As The Greek Herald arrived at the Greek Day Canberra festival at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Kingston on Sunday, it felt as though we had just landed in Greece.
The sun was shining, the scent of souvlakia and loukoumades wafted through the air, young children zoomed past on scooters with huge smiles on their faces, and people were breaking into Greek dance as they enjoyed the live Greek music.
These festivities, which were organised by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, were the perfect opportunity for people of Greek and non-Greek heritage to gather and experience what the Greek culture has to offer.
One of these non-Greek festival attendees, Richard Ko, told The Greek Herald on the day that he really enjoyed having Canberra’s Greek culture “accessible” to him.
“We are really enjoying the awesome Greek food and most importantly, being out after it’s been so bad with the rain and obviously just celebrating humanity as well,” Mr Ko said.
Besides Mr Ko and the thousands of other people who flocked to the festival, there were also a number of officials in attendance on the day.
This included the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, George Papacostas; the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Martha Mavrommatis; His Grace Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis; Colonel Ioannis Fasianos; the President of the Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra (GOCCC), John Loukadellis; and the General Manager of Community Services at St Basils NSW/ACT, Anita Bonanno; among many others.
Bishop Bartholomew gave a small speech on the day and welcomed everyone to the event.
“It is a new chapter for the life of the church here in Canberra, with His Eminence doing everything to unite the people, to unite the Greeks and to unite all the residents of Canberra,” His Grace said while encouraging everyone to enjoy the day.
And how could they not enjoy it?
There really was something for everyone with young children getting their faces painted, whilst others mingled and browsed the food and product stalls on offer.
Some of the stalls on display were Halloumi Me, Canberra Olympic FC, as well as souvlakia and loukoumades by St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and the GOCCC.
International Greek singer, Nikos Makropoulos, also gave a resounding two-hour performance which saw people jump out of their seats and break into a dance or two.
The President of the GOCCC, John Loukadellis, told The Greek Herald he was proud that the festival was a huge hit with the local Greeks and wider community.
“We’re very proud to have worked with the Archdiocese, the Canberra Greek community and St Nicholas church in hosting today. The crowd is buzzing, there is the smell of souvla in the air, it’s amazing,” Mr Loukadellis said.
78-year-old Hara Economopoulos, who has lived in Canberra for the last 60 years, also summed up the day perfectly when she said: “It’s good to see people, the atmosphere is nice, music is good, it’s a sunny day. I love it.”
*All photos by The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.