Who can resist pancakes? Sweet or savoury, there are a tremendous variety of styles, thicknesses and contents from which to choose. But for anyone in London on Tuesday 13th February, there are other pancake delights to experience.
All you have to do is head out of your room at the Best Western Palm Hotel over to Westminster or Spitalfields to enjoy the sight of one of the UK’s oldest traditions underway. These are the pancake races which take place on the last Tuesday before the start of Lent, the 40 day period before Easter. This day is known as Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. The exact date of Pancake Day does vary from year to year, along with the date of Easter – but it always takes place on a Tuesday. Hotels in North London often feature some exciting treats for guests staying over Pancake Day
The origins of Pancake Day lie in Lenten customs of fasting and avoiding certain types of food such as eggs during that period. The idea was that on Pancake Day all those items would be used up prior to the start of Lent, and naturally this led to festivities taking place which included pancake races.
Pancake races are a simple idea. Individuals or teams would run set distances tossing pancakes in frying pans. If they dropped the pancakes as they ran, they lost the race. The winner is always the person who manages to successfully toss the pancake all the way to the finishing line – and make the quickest time.
London has two big Pancake Races. The first one is in Westminster, at the Victoria Tower Gardens close to the Houses of Parliament. The contenders are no less than members of the House of Commons, members of the House of Lords and members of the Press who work in the Houses of Parliament. There is always a lot of friendly rivalry as a result! Many familiar faces can be found among the runners. All proceeds from the event go to charity.
For the second race, head for the East End of London. The venue is the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race is not the easiest of routes to run as it involves running along cobbled streets – definitely not easy when you are trying to catch pancakes at the same time! Anyone can take part as long as a donation is made to the London Air Ambulance Service. Each race involves a team of four people, all of whom wear fancy dress.
Don’t forget to enjoy some pancakes too. Among the best places to eat pancakes in London are My Old Dutch (Holborn, Kensington and Chelsea), The Kensington Creperie, The Wolsely in Picadilly and Crème de la Crepe in Covent Garden.
So, be a part of the best February events by staying in Hotels near Wembley Stadium.