9 February 2022

New festival brings the flavours of Greece to Canberra

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Ancient Greeks exhibition

John Loukadellis, president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Canberra joins Matt Trinca, Director of the National Museum, and Senator Zed Seselja to launch the Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes exhibition. Photo: Supplied.

The pandemic may have put the National Multicultural Festival on ice for a second year, but Canberrans can still get their fix of international flavours at the National Museum of Australia this weekend.

For the first time, Canberra is hosting a major Greek Cultural Festival, the Agora, in partnership with the Greek Festival Sydney.

The Agora is an initiative of Canberra’s Greek community, whose members wanted to bring a taste of Greece to the capital.

In Ancient Greece, the word “agora” was used to describe an “open place of assembly” or gathering of people, which has been hard to achieve in Canberra recently due to capacity limits and restrictions.

But from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, 12 February, the National Museum of Australia will invite Canberrans and visitors to come together for a showcase of anything and everything Greek.

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Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra president John Loukadellis said the event would enrich the ACT’s multicultural offerings.

“By acknowledging, celebrating and getting involved in events such as this, it helps promote our Greek history and heritage, which can only add to the rich multicultural community we always celebrate in Canberra and its surrounding regions,” he said.

“These type of exhibitions bring tourists to our beautiful city, who stay in our hotels and spend their money locally.

“They not only provide great economic significance to Canberra but they enrich our lives with history, culture and with the knowledge we need to appreciate and embrace a multicultural Australia.”

Mr Loukadellis said he was looking forward to the weekend’s celebrations.

“Promoting the Agora and the Ancient Greek exhibit makes me very proud to be president of this great community,” he said.

“Everyone is welcome.”

Entry into the Agora is free, although tickets to the Ancient Greeks exhibition are available for purchase. About 2500 people are expected to attend.

The Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes exhibit displays original artefacts imported from the British Museum, while the stalls are expected to be filled with local artwork, imported sweets, pastries, clothing, religious icons, jewellery, perfume, homeware and more.

Among the favourites is likely to be the Greek sweets, including honey-dipped donuts (Loukoumades).

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Performances from the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW Dance Group and the Canberra Hellenic Dancers are also set to go ahead, as well as theatrical performances by the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW’s children’s theatre.

The Hellenic Museum of Melbourne will be selling Ancient Greek board games and the NSW Greek community will be doing mask-making and crafts for kids.

Special guests from the Samian Association of Canberra and Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra will also be attending to support the local Greek community of Canberra.

After The Agora closes, Canberra’s Cellar Door Market is set to take over from 5 pm to 7 pm, with wine-tasting of the best imported Greek and locally produced wines from around the region.

Penelope Vaile, contemporary program producer at the National Museum, said she was hoping for a strong turnout.

“One of the beautiful things about living and working in Canberra is that it’s very multicultural and accepting and has a very engaged community,” she said.

“If other community groups wanted to put on their own festivals, I’d be a big supporter. We have previously worked with the Chinese community and the Canberra Islamic community.”

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