The Greek calendar is full of cultural festivals and events, especially during the summer months. One of the most prestigious Greek festivals – running for over 60 years and attracting large audiences from Greece and abroad – is the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.
Taking place annually between June and August, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival features a top line-up of Greek and international theatre, drama, opera, music and dance performances, held at various historic and modern venues across Athens as well as at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese.
The festival is best-known for its ancient venues, namely the amphitheater of Epidaurus and Athens’ 2nd century BC Odeon of Herodes Atticus; both open-air. The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is located within the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios in the Peloponnese, which is only a 30m drive from picturesque Nafplio and a 2h drive from Athens, whereas the Odeon of Herodes Atticus lies beneath the Acropolis Hill dominating the western end of its southern slope.
Since its inception in 1955, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival has staged several performances by internationally acclaimed artists spanning all fields of the performing arts; among them some of the biggest names in music, theatre and dance, including – but to name a few – Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Martha Graham and Rudolf Nureyev.
So, it comes as no surprise that this year’s Athens and Epidaurus Festival also boasts an impressive lineup! The festival’s 2018 edition includes Greek singer Nana Mouskouri, Italian orchestra Il Pomo d’ Oro, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, British violinist Nigel Kennedy, American actor Bill Murray, rock musician Sting and many more.
The Athens leg of the festival opens at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus with Verdi’s “Nabucco” on June 1st and closes with Bizet’s “Carmen” on July 31st, whereas the Epidaurus leg of the festival kicks off on June 29th with Aristophanes’ “The Acharnians” and closes on August 18th with Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus”. In between and for over a month, several classic works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes will be presented every Friday and Saturday at the Epidaurus amphitheater. All performances have English subtitles unless otherwise stated. Lastly, Athens’s Pireos 260 venue – another iconic venue of the festival – will be hosting contemporary Greek and international plays. Its inaugural performance is “The Pursuit of Happiness” by the US-based Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, on June 1st.