Cutting The Red Tape On The ‘Bulgarian Spring’ @ Kensington Gardens

Yesterday, London’s Bulgarian community gave a gift to Londoners – a new drinking fountain near the Mount Gate in Kensington Gardens, appropriately named ‘Bulgarian Spring‘.

The brainchild of the Bulgarian City Club, a networking organisation that builds links between the British business community and Bulgaria, the ‘Bulgarian Spring’ stands about 4 feet high and has traditional Bulgarian embroidery patterns arranged around its base. Attending the launch were HRH Kyril, Prince of Preslav (the second son of deposed Bulgarian monarch Tsar Simeon II, who has the familiar surname of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) who gave the main speech, Bulgaria’s Minister of Sport, Svelin Neykov (who also happens to be a world-class rowing coach – in fact his wife won gold in rowing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) and senior dignitaries from the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, within which Kensington Gardens falls.

prince kyril bulgarian spring official opening ceremony

Accompanying them were an array of young Bulgarians dressed in traditional folk costume, and the Archpriest of the Bulgarian Orthodox community in London, Simeon Iliev, who gave a traditional blessing over the drinking fountain. The whole ceremony was a rather colourful and noisy affair – a bit like Bulgaria itself if my visit to the capital, Sofia, some years ago is anything to go by!

young bulgarians in folk costume at official opening of bulgarian spring in kensington gardens

blessing of bulgarian spring at official opening in kensington gardens

Following the formal opening ceremony a nearby group of marquees hosted a Bulgarian cultural festival – traditional Bulgarian crafts were on display, there was a children’s story-telling tent and, on the main stage, big stars of the Bulgarian music scene entertained a large crowd of Bulgarian ex-pats and interested onlookers. Amongst them were a few of the female members of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, known for their performances as the official state television ladies choir from the 1950s onwards, a very energetic young singer from the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation, and Bulgarian jazz legend Beloslava. Of course the kids got a look in again, when children from the London’s Bulgarian School took to the stage for some traditional folk singing and dancing. Well-known mime artist Alexander Iliev also mesmerised the audience with his outlandish antics…

beloslava performing at official opening of bulgarian spring, kensington gardens

mime artist Alexander Iliev performs at official opening of bulgarian spring, kensington gardens

Given the hot weather, the unveiling of the ‘Bulgarian Spring’ couldn’t have come at a better time – you can see all of the photographs I took of the official unveiling and the following festivities here. I also took the opportunity to photograph some of Bulgaria’s beautiful people, and visitors sampling the fresh water from the fountain for the first time…

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About The Londoneer

Pete Stean is a keen blogger, amateur photographer, singer and ham radio enthusiast in his spare time...


  1. [...] Bulgarian rowing coach opens new drinking fountain in London’s Kensington Gardens – tenuous connection, I know. [...]

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