Record crowds gather as Greek Fest returns to Darling Harbour

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Sydney’s Darling Harbour turned blue and white on Sunday, February 19 as record crowds gathered to enjoy the Greek Fest.

Greek Fest Darling Harbour is one of over 25 events organised by the Greek Festival of Sydney this year to celebrate its 41st anniversary. All the events are proudly presented by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOCNSW).

Starting at 11am, Sydney’s Greek community were in for a treat as they enjoyed live music all day from bands such as Iho Nyx, Mistura and SousAnna’s. Konstantina Touni and Tryfonas Anastasiou also came direct from Greece to entertain the masses and drew loud applause.

Youth also put on their dancing shoes and costumes for Greek dancing performances by Sydney Greek Dancing School, Sydney Sizmos, Sophia Ventouris School of Dance, Cyprus Community of NSW Dance Group, and the GOCNSW Dancing Group under the instruction of Paroula and Nicole Thurban.

Amongst all the music and dancing, festivalgoers could be seen mingling with each other and browsing a number of stalls selling handmade jewellery, candles and religious icons.

One festival attendee, Reuben, who was from Ghana, brought his daughter River to the event to expose her to “a bit more culture.”

“I mean my best friend’s Greek and I love the food! The people are always kind and nice as well,” Reuben told The Greek Herald with a laugh.

With any festival, there were also a number of official guests in attendance including the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Archbishop Makarios of Australia; the NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet; the NSW Labor Leader, Chris Minns; the Federal Member for Banks, David Coleman MP; the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Mark Coure; City of Sydney Councillor (Waskam) Emelda Davis; CEO of the Bank of Sydney, Miltos Michaelas; the President of GOCNSW, Harry Danalis; Chair of the Greek Festival of Sydney, Nia Karteris; and many other politicians and representatives from local Greek organisations.

The official proceedings began with a traditional smoking ceremony, followed by the singing of the national anthems of Greece and Australia by George Karantonis. Next up were speeches by the aforementioned special guests.

In his speech, the Premier Mr Perrottet reiterated the NSW Government’s pledge to invest $800,000 over the next four years to continue supporting the Greek Festival of Sydney. He also praised the Greek community for their valued contribution to NSW.

“This has become one of the biggest festivals, one of the biggest cultural festivals in NSW, but it’s also become one of the best. That is a tribute to our Greek community for having the foresight and the energy to keep this festival growing from strength to strength,” Mr Perrottet said.

Next to address the crowd was the NSW Labor Leader Mr Minns. In his speech, he stressed that the Greek Festival had “come a long way from its humble beginnings in the back streets of Marrickville.”

“I can only imagine that when the original festival was constituted the idea that it would spread to the middle of Sydney with tens of thousands of people and weeks of celebratory events, would’ve blown their minds away,” Mr Minns said.

“But it’s a tribute to the kind of dedication and work and the growing Greek community that we have in Sydney that that’s exactly what we have.”

At the conclusion of these official speeches, crowds gathered around the main stage in anticipation for the arrival of international singer, Alkistis Protopsaltis. Her performance left people singing along to her rhythmic music and people slowly jumped up to dance the night away.

Alkistis Protopsaltis.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos / Pamela Rontziokos.

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