After another weekend of Greek festivities in Melbourne at the 36th Antipodes Festival, the city has now recognised the festival as a Tier 1 event.

Antipodes, the largest Hellenic festival in the global diaspora, joins the likes of the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Australian Open as significant events to take place in Melbourne.

“This isn’t just the biggest Greek Festival in Australia, it’s the biggest Greek Festival in the world. Classifying this Festival as Tier-1 event in Melbourne is truly inspiring,” said City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Nicholas Reece.

Over the years the event has now evolved into a hallmark event, uniting people of all backgrounds and ages to revel in Greek culture and celebrate the tapestry of cultural diversity.

Antipodes Festival “Zorba Til You Drop”. Photo: Constantly Flashing/Peter Kakalias

Such a significant event that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a surprise appearance, where he commended the contributions of the Greek community to Australia.

“It is fantastic to be here with you. The largest Greek population outside Greece right here in Melbourne,” he said on stage at the official opening on Saturday.

“Thank you for sharing with us your culture, your food, your language, your dance and your music.

“There is no community stronger in Australia than the Melbourne Greek community.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President of the Greek Community of Melbourne Bill Papastergiadis OAM.

The Antipodes Festival saw a gathering of other community leaders, members of parliament, and media representatives.

Launching the festival was President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) Bill Papastergiadis OAM, who reflected on its significance.

“This festival to me symbolises the simple pleasures that are brought to life, celebration with friends, coming together, the smiles associated with reuniting with sounds, smells and taste of lands afar,” he said.

Many other speakers of significance recognised the influence Hellenism has in Australia and the contributions of Greek Australians.

Photo: Constantly Flashing/Peter Kakalias

Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Viv Nguyen AM said the city wouldn’t be where it is today without Greeks.

“Melbourne’s multiculturalism would not have the form it has today without the contribution of the Greek community,” she said.

“Thank you very much for all your decades of hard work and for inspiring the other communities of the city. We need a strong, cohesive and collective society in Australia.”

Photo: Constantly Flashing/Peter Kakalias

Others who highlighted the contribution of Hellenism and the Greek identity to Australia’s development were Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services & Multicultural Affairs Hon Andrew Giles, leader of Victoria opposition MP John Pesutto, liberal candidate for Chisholm Theo Zografos and His Grace Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs in Victoria Ingrid Stitt also revealed they have provided $800,000 to the festival.

“It is so much more than sharing your culture and generosity, it’s about your hard work and sharing your values,” she said when talking about the festival.

“We know in investing in multicultural communities brings Victoria together.”

Photo: Constantly Flashing/Peter Kakalias