Mayor unveils Carnival festivities

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni pleasantly surprised everyone this year by asking singer and showman Dionysis Savvopoulos to organize the Carnival (or Apokries) festivities for the period preceding Lent. The popular singer managed, in a short space of time, to arrange for a number of events which will take place in all seven municipal districts of the city of Athens and which will be based on the particularities of each neighborhood. For example, the area of Pangrati has long been identified with the Magemenos Avlos restaurant, composer Manos Hadjidakis’s favorite haunt, while Fokionos Negri Street is connected to the rock’n’roll explosion of the 1960s. The area of Kolonos is seen as the heart of rebetiko music. Savvopoulos stressed the musical particularity of each of Athens’s districts in a recent press conference. «Although Athens has become the center of the Greek entertainment industry, it has so far been unable to celebrate its own self. Yet it is the only city with its own musical geography.» Bakoyianni had previously said that the aim for this year’s carnival was to liven up all of Athens’s neighborhoods, meaning all the places where people meet and entertain themselves on a daily basis. Savvopoulos’s planned events, which fall under the title of «Gaitanaki stin Athina» (Maypole in Athens), include unusual and original shows. Festivities will start on Thursday in the afternoon, when Savvopoulos and singer Domna Samiou will interpret rude and cheeky songs of the Greek folk-singing tradition at the Central Market, accompanied by a band of clarinets and violins and a choir. Other events include a performance of the traditional shadow puppet theater, Karaghiozis, at Syntagma Square on March 7. Savvopoulos and popular Karaghiozis artist Evgenios Spatharis will perform a new comedy act written for the occasion by the two along with Yiannis Kakoulidis. Most events will take place on Saturday, March 8, the highlights being concerts by Loukianos Kilaidonis on Fokionos Negri Street, by Foivos Delivorias at Ambelokipi and by Polly Panou at Kolonos. All three concerts will be projected on the walls of nearby apartment blocks. On Sunday, March 9, the last Sunday of Apokries, events will take place on the newly pedestrianized Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, where a balloon will take children as high up as 50 meters while jugglers and stilt-walkers will be performing their tricks. Also on Sunday, Savvopoulos’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ ancient comedy «The Acharnians» will be performed at the ancient Agora by artists currently doing their military service. The Zappeion Hall, where end-of-Apokries festivities traditionally take place, is currently being used by the Greek EU presidency. The Carnival celebrations will officially end on Monday, March 10 (Kathari Deftera), with Chinese kite artists enacting scenes of battling dragons on Philopappou Hill.