The streets of West End will be saturated with dancing, bouzouki music, and wafts of halloumi and honey puffs during the annual Paniyiri Greek Festival this weekend, from 21 to 22 May. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the event is expected to attract more than 600,000 attendees to Musgrave Park for 20 hours of entertainment.

Over the weekend, more than 100 Hellenic dancers will take to the Paniyiri Main Stage for a special performance featuring generations of dancers. The popular Greek Dancing with the Stars and its celebrity judges will return to delight audiences, and the melodies of bouzouki, tarabuka, lira, and laouto, traditional Greek instruments, will accompany famous Greek dances, including the Zorba, Sirto, Kalamatiano, and Sousta. The event will attract Greek stars from across Australia, including bouzouki player Nick Paras and his drummer brother Mike Paras. Paraskevi Kontoleon, a Greek

singer who has performed beside international Greek crooners, will dazzle crowds through the weekend

Those seeking a more hands-on experience can shake off their sweets in the ZORBA-Til-You-Drop competition or participate in grape stomping, an olive and honey puff eating competition, spaghetti eating, and plate smashing.

This year will mark the inaugural debut of The Plateia, an authentic Greek village constructed next door to The Greek Club. Visitors will be fully immersed in a village’s traditional smells and sights as they wander narrow streets lined with blue window shutters, whitewashed walls, and a bustling market. Traditional vendors include The Kafenio, where you can get your caffeine fix, Psaro Taverna, where fresh octopus is cooked on coals, and market stalls hawking Greek jewelry and headpieces.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without indulging in local cuisine, and over 30 food stalls will take over Musgrave Park with tastings, recipes, and cooking secrets. Attendees will have the chance to dine on calamari, souvlaki, dolmades, and Greek Cypriot sausages, all followed by thick, sweet coffees. The 40th Anniversary Paniyiri Cookbook has been reissued for the event and is free to download at paniyiri.com if you’re looking to introduce Greek flavors to your kitchen.

To give more insight into Greek culture and history, The Greek Club will host talks on notable Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis, along with displays of Cretan instruments and costumes. Cultural films will be screened next door.

Tickets ($20 for two days, $14 for one day, pensioner rates available) can be purchased at www.paniyiri.com and at the gate.

Read another story about the Paniyiri Greek Festival, here.

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