Throughout year, and especially in the summer, cultural festivals of all types are the anticipated events. Both locals and travelers to Greece look forward to these festivals of music, dance and theatre at some of the most scenic and historic venues across the country.
The festivals in Attica, which is the region around Athens, and the Saronic islands are many and they not only draw the culture, artistic crowds but also those looking to enjoy a piece of Greece from another perspective. Here’s a look at the best cultural festivals in Attica and the Saronic islands.
Athens and Epidaurus Festival
One of the leading culture festivals in the world is the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. This festival has been running every summer for more than 50 years, a fine schedule of cultural events taking place during the summer months. The most notable are ancient Greek theatre performances, performed in modern Greek, at the Herodes Atticus Theatre. Also known as the Herodion, located on the south slope of the Acropolis, this open-air theatre which dates back to the second century is one of the most scenic places to experience this festival.
It doesn’t end there, Athens’ modern theatres and performance spaces are scheduled with fantastic modern theatre, traditional and contemporary dance, classical music, jazz performances and more.
Other festival venues include old industrial warehouses, and the ancient theatres at Epidaurus, about a 1.5-hour drive from Athens.
Best to book in advance: www.greekfestival.gr
You can’t go wrong bringing together the most passionate musicians on the European continent. All that come about with such collaboration is beautiful performances. In Greece, it’s all accomplished in an inspiring landscape of islands. The Saronic Festival is organized by the Leondari Ensemble, which is a group of friends and musicians from around the globe with experiencing performing in some of the most prestigious ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Piano Trio.
During the month of August, several concerts feature the eternal works of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Beethoven and Debussy. This unique dedication to the beauty of chamber music takes place on the islands of Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Galatas, Methana and Kythira.
For more information, visit: www.saronicfestival.com
Greek Jazz Panorama
The Onassis Cultural Centre hosts one of the most exciting festivals centered around jazz. The Greek Jazz Panorama is a three-day event that explores the contemporary Greek jazz and improvisation scene. During the festival, several notable Greek jazz groups wow audiences with their talents.
Check the Onassis Cultural Center site for updates: www.sgt.gr
Aisxylia in Elefsina
Just outside of Athens is one of the most fascinating ancient centers of Greece called Elefsina or Eleusis. It was once the most mysterious place on earth when the Eleusian Festival took place here each year. Then, thousands of pilgrims walked a sacred way from the Acropolis to be indoctrinated into the “ancient mysteries.” To divulge the secrets and rituals of the mysteries meant death. Even to this day, it isn’t fully understood what those mysteries were.
Today, Elefsina is vying to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021 and as a result the Aeschylia Festival was born to show the world just how up and coming this city is today. Taking place during the summer months, the festival hosts more than 70 events including theater performances, dance shows, concerts, movie screenings, art gallery exhibits, local performances, a half-marathon race, lectures and a conference.
For more information, visit: www.aisxylia.gr
One of the most anticipated music events in the Greek capital is Release Athens. Taking place in the open-air venue called Plateia Nerou in Delta Falirou with a beautiful sea view, this exciting music fest attracts some of the top acts in the world. Energetic crowds add to the lively and fun atmosphere. In the past, renowned artists such as PJ Harvey, Beirut, Sigur Ros, The Black Angels, Daughter have taken the stage here.
In 2017, Thievery Corporation, Jamiroquai and Royksopp are headlining Release Athens.
For more about Release Athens, visit the official site at: www.releaseathens.gr
Have you ever been to any of these cultural festivals in Attica and the Saronic islands? Which one would you like to be in town or on the islands for?