Greece’s foremost cultural festival and one of the oldest performing arts festivals in Europe (1955), the Athens & Epidaurus Festival each year presents numerous theatre, dance, and music artists, acclaimed in Greece and worldwide, attracting large audiences from around the world.
The Athens Festival is held at the following venues:
• Odeon of Herodes Atticus: The Festival’s main performance venue, located at the foot of the Acropolis. Built in honour of Herodes’ wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla, this exquisitely beautiful Roman Odeon dates from the 2nd century A.D. and was restored in the 1950s. Over the years, it has welcomed some of the greatest stars in the world, boasting names such as Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, Nana Mouskouri, Liza Minnelli, Maria Callas. Capacity: 5,000 (4,500 tickets up for sale)
• Peireos 260: A former industrial area of several buildings just off Athens’ centre, at Peiraios 260 str. Since 2006, the stages of the former Tsaousoglou factory have been renovated to accommodate Greek and international avant-garde artists, emerging or established, from the fields of theatre and dance.
• Opening to the City: Launched in 2017, this section is more of a concept than an actual venue. Sitespecific performances are presented in various neighbourhoods of Athens and Piraeus, including outdoor spaces and archaeological sites, thus expanding the Festival’s scope and audience and encouraging spectators’ active engagement.
The Epidaurus Festival is held at the following venues:
• Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus: World-famous for its unparalleled acoustics and elegant aesthetics, the Theatre dates from the 4th century B.C. and is located inside the Asclepius Sanctuary, at the heart of the Argolis region. The magnificently built venue is dedicated to ancient Greek drama, hosting tragedies and comedies performed by Greek and international theatre groups alike, with English surtitles for international visitors. Capacity: 14,000 (10,000 tickets up for sale)
• Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus: Located at the port of Ancient Epidaurus, this 4th century B.C. theatre was built in honour of god Dionysus to host religious/worship ceremonies. Nowadays, it mainly hosts performances by emerging Greek and international artists with a more alternative take on ancient Greek drama. All performances come with English surtitles. Capacity: 2,000 (1,000 tickets up for sale)
The Athens & Epidaurus Festival, under its current artistic director, Vangelis Theodoropoulos, aims to highlight the work of new Greek artists and promote it on an international level, while also achieving co-productions with world-renowned theatre and dance artists, as well as co-productions and collaborations with regional theatres and institutions from around Greece. Last but not least, the current artistic direction seeks to expand the Festival’s scope and its audience by opening up to the city and organizing various concurrent educational activities.
In these times of social and cultural crisis, it is imperative that the Athens & Epidaurus Festival contributes to social cultivation, encouraging love for high art. At the same time, the Festival needs to actively support contemporary artists. Highlighting contemporary art and paving the road for audiences that are more critically engaged are both instrumental in enabling the operation of a progressive, cultural institution insofar as they promote a better society: a society of proactive thinkers rather than a society of helpless people…
Photo: Loukas Hapsis
Star trail & light painting in Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus