebration in St. Petersburg, Russia, the most massive and famous public event during the White Nights Festival. The tradition is highly popular for its spectacular fireworks, numerous music concerts, and a massive water show. The Scarlet Sails show celebrating the end of school year 2007 was attended by more than one million people. In 2010, public attendance grew to 3 million, and entertainers were such stars as the Cirque du Soleil, Mariinsky Ballet and Antonio Banderas, among others.

This tradition began after the end of World War II, 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. 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.