Brisbane Paniyiri is not only the longest-running Australian Greek festival but also Queensland’s largest cultural festival. The Greek Club and Musgrave Park in West End are gearing up for a big celebration this weekend honouring all things Greek.
The Paniyiri Greek Festival is celebrating its 39th year over 10 days, with events culminating over the 23 and 24 May weekend and with more than 60,000 people taking part in this journey of discovery, culture and celebration.
One of the strongest and most vibrant Greek communities has been established in Brisbane since the 1920s, which is the reason that fired a group of Greek Australians with the passion to share their culture and love for all things Hellenic with Brisbane back in 1976.
The team decided to create a platform introducing dance, music and Greek cuisine to the rest of the community, welcoming multiculturalism.
“Musgrave Park in South Brisbane will transform into a Greek marketplace with many food stores and local entertainers, delivering the biggest, longest and most fun Paniyiri festival featuring attractions that will include zorba dancing, plate smashing and traditional Greek delicacy eating,” Chris Cazonis of the Paniyiri Organising Committee tells Neos Kosmos.
“The secret food of Greece is showcased at the stalls filled with mouth-watering dishes, mezedes, plenty of Greek beer and wine set to satisfy even the most demanding tastebuds.”
Greeks and honorary Greeks will attend, including state and federal officials as Prime Minister Tony Abbott will be launching the weekend celebrations.
“Kitchen whizzes, magicians and TV stars – all set to ‘go Greek’ at Paniyiri 2015, along with seven-time world champion surfer Layne Beachley and her rocker husband Kirk Pengilly of INXS,” he adds.
The 20-hour long Brisbanthon will also include its own much-loved version of the popular TV show Greek Dancing with the Stars, which will be returning in 2015 with celebrities from Channel 7. Special guests and judges as well as stars from 97.3FM and Radio 4KQ will be taking part in activities all weekend, broadcasting live from the paniyiri carnival rides and amusements pit.
The fun won’t end there as Home & Away stars George Mason and Bonnie Sveen, as well as My Kitchen Rules 2015 contestants Annie and Lloyd are set to appear at the popular festival. Moreover, Christopher Wayne (one half of the famous Naked Magicians), has a variety of aces up his celebrity sleeves.
“The Greek Orthodox Church will conduct tours accompanied by the Byzantine Choir for the music lovers, and cultural films will also be screening to keep the cinephiles satisfied,” Mr Cazonis says.
“Literature and philosophy lectures will also be held at the festival by Major General Smith, Dr Vlas Efstathis, Emeritus Professor Bob Milns, Susan Kellett and Anna Efstahiadou.”
“Greek-born, Brisbane-raised storyteller Melina Mallos is set to launch her first children’s bilingual English/Greek picture book Catch that Cat!- targeted at children aged 3 to 6 years- at this year’s Paniyiri Greek Festival over the weekend.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to take part in a world record Zorba Till You Drop attempt. On the main stage, famous Greek dances, the likes of Sirto, Kalamatiano and Sousta will be performed to music played on traditional Greek instruments including the bouzouki, tarabuka, lyra and laouto. Narissa the belly dancing queen will entertain the ladies, giving away her secret moves.
Meanwhile, the less daring can try grape stomping, olive and honey puff eating competitions,a pasta eating competition at the main stage and the return of The Best Greek Coffee Barista Competition.
The Greek Club will be a hive of activity with the popular traditional Greek Cooking Program, featuring Queensland’s culinary greats, making sure visitors won’t get hungry, while more than 30 food stalls will showcase the tastes, recipes and secrets of food and drinks from all corners of Greece.
“Just to spice things up a bit, this year festivalgoers are expected to down huge amounts of culinary delights produced by more than 100 stall holders,” he says.
“Handmade artisan pastry chef Ilias the Greek and raw super food treats producer Miss Bliss Treats will join a host of great Greek cooks and flavours, too.”
“Some 300,000 honey puffs, more than 100,000 souvlakia, almost 12,000 dolmades, 18,000 coffees, 1,600 kilograms of grilled haloumi, 10,000 sheftalies (Greek Cypriot sausage), 1,000 kilograms of calamari and another 1,000 kilograms of char-grilled baby octopus are bound to be exterminated during the gastronomical tours.”
The street adjacent to Brisbane’s Greek club will be closed to traffic to facilitate the main festival and side-show alley. The venue is accessible by public transport although limited parking spots are available in the nearby areas.
Tickets: $10 adults (13+), $3 all pensioners, children free admittance. Tickets online at www.paniyiri.com
When: Saturday 23 from noon, Sunday 24 May from 10.00 am
Where: Musgrave Park, 29 Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane
*For more information visit www.paniyiri.com or contact Kath Rose & Associates on 07 3357 9054 / 0416 291 493.