Guide to the Annual Athens Festival in Greece

Every year, during the Athens Festival in Greece, the city’s ancient monuments are converted into theatres that overflow with crowds from around the world who come to experience the cultural magnificence of the city of Athens. Steeped in arts, history and culture, this ancient city hosts one of the largest celebrations of the art and culture in the world.

Commonly known as the Hellenic Festival, the Annual Athens event is a four-month long cultural extravaganza that takes place through the summer months in Athens. Music, dance, theatre and various other expressions of artistic talents are showcased in this popular festival. The most impressive venues in the city of Athens come to life during the summer months to host performances by artists both from Greece and from around the world. The venue of this festival is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus which is also called the Herodeion.

Through the years, some of the most famous names in the history of music, dance and theatre have graced this festival with their presence. Some of the famous personalities who have performed at the Athens Festival in Greece are Callas, Rostropovich, Mitropoulos, Pavarotti, Dimitris Sgouros, Leonidas Kavakos, Theodorakis, Savvopoulos, Protopsalti, Hadjidakis, Dalaras, Elton John and Marinella. The theatre styles featured range from Noh Theatre to the Peking Opera and Bunraku puppet theatre.

The Athens Festival in Greece or the Hellenic festival has had an eventful past. The festival began over 50 years ago in the year 1955 when the government of Alexander Papagos ruled Greece. In order to organise the event, Dinos Giannopoulis, a famous theatre director in America, was invited to Greece and given the task of organising the Athens Festival as he saw fit. In its opening year, the festival was a huge success and the program greatly focussed on theatre and music. The highlight of the events of the Athens Festival in 1955 was the performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra which was then conducted by Dimitris Mitropoulos.

Since the first year of the festival, the Athens Festival has grown in popularity and even the number of venues had to increase to accommodate the large crowds that came from around the world to view this event.

Many people from around the world specifically plan their trips to Athens to coincide with the dates of the festival. The schedule of the festival is available online or at the Athens Festival Office in the Spiromilios Arcade. Tickets are normally sold out well in advance, in some case months in advance, and they are available at the Odeon of the Herodes Atticus. Most shows begin at 9 pm.

** Article by Orson Johnson – Holiday Velvet.