White Night festivals
The White Nights are a kind of all-night arts festival held in many cities in the summer. The original festival is the White Nights Festival held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The white nights is the name given in areas of high latitude to the weeks around the summer solstice in June during which sunsets are late, sunrises are early and darkness is never complete. In Saint Petersburg, the Sun does not set until after 10 p.m., and the twilight lasts almost all night.
The White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg is famous for spectacular fireworks and Scarlet Sails, a massive show celebrating the end of school year. Other festivals following this lead have arisen, using names such as White Night, Light Nights or Nuit Blanche, see that article for examples around the world.
Some cities use the French phrase Nuit blanche (or Nuits blanches, if the event is spread over more than one night). Some use the same words in their language: White Nights, La Notte Bianca (Italian), La Noche en Blanco (Spanish), Noaptea alba (Romanian), Nata e Bardhe (Albanian), Baltā Nakts in Latvian. Others invent their own names, such as Lejl Imdawwal ("Lit Night") in Maltese, Virada Cultural in São Paulo, Taiteiden yö ("Night of the arts") in Finland, and Kulturnatten ("Night of Culture") in Copenhagen.
Paris and the Nuit Blanche
Many other cities have followed. (Listed in chronological order)
The first Tel Aviv Layla Lavan (Hebrew for "white night" festival was held in 2003, to mark UNESCO's awarding of World Heritage status to the White City, Tel Aviv's internationally renowned collection of over 4,000 Bauhaus or International-style buildings constructed in the 1930s by German Jewish architects who immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine after the rise of the Nazis. A White Nights Festival seemed an appropriate way to celebrate the White City. Tel Aviv's reputation as a party city made the festival an annual event, and municipal ordinances now allow businesses to remain open all night on the last Thursday in June.
In 2005, Rome's Notte Bianca (Eng.: White Night) was held in mid-September, and the guest star was Roberto Benigni. There were similar initiatives in other cities as well. In Naples it first took place at the end of October 2005 with numerous concerts (Baglioni, Pino Daniele, 99 Posse, Almamegretta, Stadio) and theatrical and cultural events. The attendance was twice the population of Naples itself. Other Italian Notti Bianche took place in Genoa, Turin, Reggio Calabria, and Catanzaro.
The British festivals are called Light night and began in Leeds, England in 2005 as part of the launch of the region-wide Illuminate Cultural Festival. In Leeds in October 2005, these 'unusual cultural events' included a string quartet playing at the top of the Town Hall clock tower, a tour round a pitch black church with only a torch and a sinister audio-guide that could not be trusted, and a 'Treasure Hunt' from the Institute for Crazy Dancing. The Treasure Hunt involved 200 audience members being led across the city and becoming a show in their own right, collecting white boiler suits and umbrellas en route, and dancing up and down Briggate, the main shopping street, with three shire horses, an ice cream van and the bagpipes of Leeds Pipe Band.
Leeds was joined by Bradford, Sheffield, York and Hull for Light Night 2006. Several other major cities across the country including Birmingham hosted Light Night events in 2008. This has spread even further in 2009 and includes Belfast, Liverpool and Nottingham. Brighton and Hove launched an official partner event 'White Night' in 2008. Produced by Brighton and Hove Arts Commission, the event is partnered with the annual event in Amiens and sees the cities' arts venues, theatres, galleries and outdoor spaces play host to a wide selection of arts activities, shows, installations, tours and trails. In 2009, a British network of Light Night towns and cities was established.
Started in 2003, Montreal was the first Canadian city to adopt the Nuit blanche concept. The event is the finale of the week-long Montreal High Lights Festival. In 2011, the festival will be held on February 26, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and will feature some 200 mostly free indoor and outdoor events throughout the city. Most of the events will be held in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, the Olympic Stadium, the Quartier des Spectacles downtown, the old city and port, and throughout the metropolis' famous underground city (the second biggest in the world, after Toronto's Path). The STM, Montreal's transit authority, offers night-long metro service as well as special shuttle buses between events. In 2010, the event attracted 325,000 people. The Nuit Blanche is sponsored by Hydro-Quebec.
In 2006, Nuit Blanche came to Toronto. Christophe Girard, Deputy Mayor of Paris, who instituted the Parisian Nuit Blanche in 2002, traveled there to help launch the event, praising its citizens for their love of "the magic and the mysteries of the night". Attendance at this inaugural event was estimated by City Hall to have been 425,000 people; the following year almost doubled that, attracting 800,000 revelers. In 2008 and 2009 this number increased to close to a million. Toronto's event is now sponsored by Scotiabank, and is officially named "Scotiabank Nuit Blanche". The 8th edition of Nuit Blanche for Toronto was held on October 5th, 2013.
2006 also saw the first Lejl Imdawwal (Lit Night) in Malta, in the capital city of Valletta. Throughout the fortified city, shops remained open. The Co-Cathedral of St.John was open for display.
The summer solstice in Iceland is celebrated on the 24th of June, on the day of St. John the Baptist, when only three hours of modest darkness are experienced in the region of Reykjavík. It is called Jónsmessa, and it is celebrated in small groups of family or friends around bonfires. It is however not as popular as it was before, and most people don't take any part of it, although some people hold on to it. Icelandic folk stories say that on this day all of nature is thought to work in an unusual way, with rocks and herbs gaining magical powers, cows gaining the ability to speak, seals take on human form, and elves emerge from the netherworld. It is also less commonly known as the Viking New Year.
Luminaria is San Antonio’s adaptation of “White Nights”, originally conceived in Paris, France in 2002, in an attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses in public spaces. “White Nights” is a 12-hour event with a goal of making contemporary art accessible to large audiences, while inspiring dialogue and engaging the public to examine its significance and impact on public space. It is a free event that encourages celebration and community engagement. For one night, spaces are transformed into temporary exhibitions. Luminaria is celebrating its fourth year (2008-2011) as a part of this international movement.
In 2008, Lima hosted a Noche en Blanco in mid-May, within the framework of cultural activities of the fifth Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union Summit. The capital of South Korea threw its first nocturnal cultural festival, Seoul Open Night, in August that year, estimating a draw of about 100,000 citizens at six downtown districts. Santa Monica, California, hosted its first biannual all-night festival under the name of Glow, inspired by Nuit Blanche, on July 19 on the famous Santa Monica Pier, on the beach north and south of the Pier and in the nearby Palisades Park. Over 200,000 people attended and enjoyed 27 original commissioned artworks with over 100 participating artists.
- "Video of 2007 White Nights Festival".
- " Staying up all night in the nonstop city," Joanna Parascczuk, 07/09/2010, Jerusalem Post.
- Davis, Barry (30 June 2011). "Metrotainment: White Night returns". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "The now-annual event started in 2003, after UNESCO recognized Tel Aviv as a world heritage site by virtue of the city's unique collection of Bauhaus and other notable architecture."
- "What does Tel Aviv’s White Night have in store for you?". Haaretz. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "Annual White Night celebrations have taken place since 2003, after UNESCO named Tel Aviv the "White City" and awarded it the status of an international site of cultural heritage."
- BBC Feature
- Light Night website
- "White Night Melbourne". Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- "Melbourne captured by the charm of White Night". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Montréal en lumière
- Canadian Geographic: Montréal’s Nuit blanche
- Montreal Nuit Blanche 2011
- CBCnews: Montreal's Nuit Blanche is bigger this year
- "Nuit Blanche escapes storm's wrath". CBC News. 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "Night into Morning: experiencing Nuit Blanche ’09 in Toronto” ArtsEditor.com
- "NOTTE BIANCA - LEJL IMDAWWAL - A night fusion of arts and culture in Valletta". The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts. 2006-09-13. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
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