About the Festival
Join us as we embark on an enchanted journey through radiant artistry, where every light beam tells a story and the city’s heartbeat synchronizes with the twinkle of lights. In the crisp, golden embrace of autumn, St. Petersburg transforms into an alchemy of photons and fantasies.
The Festival of Lights is an annual celebration that paints the city’s iconic landmarks with an iridescent glow, turning them into illuminated art pieces that capture the imagination of thousands. As the days shorten and the amber leaves of fall flutter to the ground, this festival of lights stands as a beacon of creativity, infusing the historic city with a modern vibrancy that must be witnessed to be believed.
Each year, the festival features a breathtaking array of lighting displays:
- 2D and 3D Video Mapping: Buildings don’t just stand; they come alive with stories as their facades serve as vast screens for vibrant video narratives, transforming architecture into dynamic canvases.
- Light Projections: From the subtle to the spectacular, light projections throw splashes of color and intricate patterns across surfaces, inviting onlookers into a world where light bends to the artist’s will.
- Light Beams: Cutting through the night, beams of light reach for the stars, creating a visual connection between the earth and the cosmos, a beacon for dreamers and stargazers alike.
- Audiovisual Displays: Synced to the rhythm of sound, these displays offer an immersive experience where light and music are entwined, crafting performances that resonate both visually and sonically.
The Festival of Lights St. Petersburg invites you to experience its luminous magic as it unfolds in early November(7-8) and also in April. This is the time when the city’s autumnal charm is at its peak, and the festival’s lights mingle with the natural palette of fall, creating a spectacle unlike any other. Set aside these dates to be part of an unforgettable narrative where the city’s heritage and contemporary artistry meet under the glow of a thousand lights.
Where It’s Located and How to Get There
The Festival of Lights St. Petersburg casts its radiant spell across St. Petersburg, Russia, setting its most famous landmarks aglow with a phantasmagoria of colors. The grandeur of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is amplified by a kaleidoscope of light projections, while the stately Mariinsky Palace is bathed in a spectrum of light beams, transforming these historical sites into living, breathing art.
Connecting to the Festival’s Core from the Airport:
The festival’s grandeur is a mere 20 kilometers away from the Pulkovo Airport, St. Petersburg’s main international gateway. Upon landing, visitors are welcomed with several options to journey towards the heart of the festival:
- Taxi: The most direct route, with numerous services available right outside the arrivals terminal.
- Bus: Take bus number 39 or 39Ex from the airport to the nearest metro station, Moskovskaya, and continue to Admiralteyskaya station.
- Car Rental: For those who prefer a personal touch, car rentals are available at the airport, offering the freedom to explore the city at your own pace.
Guidelines for Rail Travelers to St. Petersburg:
- From Moscow: Hop on the high-speed “Sapsan” train that will whisk you to St. Petersburg in approximately 4 hours.
- From Helsinki: Board the “Allegro” train for a comfortable journey straight into the city, taking around 3.5 hours.
- From Tallinn: Catch the “Baltic Express” for an overnight adventure, arriving in St. Petersburg the next morning.
- From Berlin: Experience a longer, scenic route with the “Strizh” train service, offering an overnight passage to Russia’s cultural capital.
Check out these other breathtaking lights festivals in Europe:
As the sun dips below the horizon and the sky fades to twilight, the Festival of Lights St. Petersburg awakens. Beginning at sunset, this enchanting time signals the commencement of the festivities. Visitors can revel in the spectacle as the city transitions from day to night, with the light show serving as a beacon that calls to the magic of the evening.
The festival continues to weave its luminous tapestry throughout the night, offering a world of wonder for all who are drawn to the city’s illuminated embrace.
Cost to Visit the Festival
In the spirit of communal celebration and the sharing of beauty, the Festival of Lights St. Petersburg is a marvel that is open to all, completely free of charge. This event, a gift of light to the people, ensures that everyone, regardless of background or budget, can partake in the autumnal luminescence. It’s a testament to the city’s commitment to art, culture, and the joy of experience, where the only currency exchanged is the shared moments of awe and wonder.
Weather and What to Wear
November in St. Petersburg is a ballet of brisk winds and early whispers of winter, with the weather being as crisp as the golden leaves underfoot. The city wraps itself in a cooler climate with average temperatures ranging from a high of 3°C (37°F) to a low that can dip below freezing at -2°C (28°F). While the Festival of Lights paints the city in warm hues, the air carries the fresh bite of the impending Russian winter.
For an evening spent under the twinkling canvas of the festival, we recommend adorning yourself with:
- Thermal Layers: A snug base layer to trap warmth against your skin.
- Insulated Coat: A heavy-duty jacket to shield against the chill.
- Waterproof Boots: Keep your feet dry and warm as you wander through the night.
- Hats and Gloves: Essential accessories to protect your extremities from the nippy air.
- Scarves: Wrap up in style while adding an extra layer of warmth.
Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby
As the day’s light dims and the festival’s glow takes over, finding a cozy retreat nearby to rest and recharge becomes essential. Here’s where you can dream amidst comfort after a night of light:
Novotel Saint Petersburg Centre
Nestled in the heart of the city on Nevsky Prospekt, this hotel offers a modern oasis just minutes away from the festival’s dazzle. Guests can enjoy spacious rooms with contemporary décor, a fitness center to rejuvenate, and free Wi-Fi to share their luminous memories.
Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg
This luxurious hotel, situated on the city’s famous thoroughfare, offers an opulent stay with its meticulously restored 19th-century façade and interiors that echo the grandeur of St. Petersburg. Alongside the elegant accommodations, guests are treated to amenities such as a sumptuous breakfast buffet, a spa for relaxation, and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Radisson Sonya Hotel, St. Petersburg
A stone’s throw from the River Neva, this hotel marries Russian classic literature with chic design. Rooms are inspired by Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” providing a unique ambiance paired with comfort, including plush bedding, a fitness center for a mid-journey workout, and free Wi-Fi to keep you connected.
What to Eat
After immersing in the festival’s visual feast, treat your taste buds to St. Petersburg’s delectable dining offerings.
Grecheskaya Taverna Sirtaki
Located just a short walk from Palace Square, this Greek taverna transports you from the Russian chill to the Mediterranean warmth with its authentic Hellenic dishes. Dine on classic favorites such as moussaka, souvlaki, and a variety of meze, all accompanied by the smooth notes of Greek wine.
This charming eatery on Nevsky Prospect is a tribute to traditional Russian cuisine. Indulge in rich borscht, delicate blinis with caviar, and hearty beef stroganoff, all served in a setting reminiscent of a Russian countryside home, complete with folk music and rustic décor.
Tucked away in a cozy corner of St. Petersburg, Severyanin offers a serene dining experience. Their menu celebrates the flavors of Northern Russia with specialties like wild mushroom soup, venison with lingonberries, and the indulgent Syrniki for dessert, creating a symphony of tastes that echo the region’s culinary heritage.
More Things to Do in the Area
Beyond the scintillation of the Festival of Lights, St. Petersburg is a treasure trove of cultural and historical marvels waiting to be explored.
This iconic former royal residence, now housing part of the Hermitage Museum, stands majestically along the Palace Embankment. Visitors can marvel at the opulent rooms and extensive art collections, delving into Russia’s imperial past and appreciating masterpieces from around the globe.
A beacon of classical performing arts, located on Theatre Square, the Mariinsky Theatre is the perfect venue to experience world-renowned opera and ballet. The grand architecture and rich history of the theater itself are as captivating as the performances held within its luxurious walls.
Moored on the Neva River near the Petrogradskaya Embankment, the historic Cruiser Aurora tells the story of its pivotal role in the 1917 October Revolution. Today, it serves as a museum ship, allowing visitors to walk its decks and learn about its storied past in Russian naval history.
A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Festival of Lights St. Petersburg
As the lights dim on the Festival of Lights St. Petersburg, the memories of this radiant event continue to flicker in the hearts of those who witnessed its splendor. This festival not only illuminates the city but also kindles the warm glow of shared experiences and cultural wonder. We leave behind the cobblestone streets and the luminescent art, carrying with us the light of St. Petersburg that no autumn chill can extinguish.
Is there parking available at the festival?
Limited parking is available around the vicinity of the festival. We recommend using public transport or parking further out and walking in to avoid congestion.
Are the festival grounds wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the festival is wheelchair accessible, with specific pathways designed for ease of navigation for all the guests.
Can I bring my pet to the Festival of Lights?
While we love furry friends, pets are not typically allowed on the festival grounds to ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees.
Is smoking permitted at the festival?
The festival is a smoke-free environment to ensure the health and enjoyment of all guests. Designated smoking areas may be provided outside the event space.
Will there be food and beverages available for purchase?
Yes, there are a variety of food and beverage vendors on-site, offering a range of options to satisfy your cravings.
What should I do if I get separated from my group?
There will be clearly marked information centers on the festival grounds. If you get separated from your group, head to the nearest information center for assistance.
Can I take photos and videos at the festival?
Absolutely, photography and videography are encouraged! Capture the moments and share them; just be sure to tag the festival if you’re posting on social media.
In case of inclement weather, will the festival be canceled?
The festival is a rain-or-shine event. However, in the case of extreme weather conditions, safety will be the priority, and updates will be provided through the festival’s official channels.