Last weekend, London had the chance to party Ukrainian-style as a new festival celebrating our unique culture, music, fashion, and art arrived in the capital. We hope that the three-day celebration of all things Ukrainian - called Days of Ukraine in the UK - brought a taste of our rich history and vibrant contemporary culture to everybody who joined in the festivities across London.
The festival Days of Ukraine in the UK was created by The Firtash Foundation - an organisation which I founded along with my husband Dmitry in 2008. We were aware that many people in Europe didn't truly understand what modern Ukraine was like and that we needed to spread the word about what a unique and innovative nation we come from. We are proud of our creative contemporary art, cutting-edge fashion design and exciting music scene and we hope that Londoners who came to the festival have been surprised by what Ukraine has to offer.
However, this festival was more than just a party. Ukraine is at an important point in its history. Twenty years ago we emerged from the Soviet Union into a new political and social freedom and we saw artists, designers, film-makers, musicians and all sorts of creative industries begin to develop. Now we have an established culture, a combination of centuries of age-old traditions and contemporary art, music and fashion scenes that are born from this new sense of liberation. Yet the rest of the world seems to know next to nothing about all of the amazing things that are happening in Ukraine.
I strongly believe that we should always share our similarities, and celebrate our differences. This festival was essentially about exactly that - sharing our culture and traditions with the people of the UK, paving the way for an increased understanding and mutual respect between our two nations. We chose a keyhole as the logo for the festival because it represents what we want to achieve. We want to unlock the potential of Ukraine and open our country to the world. We hope that Days of Ukraine in the UK has inspired the beginning of a deep friendship between our two great nations.
This festival is deeply personal for me. I was born in Russia, but I married a Ukrainian and I love the country that is now my home. I have an eight-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy, who were born in Ukraine and are truly Ukrainians. I want them to grow up to be very proud of their country and I want their whole generation to help to make Ukraine a key partner to the global community. As well as this, my husband has built a great business and he wants to ensure that the future of his business and his country is in safe hands. It is only by investing in the next generation and promoting our role internationally that we can ensure the future of our country.
As our country begins to take on a more active role on the world stage, it makes sense for our nations to begin to work together as friends and partners. And as we look back on a weekend of art, fashion, music and culture - it seems like we can have fun on the way.
Lada Firtash, with her husband Dmitry, founded The Firtash Foundation in 2008. The Firtash Foundation is committed to supporting education and culture in Ukraine. In October 2013 The Firtash Foundation brought Days of Ukraine in the UK - a major cultural festival - to London for the first time. Days of Ukraine in the UK was organised by The Firtash Foundation with support of Group DF, an international group of companies based in Ukraine.