Almost fifty thousand people turned up for the Greek Festival of Paniyiri in Brisbane, Queensland in Australia over the weekend to dance, shop, and get a taste of Greek food.
No other event gives Brisbane such a jolt of pure joy like this festival of Greek fun which opens a window to one of the world’s most interesting and ancient cultures.
Paniyiri Greek Festival is a multi-sensory experience where all ages and abilities are encouraged to dance the Zorba, stomp some grapes, shop the market stalls, and sample the huge variety of savory or sweet delicacies from multiple food stalls representing the different Greek regions.
“Paniyiri highlights diversity [and] encourages curiosity, and through sharing our stories with each other, it connects and unites the community,” organizer Chris Kazonis told Brisbane Times.
There were about twenty food stalls serving countless honey puffs, souvlaki, shiftalies, dolmades, calamari, and haloumi while guests watched cooking demonstrations as well as joined cooking classes and wine tastings.
“Whether you come for the saganaki or the souvlaki, the dolmades or loukoumades, to debate tasting notes of Greek wines, or join in the Zorba or the sousta, we know everyone leaves Paniyiri with their heart as full as their stomach,” said Kazonis.
The Greek festival of Paniyiri brings together people of all ages
“The power of Paniyiri is that it brings people of all ages and abilities together to dance, dine, and have a good time, which not only celebrates our culture but recognizes our need for connection,” he said.
Every food and market stall at the festival, held at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane, is run by the Greek community with money raised going towards community groups and charities.
Kazonis said the community had missed out on connecting with each other through food and culture as well as the economic benefits.
Paniyiri grew to be an anticipated event on the Queensland calendar after it began in 1976 with a simple picnic at the park by a group of Greek Australians who wanted to share their culture and cuisine with Brisbane.
In this way, Brisbane’s first Hellenic dance club was created in 1978 with dancers showcasing the tradition at every festival.