Thursday, 8 March 2012

London Maslenitsa Festival

Sorry this post is a bit late, but I just wanted to write about my visit to the Maslenitsa Festival in Trafalgar Square, London, on the 26th Feb 2012. Maslenitsa is a celebration of the start of spring, a time to say goodbye to the long, cold winter period. It is an occasion of dancing, music and feasting and Russians will construct a brightly dressed effigy of Maslenitsa from straw and burn her. The ashes are then buried in the snow, symbolically fertilising the coming year’s crops.

Now that you know the meaning of Maslenitsa, I’d like to share with you my experience of the opening of the festival, a show put on in Trafalgar square. I had no idea that there were so many Russians in London!! Hundreds arrived buying traditional foods from the stalls, non-Russians buying souvenirs, such as hats and matryoshka dolls. There was a whole range of stalls with different goodies. However, it was the stage which was the main focal point of the day. The show was opened by children’s groups from Russian schools, all brightly dressed singing traditional Russian songs accompanied by traditional Russian dances. This was followed by a variety of successful Russian bands, such as Balagan Limited and In-Yan. 

From what I seen, I understand why Maslenitsa has started being celebrated internationally and why London is making the festival an annual celebration. I would advise anyone to attend next year; it’s free, so just go try it for yourself. Yes, the songs are in Russian so you may not understand them, but it’s a day of culture, fun and an amazing experience.