Less than 50 days remain before Brisbane officially turns Greek for two days when the state’s biggest cultural festival, the Paniyiri Greek Festival, takes over the city in a haze of flavour-filled barbeque smoke.

Paniyiri 2017 highlights include the introduction of The Plateia – an authentic Greek Village – a line-up of authors, chefs, speakers, home cooks, and the Hellenic Dancers Showcase Program.

Andrea Pappas, of MacGregor, said in 2016 that she had been involved in the Paniyiri festival for decades. Pappas was a teacher at MacGregor State School and founded the school’s Greek Dancers in the late 1990s. This dance group now performs annually at Paniyiri, which Pappas said was a not-to-be-missed event in Brisbane.

“It’s energetic, it brings all the Greek community together, it displays our culture,

 it’s a fun festival, we just love the atmosphere,” she said.

Paniyiri began in 1976, with a group of Greek Australians dream of bringing the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and atmosphere of Greece to the streets of Brisbane. It continues to remain true to the original plan, attracting over 60 000 visitors to the event each year. In the 41 years of Paniyiri, almost two million festival goers have devoured well over five million honey puffs, rivers of thick sweet coffees, 25 tonnes of haloumi and countless calamari and Dolmades.

Kos Kastrissios, member of the Paniyiri organising committee, said this year’s festival would offer plenty of food, music, wine, entertainment, and crowd interaction, and that the festival had enjoyed steady growth during its history. 

“It’s really for everyone, you don’t have to be Greek to enjoy everything about Greece,” he said.

This year The Plateia aims to emulate what an authentic community on a Greek island would be like, bringing another element of cultural flair to the festival. The Plateia will celebrate the sights, smells and tastes of a traditional Greek Village, and have been designed paying tribute to the distinctive Cycladic architecture. Think iconic blue window shutters and doors, narrow, paved streets, vine-covered pergolas, whitewashed walls and market stalls full of colour, flavours and character.

The Paniyiri Festival will be held on May 20 and 21 at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane, with all funds raised going back into the community via the Greek Orthodox Community of St George.