The world’s biggest celebration of Russian culture outside of Russia itself will take place this month in London from the 19th to 26th. A second year in a row for the London Maslenitsa Festival, the event will bring venues across the city to life with a week of performances, food, exhibitions and more.
The Maslenitsa celebration is a centuries-old tradition to bid do svidaniya to winter, and marks the last feast before Lent in the Russian Orthodox calendar. Think of it like Shrove Tuesday, just bigger, longer and obviously Russian. As with Shrove Tuesday, the traditional Maslenitsa meal is the pancake (blinis), but served with a Russian twist. Instead of the usual lemon and sugar, Maslenitsa pancakes, or blinis, are traditionally served with caviar and vodka.
Highlights of the London Maslenitsa Festival include a fashion show from leading and up-and-coming Russian designers at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a children’s production performed by the renowned Moscow State Gogol Theatre at Shaftesbury Theatre, and masterclasses with celebrity Russian chefs exploring authentic Russian cuisine.
The climax of the festival will be on the Sunday the 26th, the actual date of Maslenitsa, from 1pm to 7pm when Trafalgar Square will be transformed into a bustling bazaar offering traditional Russian foods, handicrafts and souvenirs and original art. At the same time performances from some of Russia’s most acclaimed dance, theatre, folk, pop and jazz artists will entertain the audience from the festival’s main stage.
A list of Trafalgar Square performances will include traditional acts such as Folk State Academic Pyatnizky Choir and Siberian folk music and dance ensemble Ülger – one of Russian’s most famous groups and experts in the art of throat singing. More contemporary acts will include Russian pop-group Balagan Limited, pop-star Valery Syutkin, legendary rock band Chaif and prize-winning vocal ensemble A’Capella ExpreSSS.
The London Maslenitsa Festival will take place at the same time as Maslenitsa festivals across Russia including official state celebrations in Moscow’s Red Square. During festivities on the 26th, attendees at Trafalgar Square will able to exchange traditional Russian Maslenitsa greetings with Muscovites at Red Square via giant video screens that will connect both festivals taking place a thousand miles apart.
All events are listed along with more details at www.maslenitsa.co.uk.