Brisbane is getting ready to go Greek this month, as the city’s largest cultural festival returns for a flavour-filled weekend.
More than 60,000 people are expected to turn out for the event, which food-wise equates to some 300,000 loukoumades, 100,000 souvlakia, almost 12,000 dolmades, 20,000 coffees, 1,600 kilograms of grilled haloumi, 10,000 sheftalies and 1,000 kilograms of calamari.
This year’s festival is a particularly special one, as organisers introduce The Plateia, which will turn Musgrave Park into Brisbane’s very own authentic Greek village. The Hellenic Dancers will also be celebrating their 40th anniversary since first taking to the stage at the festival in 1977 back when it was called Ekthisis. They will put on a range of traditional performances by dancers who have been a part of the group over the past four decades ranging from three years of age to over 70.
Each year the Paniyiri attracts a star-studded line-up, this year featuring Cypriot Australian actress Ada Nicodemou along with her Home & Away co-star Penny McNamee, and House Rules contestants Aaron and Daniella.
Attendees will be kept entertained with over 20 hours of entertainment on the main stage.
Performing as part of the entertainment line-up will be Nick Paras, known as Australia’s best bouzouki player, together with his band NIX Live, as well as singer Paraskevi Kontoleon, the Canberra Hellenic Dancers, and more.
Greek Dancing with the Stars returns featuring special celebrity guests and judges, including Bianca Dye from 973 FM. There will also be the famous ZORBA-Til-You-Drop competition, grape stomping, olive and honey puff eating competitions, spaghetti eating, plate smashing, and the return of the great Greek characters, Herc and Xena.
When it comes to food, festival-goers will be spoilt for choice with over 30 stalls showcasing the tastes, recipes and secrets of food from all over Greece.
If you’re interested in learning more about Greek flavours, the Traditional Greek Cooking Program at the Greek Club will have some great insight.
Headlined by Melbourne-based chef and author Kathy Tsaples, she will share her favourite recipes learnt in her mother’s kitchen and passed down from one generation to the next.
Joining her will be authors of Mezze Chrystalla Tzaneros and Sia Aristidou; Mediterranean Eating: Cook, Eat Live authors Lisa Peterson and Desi Carlos; and Aliki Vazanellis author of Breaking Bread, along with representatives from the Asia Minor Greek Historical Society and the Cypriot Youth of Brisbane.
The Greek Club will also be hosting readings and talks on author Nikos Kazantzakis, along with a display of authentic Cretan musical instruments, and traditional costume.
On the final day of the Paniyiri, the Greek Orthodox Church of St George will be conducting three short 20-minute concerts by the St John Damascus Community Choir of St George.
For those who missed out last year, organisers have reissued the 40th Anniversary Paniyiri Cookbook. Free to download from the event’s official website, it features over 40 pages of much loved recipes made up of favourites collected from the Paniyiri Cooking Program and the Greek Orthodox Southside Parish Ladies Auxiliary Cookbook.
Organised by the Greek Orthodox Community of St George, all funds raised from the event will be channelled back into the community by the Church.
Paniyiri 2017 takes place on Saturday 20 May from 12 noon, and Sunday 21 May from 10.00 am at Musgrave Park and The Greek Club (Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane, QLD).
See Paniyiri on Facebook for all up-to-date information. Tickets: $12 adults (13+), $5 all pensioners, children free. Two-day pass $20. For tickets and to download the Anniversary Cookbook for free, visit paniyiri.com or call (07) 3844 1166. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.