St. Petersburg’s Scarlet Sails Festival

By Slava Tsukerman

One of the most famous in Russia annual public events – Alye Parusa (“Scarlet Sails”) Festival took place last week in St. Petersburg. The event is highly popular for spectacular fireworks and a massive show celebrating the end of the high school year.

The celebration was attended by about 60 thousand graduates and their parents. According to the official reports about 2 million tourists visited the city during the celebration. Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Vasily Kichedzi, boasted: “ St. Petersburg is one of the rare cities in Russia that can produce such an event. Many regions try to, I don’t want to offend anybody, but nobody else is able to do it.”

The Scarlet Sails Festival is unique to St. Petersburg; not inferior, by officials’ opinion, to the best world shows. Here is the the official reel, promoting last year Scarlet Sails festival.

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The festival is named after one of the most popular Russian children book – the story of a Cinderella like girl named Asol, whose prince comes to save her on a brig with the scarlet sails. In the 1960s the book achieved top cult status among Russian youth. In 1961 the film adaptation of it was made, and in the 1969 the Festival was created.

This year as always the event included: a ship with scarlet sails, proudly gliding along the Neva River; unique light shows and fireworks; music, especially composed for the festive evening.

Performances of many stars were held simultaneously on the largest squares of the city. Large screens were erected in the squares to simultaneously show all the various events.  This combined the effect of many thousands of participants and viewers of all the shows in all locations.

According to some reports, 60 thousand people had rehearsed a dance and executed it in the Palace Square – the largest square of the city. The organisers are planning to get this ‘Flash Mob’ in the Guinness Book of Records.

There is a lot of excitement about the event in the official Russian media.

The Russian Internet coverage of Scarlet Sails Festival differs.

Some bloggers state that it was better not to go out into the street at the night of the festival. It seemed that the town has been occupied by nasty aliens: everybody shouted, used foul language, sipped beer straight from bottles, throwing bags of potato chips, cigarette butts and apple cores under feet, openly and shamelessly urinating on each other in a fan like way. There was a suffocating smell of urine in every alleyway.  There is a common unhappiness among the poor concerning costs of the “Extravaganza”. According to reports, the yearly cost often comes to more than 10 million dollars.


The Palace Square in the morning after the Festival. The high school graduate on the ground is not dead. He is drunk.

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Updated: July 2, 2012 — 3:10 pm
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