2016 has seen a huge boost to the numbers of Russian people coming to make their home in London; so much so that the year was officially designated as the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature by the British Council. This means a year of joint celebrations of the rich literary and language history of both the UK and Russia in both countries and there are certainly lots of places to go in London if you want to explore some of the diverse and interesting Russian culture.
Although previously not as widely advertised, there are plenty of opportunities in London to discover Russian culture whether that is works of art created by Russian artists, Russian theatre or Russian food. We have put together just a few suggestions of places you could choose to go if you wanted to explore the traditions of Russia in more depth:-
National Portrait Gallery
As part of the collaboration between the UK and Russia, the National Portrait Gallery is playing host to some painting of Russian key figures from 1867-1914 including artists, philosophers and actors. The special exhibition is part of an exchange between the State Tretyakov Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery as they both celebrate their 160th anniversaries this year. The National Portrait Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square, just a short distance from the Grand Hotel London Hyde Park In Paddington.
The British Library
Located in the heart of London, the British Library is home to a wealth of documents, literary fiction and treasures relating to Russian culture and history. You can discover Russia’s War from diaries and memoirs gathered by curator Dr Katya Rogatchevskaia and find out how civilians and soldiers from Russia coped during the First World War or perhaps you might instead to prefer to find a quiet spot and delve into a Russian literary classic?
The aim of Mari Vanna is to make you feel as though you are experiencing traditional Russian cuisine in a traditional Russian home; with interior additions such as the Russian bear, stacking dolls, Cheburashka and shelves laden with Russian literature, no detail is overlooked at Mari Vanna. Situated in Knightsbridge, the menu here features classic Russian dishes such as Soup Borsch, Golubtzi and a whole range of diverse Russian vodkas; sweet or savoury, these house-infused drinks include the likes of oats and honey, horseradish and cucumber!
The exquisite performance which can only come from a Russian ballet is something which anyone looking to view modern Russian culture should aim to experience at least once. Every year the Bolshoi Ballet performs for a season at the Royal Opera House but if you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets (the 2016 season is now over) then there is also the London Russian Ballet School which regularly hosts performances as well as the touring Russian Ballet company which often comes to London’s theatres with productions such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.