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Every year, Athens is the stage for a diverse series of events and festivals bringing together hundreds and thousands of locals and visitors. Here is a selection of the 10 annual festivals happening in Athens you should not miss.
The event art lovers, curators, galleries and collectors are waiting for every year is Art-Athina, an international contemporary art fair, launched in 1993 by the Hellenic Art Galleries Association. As one of the oldest contemporary art fairs in Europe, it is a place where Greek and foreign art galleries, cultural institutions come together to interact, showcase artists and network.
Established in 1987, the annual Athens Photo Festival is organized by the Hellenic Centre for Photography and constitutes a major international festival of photography in the region. In constant evolution since its inception, the festival aims to provide a space where artists can exchange their artistic point of view and network. As an important cultural and artistic event in Greece, the festival takes the opportunity to present promising local talent and establish contact with artists from around the world.
The International Comics Festival of Athens, sometimes dubbed as the Babel Festival, has been around since 1996. Since the beginning, the cultural event has managed to attract international comic artists while promoting emerging local illustrators. From the start the festival takes you into a dreamland where comics and artistic expression meet and merge. Held at the Technopolis complex in Gazi, the event includes exhibitions of Greek and foreign artists, parallel concerts and events for all.
Every summer, from June to August, Athens and the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus are home to the Athens Epidaurus Greek Festival, a cultural event where theater, ballet, jazz, classical music, opera and even ancient drama performances are held in several locations in Athens (such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Lycabettus Theater) as well as in Epidaurus. Come enjoy a unique event considered as the most important cultural festival in the country.
The reference for rock music, the Rockwave Festival is a music festival happening every June at Malakasa, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Athens. Lasting over three days, the festival welcomes international and local bands and musicians, with concerts happening all day long, from morning till midnight.
Established by the Athens International Film Festival and CINEMA magazine in 2011, the Athens Open Air Film Festival is somewhat of a magical event where film screenings and parallel cultural events are happening all around Athens in the most unique urban settings against some of Athens’ most iconic monuments. The festival invades parks, pedestrian streets, squares, open-air movies and even museums’ courtyards to offer unforgettable memories to locals and visitors free of charge. Don’t miss this chance of seeing an old-time classic or discovering a movie in your next-door park or with the view of the Acropolis.
Held in end of May/beginning of June, the Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival is the annual rendez-vous for jazz and music lovers. With a desire to present international and local jazz talent, from classic jazz to funk and Afropop, to the Greek public, the event is one of the musical highlight of the year in the Athenian calendar.
Every year, Greece and Athens as well, celebrate the full moon in August, the brightest and most impressive full moon of the year, with a plethora of events. For example, a series of monuments and sites remain open free of charge for longer, while other celebrations are scheduled as well, such as free concerts in various museums of the city and in other landmarks. If you are visiting Athens at the time, make sure to check the events available.
Since the beginning, the Athens International Film Festival – Opening Nights, organized by the Athens Film Society, has the desire to present a carefully chosen selection of indie films, documentaries and hand-picked premieres from the world over to Greek audiences, and includes over 120 feature films from Greece and abroad. The event is a no-miss for all cinephiles.
A treat for book worms, the Athens Book Fair is organized every year by the Association of Book Publishers, in partnership with the City of Athens’ Cultural Organization and Historical Archives. For a couple of weeks, hundreds of stalls are set up in the Zappeion where visitors can browse through the pages of Greek literature classics, best-sellers and new releases. The event includes a series of related activities such as exhibitions or readings for book aficionados of all ages.