ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Soccer fans from all over the world were treated to a spectacular celebration in St Petersburg on Saturday as millions of people gathered in the city center for Scarlet Sails, the climactic event of the annual White Nights festival.
The tradition celebrates the end of the school year with a stunning fireworks display as a ship with scarlet sails makes its way slowly along the English and Admiralty Embankments to the Winter Palace.
Soccer fans who stayed behind after Friday’s clash between Brazil and Costa Rica as well as thousands more making their way into the city for the next game between Argentina and Nigeria swelled the crowds to more epic proportions than usual.
“This is the best atmosphere of celebration, there is both sport and this beauty, so everything is amazing,” Nadezhda from Tyumen told Reuters.
“It is always beautiful, always, but today is just marvelous. The mood is just… people have come for the World Cup with such positive attitudes. We welcome everyone.” said St Petersburg local Yevgeny Konatin.
For Argentina fan Claudio, his sight was a welcome distraction from his team’s struggles at the tournament.
“This is an amazing show, we came here to watch a soccer match and we are here and this is incredible,” he said.
“The night never comes, the light is always there and these fireworks went on for more than half an hour and we were very surprised. It was very beautiful.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in St Petersburg