As the largest Greek festival in Australia, Paniyiri has been thrilling Brisbane residents for more than 40 years. This year, 60,000 people are expected to attend the two-day festival which features more food, music and dancing than you could poke an olive branch at. Across Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, guests will flock to South Brisbane to get their yearly fix of Greek culture.
Two words: honey puffs. These small, sweet balls of cinnamon-spiked dough are so darn delicious, we challenge you to stop at one. Other foodie highlights include baklava, spanakopita, yiros, haloumi, and enough lamb to make Yiayia (Grandma) weep! More than 30 food stalls will cater to your feasting needs – from The Plateia (next to the Greek Club) across to Musgrave Park. Keep an eye out for celebrity chefs, Greek cooks, and published cookbook authors, who will be keen to share their kitchen tips.
Make sure you nab a prime viewing spot to see the Hellenic Dancers on Saturday night. Dressed in elaborate, traditional costumes, more than 100 skilled dancers will perform for the crowd. This incredible group has been a festival favourite for 40 year, and their demonstration continues to be a highlight of the festival. Some more fancy footwork will be on display during Greek Dancing With The Stars, a program feature that will entertain guests on Saturday night.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement at Paniyiri – and you may even find yourself up on stage. Consider yourself to have a monster appetite? Stuff your face in the olive, honey puff or spaghetti-eating competitions. For more athletic types, there is grape stomping, plate smashing, and zorba challenges. Test your skills in the kitchen by entering the Greek coffee-making competition, or baklava-baking contest.
Have you ever listened to the bouzouki? This traditional Greek instrument has a soulful, mellow sound that will instantly transport the listener to Athens. Paniyiri has scored Australia’s best bouzouki player, Nick Paras, and his equally talented brother, drummer Mike Paras.
Keen for some Greek dancing? Don’t miss the opportunity to try Zorba’s Dance alongside Greek celebrities such as Ada Nicodemou, Penny McNamee, and other Channel 7 stars.
THE FEEL-GOOD FACTOR
While guests are busy eating, drinking, and dancing, the funds raised at the Paniyiri Festival are channelled back into the community by the Greek Orthodox Community of Brisbane. Schools, aged care services, welfare groups and childcare groups all benefits from funds donated by the festival. It’s Hellenic hospitality, with a healthy dose of heart.
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