Say goodbye to winter with Vodka and pancakes, music and song at the London Maslenitsa Festival a traditional Russian festival to welcome the spring that takes place across London from 19 – 26 February 2012. The London Maslenitsa Festival is the largest celebration of Russian culture, art, music and food anywhere outside Russia.  The Maslenitsa celebration is a centuries old Russian tradition that bids farewell to the bitter winter months and welcomes the beginning of the spring. It also marks the last feast before Lent in the Russian Orthodox calendar, when rich foodstuffs must be used up before the Lenten fast; just like Shrove Tuesday in the UK, the traditional Maslenitsa meal is a Pancake but served with a Russian twist: instead of the usual lemon and sugar, Malenitsa pancakes, or Blinis are served with Caviar and Vodka. The London Maslenitsa Festival will bring venues across the city to life with a week of performances, food, exhibitions and events that will transport this important celebration of Russian culture to the heart of London. Highlights 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 master-classes with celebrity Russian Chefs exploring authentic Russian cuisine, including the quintessential Maslenitsa delicacy: the Blini. The events build to the climax of the Festival, 26 February – the day of Maslenitsa itself – when Trafalgar Square will be transformed into a bustling bazaar offering traditional Russian foods, handicrafts and souvenirs and original art from contemporary Russian artists. 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. Entrance is FREE.  London’s Maslenitsa Festival takes place at the same time as Maslenitsa festivals across Russia including Moscow’s Red Square. Londoners will able to exchange traditional Russian Maslenitsa greetings with Muscovites via giant video screens that will connect both Festivals taking place a thousand miles apart.  London’s Maslenitsa Festival has been created in cooperation with the Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority and The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and is supported by Moscow City Government. http://www.maslenitsa.co.uk/