During Shrovetide the World's Highest Pile of Pancakes will Be Baked

The Moscow authorities are planning to make the Shrovetide, a week of farewell to winter, an annual holiday of a large scale that could attract a greater number of foreign tourists to the Russian capital in a usually non-popular winter-spring season.

Grigory Antyufeyev, chairman of the committee for tourism of the Moscow government, told reporters about it on the eve of the Shrovetide.

In 2003, the Shrovetide (Pancake Week) will last from March 3 to 9.

The organisers of the holiday have worked out a programme which in its scale can be compared with the carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and Venice, assured the main director of the holiday week, Sergei Komin. It is expected that not only Muscovites, but guests from all over Russia will arrive in the capital to take part in the celebrations. The Moscow authorities have decided to hold the Pancake Week in accordance with the ancient Russian traditions.

In the very heart of the city, on the Vasilyevsky Spusk (slope) of the Red Square, a Pancake Town will be built where the main events will take place. All kinds of games, performances, contests, variety and folklore concerts, carnivals and, of course, pancakes themselves are in store for the guests during the Pancake Week. As the last year, the organisers of the holiday intend to set a record for the Guinness Book. The participants of the contest, including a number of well-known politicians, will try to bake the highest pile of pancakes.

One of the days of the Pancake Week has coincided with the Women's Day of March 8. Therefore, the organisers have prepared a programme specially for this day and called it "A Day of Kisses." The holiday will conclude in a merry march from the Triumphalnaya Square to the Vasilyevsky Spusk whose participants will be people's actors, mountebanks and brass bands on mobile decorated platforms. The peak of the march will be the burning down of the symbol of winter - a straw doll, and shouts that will welcome the spring.