42nd Greek Festival of Sydney officially opens in style


The 42nd Greek Festival of Sydney was officially launched on Thursday, February 22 with a three-course dinner event at The Grand Roxy in Brighton-Le-Sands, Sydney.

This year’s program involves more than 30 scheduled events such as festivals, book launches and music concerts which are set to showcase Greek history, culture and music. The Festival is an initiative of the Greek Orthodox Community of New South Wales (GOCNSW).

During the launch on Thursday, more than 100 distinguished guests and Greek community leaders attended and were given an insight into the Festival’s program for the next 15 weeks from February to June.

greek festival of sydney launch night
All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night

Official guests included, but are not limited to, Courtney Houssos MLC; Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia, Chrysa Prokopaki; First Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the Consulate of Greece in Sydney, Anastasia Christofilopoulou; Waverley Council Mayor Paula Masselos; and Randwick City Councillor Alexandra Luxford; as well as many business leaders and representatives from local Greek associations.

Once everyone was seated, emcee Artemis Theodoris Papoutsis welcomed guests to the launch and read out a letter by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, Governor of New South Wales.

greek festival of sydney launch night (18)
Artemis Theodoris Papoutsis (left) was emcee on the night.
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night

In her message, Ms Beazley congratulated the Greek Festival of Sydney for their promotion of the Greek community, its culture and history.

“Since its inception more than four decades ago, the Greek Festival of Sydney has grown to become an iconic and much loved celebration by your community in our wonderful multicultural city,” she wrote.

“Showcasing Greek culture in all its vibrance, the Festival’s annual program of events, including street fairs, concerts, theatre and dance performances, and exhibitions, has enriched generations of locals and visitors alike.”

greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night
greek festival of sydney launch night

This reading was followed by a number of speeches from the President of GOCNSW, Harry Danalis; the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Steve Kamper MP; Liberal Member for Miranda, Eleni Petinos MP; Bayside Council Mayor Bill Saravinovski; Honorary Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, Edward Spence; and Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris.

In his speech, Mr Danalis spoke about the aims of the Greek Festival of Sydney and how it can attract the next generation.

“The cultural events that we present each year… are aimed at promoting our culture to the Greek community and to the wider Australian community and in that way, not only preserving our culture and language, but also bringing together the younger generation… to be able to appreciate their heritage and that of their parents and grandparents,” he said.

The Consul General of Greece spoke next and made reference to Ms Karteris’ recent interview with The Greek Herald and her comment that one challenge she faces as Festival Chair is to ensure the program of events remain relevant with the changing times.

Mr Mallikourtis said the Greek diaspora today face two main challenges around maintaining the Greek language and engaging the younger generation, but added that the Greek Festival of Sydney is “making a great effort to address” these challenges.

“The Festival is an instrument to promote Greek culture and to pass on to the younger generation the values and the ideals of what it means to be Greek,” he said.

“Greek culture, unfortunately, is sometimes portrayed in a stereotypical manner. I think the Festival tries to hit the stereotype and to go beyond.”

Minister Kamper spoke next and said he was “really proud” the NSW Government were able to meet their pre-election commitment of investing $220,000 a year over the next four years to support the Greek Festival of Sydney. He also said he’s excited the Greek Fest is returning to “where it belongs” at Brighton-Le-Sands this year.

Ms Petinos MP thanked the Festival organisers for putting the event together and said it’s a great opportunity to “celebrate our heritage and beliefs.”

Mayor Saravinovski spoke about the Greek Fest at Brighton-Le-Sands and echoed Minister Kamper’s sentiments on the event.

“I’m excited because the Greek Fest is coming back to Bayside where it should always remain,” the Mayor said.

Mr Spence spoke as a representative of the artists at the event, giving a philosophical and eye-opening view of the Greek Festival of Sydney.

Ms Karteris finished off the official speeches with one of her own, thanking the official guests, festival artists and sponsors for their presence and encouraging everyone to enjoy the program of events scheduled for this year.

greek festival of sydney launch night
Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris.

As the Greek Fest at Darling Harbour celebrates 20 years this year, Ms Karteris also touched on the history of the event and promised this year’s Festival would be bigger than ever.

“Let’s not forget where the Greek Festival started 42 years ago… It started in Addison Road Community Centre, went to Campbell Oval for many successful years, then it went to Bay Street and now it’s at Darling Harbour. We respect where it started. We respect where it was. We respect where it is and we will always respect where it will go into the future,” she said.

At the conclusion of these speeches, awards were given to festival and media sponsors as a thank you for their support.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.




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