Festival season in the Peloponnese
Wednesday 12, June 2013
Festival season this year doesn’t need to be about mud filled wellies, inside out tents and queuing for portaloos. The Peloponnese in sun soaked southern Greece has a packed calendar of musical, theatrical, foody and sporting events that guarantee great weather.
So swap flooded fields for olive groves, traffic jams for a short flight, and cider and a pie for grilled aubergines, figs and red wine.
We’ve picked a few of the best festivals happening in the region this summer to whet your appetite. Some are internationally recognised and at others you will be cultural pioneers!
21 - 30 June 2013: Nafplion Festival, Argolida
During the balmy late June nights, musicians from across Greece and further descend on the charming seaport town of Nafplion. Every little corner comes to life with music and for a long week the town vibrates to hundreds of local and international rhythms. This well established music festival has been running for the last 21 years.
4 - 7 July 2013: Aubergine Festival of Tsakonia, Leonidio, Arcadia
Great food and great music is a marriage made in heaven. In this part of the world the Aubergine is the star of the local cuisine. It is used in many recipes and for three days in July producers and visitors pay homage to this wonderful ingredient. In parallel, musicians from across the Mediterranean come to the picturesque village of Leonidi to accompany the festival with jazz, Greek and Latin music (‘Melijazz’). The three days are a melee of singing, dancing and eating not to be missed!
July and August: Epidaurus Festival, Epidaurus, Argolida
This major theatrical festival is one of the most prestigious cultural events in Greece. Every Friday and Saturday throughout July and August visitors flock to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus for performances of plays dating back thousands of years. The theatre is one of the country’s most beautiful and best preserved auditoria and seats 15,000 people. The plays and the building are both spectacles in their own right, and together they provide a heart stopping experience for drama enthusiasts. While the plays take centre stage in Epidaurus’s principle ancient theatre, various important musical events take place in a second smaller theatre in July.
18-25 July: Kalamata International Dance Festival, Kalamata, Messinia
Featuring shows from outstanding Greek and international performers, The Kalamata International Dance Festival is one of the city’s most important cultural events and a significant date on the South Mediterranean dance calendar. The programme is designed to promote and show off the very best in contemporary dance and away from the stage there is a wide selection of talks and workshops.
August: Olive and Olive Oil Festival, Village of Sellasia, Lakonia
In early August, producers from the across the municipality of Sparta, Lakonia gather together in the village of Sellasia to promote the wonderful Lakonian olives and olive oil. This exhibition of the very best of the local produce also includes various cultural events, tasting and folk music.
15th August: Celebrations all over the Peloponnese
The 15th of August is the most important religious holiday in Greece after Christmas and Easter. Traditional feasts (‘paniyiri’) take place in almost every village square, just follow the sounds of the church bells and the music!
18th August: Fig feast, Polylofos, Messinia
The fig has been an important part of the food of Messinia for centuries, and each August there is a month long festival in its honour! Saying thanks to the figs mostly involves eating them in large quantities. Visitors are treated to an awe inspiring selection of local dishes featuring the fruit - fresh figs, dried figs, fig jams and preserves, fig desserts….altogether a proper fig feast! This all takes place to the sound of live Greek music.
First weekend of September: ‘Great Days of Nemea’, Nemea, Korinthia
Every year at the beginning of September, wine producers in the town of Nemea organise a three-day party to celebrate the grape harvest and the region’s wine making heritage. The festival includes visits to wineries and vineyards, tasting, seminars and a series of cultural performances. For wine lovers, this is a great opportunity to celebrate the new harvest with the producers.
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