Around Greece in 80 days?

You would probably need a few more in order to tour the summer festivals taking place outside the capital

By Stella Sevastopoulou

YOU'D have to be more than just jet-set to be present at all of the summer festivals around Greece - omnipresent would be more like it. The fact is, there are so many festivals taking place, that you're spoilt for choice - from the seriousness of Delphi's festival, to the light-footedness (and headedness) of the Samorthraki Dance Festival, which comprises seven whole days of non-stop dance music (not for the fainthearted, good for losing weight though). Eighty days isn't enough to tour the cultural summer world of Greece, because the festival season runs from June through to August, and even takes up some of September. But if you're interested in combining your quality entertainment with some equally fine sun and sea, then you'll have to leave the Athens Festival behind, and plan your holidays to coincide with some of the festivals taking place outside the capital. This guide is designed to help you do just that.

Epidaurus, big and small

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus starts its own festival on July 4 and 5, with the performance of Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, to be performed by the Karolos Koun Art Theatre and directed by Mimis Kouyoumtzis. Then follow Aristophanes' Thesmoforiazouses by the Diadromi Theatre (July 11 and 12), Euripides' Electra by the Municipal Regional Theatre of Patras, directed by Themis Moumoulidis (July 18 and 19) and Euripides' Hecuba by the Spyros A Evangelatos Amphitheatre (July 25 and 26). August kicks off with Menandros' Epitrepontes by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (August 1 and 2) and continues with two more of Euripides' tragic masterpieces: Medea August 8 and 9), and Ion (August 15 and 16) - both to be performed by the Greek National Theatre. The festival ends on a light note with some Aristophanean farce, in the form of Frogs (by the State Theatre of Northern Greece, August 22 and 23).

At the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, the Musical July mini music fest also begins on July 4 and 5, with The Camerata Friends of Music Orchestra's performance Bewitched by Mozart. On July 11 and 12 follows a piano recital by Alexandra Papastefanou, while on July 18 and 19 the ALEA III Performing Arts Ensemble from Boston will present Music for Ancient Drama. Eleftheria Arvanitaki wraps up Musical July with concerts on July 25 and 26.

Dancing in Kalamata

Now, many of you might think that there aren't many reasons to visit Kalamata in the middle of summer, but you would, in fact, be wrong. The ninth International Kalamata Dance Festival that runs July 18-27 is definitely reason enough. With eight International troupes performing, (six of them coming to Greece for the first time) plus a taste of Greece's best dancing ensembles, this festival promises to be a great midsummer experience.

The Compagnie Marie Chouinard will inaugurate the fest on July 18, with their performance Etude #1, followed by the Inbal Pinto Dance Company who will present Israeli choreographer Inbal Pinto's Oyster (repeat performances by both troupes follow on July 19). Other performers taking part in the fest include: Xavier LeRoy (July 20, 21) Antonis Foniadakis (July 21, 22), Haris Mantafounis troupe (July 22), Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods (July 23, 24), Tero Saarinen Company (July 24, 25), George Piper Dances (July 25), Griffon and Met' Empodion troupe (July 26), Gelabert-Azzopardi Cia De Dansa (July 26, 27) and Nasser Martin - Gousset/La Maison (July 27).

For information and tickets: telephone 27210-80665 or 27210-80930, email,or check the website

Nachtmusic in Nafplio

For the twelfth year running, Nafplio will present to the public a quality programme for classical music lovers starting June 20 and running through to June 29. Mezzo soprano Teresa Berganza will open the Nafplio Festival together with pianist Juan Antonio Alvarez Parejo, performing works by Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Handel and Rossini. The following day, the Intrarti Orchestra will present works by Manuel de Falla and Joaquin Rodrigo, together with soprano Esperanza Fernandez. More Spanish flair is added with an evening of Flamenco provided by the Joaquin Ruiz troupe, and planned for June 22. Violinist Sasha Rozhdestvensky will perform with pianist Thanassis Apostolopoulos works by Prokofiev, Pericles Koukos, Ravel and Piazzolla on June 23. And there's more, such as some of the favourite tunes from Broadway musicals, and a tribute to femme fatale Alma Mahler, who married Gustav Mahler, but who had also captured the hearts of artists Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka and architect Walter Gropius, among others. Performances by cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Yiannis Vakarelis, the Borodin Quartet, the Bach Soloists of the Gewandhaus Orchestra with Jean Louis Steuerman on the piano, plus the Virtuosi di Praga together with pianist Bruno Leonardo Gelber are also on the agenda. Running parallel to the nine musical nights is an exhibition that pays homage to the great Diva of Opera, Maria Callas, comprising unpublished photographs from her performances.

For information and tickets, contact the Municipality of Nafplio, tel 27520-23332 or 27520-2874

Other festivals

In the Agonia district of the Municipality of Iraklio, the Yakinthia festival will be dedicated to Manos Hadjidakis this year, and runs July 3-6. Eleni Tsaligopoulou, Yiorgos Andreou, Maria Farantouri, Nikos Xydakis and Evanthia Reboutsika are among those performing.

The Renaissance Festival of Rethymno runs July 4-August 22, and includes a wide gamut of theatrical performances for young and old.

Along the River Arda, near the village of Kastanies in Evros, a music festival takes place every summer (this is its ninth year) which is definitely for camping fans. It runs July 22-28. Other festivals that combine nature's delights with those of music, are the Nestos River Music Festival and the Plastira Lake Festival.

The Samothraki Dance Festival transforms this most beautiful island to the Ibiza of Greece from August 28-September 3. Here, you can dance all night to techno and ambient beats provided by foreign and local djs mixing rhythms of three different stages.

The International Patra Festival offers an evening of classical music to be performed by the Patras Orchestra and the Patras Virtuosi on June 22. Yiannis Kotsiras performs June 24, followed by Simentera, all the way from Cape Verde (June 27). The festival continues in July with performances by Les Tambours du Bronx, the Tiger Lillies, Esma Redzepova among others, while August features the Cuban Orquestra Aragon. The festival ends in September with performances by Angelique Ionnatos.

The Kassandra Festival runs July 5-August 16 and takes plenty of Greek music and drama in its stride.

The Olympus Festival runs July 18-August 24 and includes performances by the City Ballet (July 18), plus plenty of Greek drama.

In Rhodes' Old Town the Days of Music festival (September 17-26) features medieval music, Vivaldi and more…

Thessaloniki's Theatro Dasous will host Aristophanes' Frogs (July 14, 15, 16), Euripides' Electra (July 22) and Bost's Medea (July 28, 29, 30). Events at Theatro Gis include Mario Frangoulis (June 23), the dance trouple Momix (June 27, 28) and Greek singer Haroula Alexiou (June 30).

The islands of Symi and Samos also have summer festivals.

(Posting date 15 March 2005)

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