This year London celebrated the Russian holiday of Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week. Several thousand people gathered on the banks of the Thames to eat pancakes, dance to the Russian folk song Barynya and hear professional balalaika players. The visitors could buy traditional matryoshka dolls, try on Russian ushanka fur caps and take pictures with a polar bear.The celebration took place in Potters Fields Park near City Hall on the Thames embankment. Maslenitsa celebrations in Russia began on Monday and will conclude with an open-air festival on February 14. The Russian festival in London took place a week beforehand, because the organizers did not want it to coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year, which will be held in London the following weekend.The festival, that was held for the first time last spring, featured folk, pop and chilren’s musical groups, including Pelageya, the Terem Quartet, Billy’s Band jazz band and the Moscow Puppet Theater.
Maslenitsa in London is part of the Russian Culture Festival, which is supported by the Mayor of London, the Moscow government, the Russian Ministry of Culture, the Pushkin House Russian cultural center in London, the Russian Embassy in London and the Russian Federal Agency for the CIS, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Cultural Cooperation. RIA Novosti is the festival’s information provider.