Scarlet Sails (Алые паруса)

Алые паруса is the biggest and most famous White Nights Festival event in St Petersburg and offers spectacular fireworks, numerous concerts and a massive water show, all to celebrate the end of the school year.

Алые паруса is only celebrated in St Petersburg, and began after the end of World War II, when several schools in Leningrad united to celebrate the end of the school year in connection with the symbolism of the popular children’s books by the same name, Scarlet Sails, by Alexander Grin. During the first celebration, a boat with scarlet sails sailed along the Neva past the Hermitage and has done so every year since!

This event always attracts huge crowds and this year is a Jubilee year, so there’ll be lots of free entertainment provided by the city. Residents always say that the firework display for Алые паруса is the best of all the events in the entire year, except maybe New Year! There’ll be appearances from musicians, ballet troops, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and other classical acts. There are large scale events on the Neva, such as rowing and racing, and of course the appearance of the tall ship sporting spectacular scarlet sails: the real life Алые паруса.

Алые паруса is a beloved Russian fairy-tale about dreams coming true, no matter how silly or futile or far-fetched they may seem. It tells the story of Assol, a young girl who is ostracised by her village and is told by an old storyteller that someday a man on a ship with scarlet sails would come to rescue her. The village thinks she’s crazy and gossip about her to the newly arrived sailor who falls in love with her. He goes out to buy some scarlet material to replace the sails on his ship and the next day Assol sees them and all her dreams come true. It’s heart warming and beautifully written and if you don’t want to read the story, you can watch the film!

If you’re free tomorrow evening, come along to the Vodka Party at the centre as we’re planning to go and see the festivities afterwards!

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