So it is that time of year again. The annual Greek Festival starts this Thursday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 600 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC. Yiasou is the Greek work for Hello, Goodbye and Cheers. The festival offers Greek cuisine and pastries, entertainment, art, shopping and more. This is the 30th year of the festival and is one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events.
The Yiasou Festival has been honored to receive several awards over recent years including:
• Best International Festival – Charlotte Magazine in 2005
• The Best of Charlotte Award for Best Festival in 2004 – Creative Loafing
• One of Charlotte’s Best Festivals in 2003 by Charlotte Observer readers
• Best Ethnic Festival of 2004, 2003 and 2000 – Creative Loafing
• Best Ethnic Festival of 1999 – Charlotte Magazine
Festival hours are:
Thursday, September 4 – 11am to 9pm
Friday, September 5 and Saturday, September 6 – 11am to 10pm
Sunday, September 7, noon to 8pm
Admission is 2.00 and children under 12 are free, accompanied by parent or guardian.
I asked some of my friends who are regulars at the Greek Festival and they provided the following Smarty Tips:
1. Only umbrella strollers – big strollers are hard to maneuver with crowds.
2. Most rides are only suited for children at least 3 yrs and up
3. Food is delicious; one friend told me you are sure to find something for even the pickiest eater. You can eat inside in the hall or at the booths. Cafeteria food line is long but worth the wait. Another friend warned me that her children didn’t like anything, so if you have a very picky eater, think about bringing your own food.
4. If there is anyway to buy tickets beforehand, please do – there are long lines and that is one line you could avoid. So if a mom or husband is coming home from work etc, stop off at ticket booth.
5. Keep a close eye on small wondering children, you can lose them easily. Dress in a bright color.
6. Parking is difficult, so plan on walking a distance to get to the festival
7. Thursday and Friday days, early evenings are best if you are trying to avoid the largest crowds
8. Children really love dancing on stage. After the shows are over, they let children dance on the stage – this has been a big hit for some of my friend’s children.
9. Lastly, have fun, fun, fun.
Featured attractions this year include:
Live Performances – Experience live Greek music entertainment by Kostas Kastanis and his band as they perform continuously throughout each day of the Festival. Also, you can experience the rich tradition of Greek dancing with the dance performances by the youth and adults of Holy Trinity in traditional Greek costumes on three separate stages. The youth range in age from preschool to high school, and they practice throughout the year in preparation for their performances at the Festival.
Children’s Play Land – The children will enjoy their adventure at the popular Play Land, an area on the festival grounds that has the atmosphere of a Fair complete with face painting, wax hands, caricatures, games and more. Play Land has been expanded with new rides and activities including the popular Swing Ride, Tubs of Fun Ride, Tijuana Twister Ride, Helicopter Ride, Children’s Ferris wheel, Atlantis, Jurassic Adventure and Slide. Play Land would not be complete without children’s goodies of popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones, which can be enjoyed on the front lawn of the festival grounds.
Choral Performance – Holy Trinity’s Cathedral Choir presents “Hymns of the Greek Orthodox Church”. A program featuring the rich heritage of ancient and modern musical styles of the Greek Orthodox Church. One performance only on Saturday, September 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Byzantine Exhibit – Experience Orthodoxy and its Byzantine roots. Breathtaking iconography among an array of Orthodox symbols is just a few of the beautiful religious items on display in this exquisite exhibit.
Greek Cultural Exhibit – One of the largest local collections on display, the Greek Cultural Exhibit will feature artifacts such as Greco-Roman spearheads and coins dating back to 500 BC and a living history presentation “Warriors of Greece”. Witness Greece’s most celebrated fighters, the elite Spartans in person. Experience the history and heritage of Ancient Sparta, and see why the Spartans were the most formidable warriors of all times. Also on display are artifacts and items illustrating the culture of the small villages of Greece, and interesting facts about the Greek language which is the origin of many words.
Thank you to Laurie and Amy who contributed tips to this article. If anyone has any additional tips, let us know.
Having lived within a block of the Greek Church for the last eight years our family looks forward to the Greek Festival every September. The parking is crazy, the music can become bit monotonous after 72 hours of the same songs over and over, but the food, the people watching and the fun is worth it all. For us it is like having a party in our back yard for four days! So much we usually throw a big porch party.The food is our favoite part. The Greeks do it right! From the gyros, to the cheese pizza and the pasteries. My husband and I enjoy the drive-through, which we walk through several times during the four day event. Our children love the cheese pizza and Greek fries.The best advice to beat the crowd is to visit the festival during the afternoon or early evening on Thursday or Friday. The lines are shorter for the rides and there is more opportunity for the children to dance on the stages after the Greek performers dance. Yiasou!Sarah C