Riverside festivals in north open to revelers of all ages

For the 10th year running, the prefecture of Evros, in the northeastern tip of Greece, is holding its annual Ardas Festival on the banks of the river with the same name. Since its early days in the mid-1990s, the five-day event had gained a growing following, with thousands of campers converging from all around Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. The festival is mostly aimed at 20- to 30-somethings, with events ranging from concerts, theater plays, water sports and other outdoor activities, extreme sports, informative discussions on a variety of social issues and art exhibitions that include graffiti art and comics. Organizers have also planned a series of one-day excursions to the surrounding areas. A sizable camping site has been set up in a stretch of woods near the river and equipped with refreshment stalls, a playground for tots, an outdoor theater, WC facilities and shower stalls, picnic tables and electrical appliance outlets. Furthermore, during the summer months there is enough water in the river to allow for swimming, fishing and water sports. The main events area hosts a large stage on which highlight performances are held, a municipal refreshment stand, stalls selling a variety of goods, a medical center, radio station and information kiosk. Sports lovers can play beach volleyball or soccer on the banks of the river and the more daring, with motorcycles, can have a spin around the motor cross and enduro route. Concerts this year begin tonight with an appearance by popular Greek vocalist Alkistis Protopsalti, followed tomorrow by the comic hip-hop outfit Imiscoubria sharing the stage with Endelecheia and Micro. On Friday, rocker Vassilis Papaconstantinou and emerging artist Evridiki will kick off the weekend, followed on Saturday by Eleftheria Arvanitaki joined by Melina Aslanidou and Isaiah Matiaba, before the last concert of the festival on Sunday night, featuring Yiannis Kotsiras. Loudias Festival On the other side of northern Greece, in the western prefecture of Pella, the city of Yiannitsa is, for the fourth year, tapping the potential of its small Loudias River. The Loudias Festival is tied in with the efforts of the Loudias Center of Environmental Education that aims to protect and promote the local wetlands and as such runs a series of educational seminars on the flora and fauna of the area, as well as focusing on outdoor activities and sports more generally. Also a high-octane festival, organizers have prepared a busy schedule of treks, kayak canoeing, rafting, hiking, cycling, archery, abseiling and flying fox on a daily basis from 6-8.30 p.m. for the duration of the festival, today to September 19. The opening concert today (9 p.m.) sees local musicians performing songs based on Greek poetry dating from antiquity to the present. Other concerts include the Yiannitsa Municipality Chamber Orchestra in Bach, Piazzolla and Nikos Skalkottas (August 1), and an appearance by the versatile and humorous Heimerini Kolymvytes (September 3). A special for children, a seminar with educational games and activities focusing on the environment, is scheduled for the morning of August 29, while there is even a chess tournament planned for September 12. The Loudias 2004 Festival will close with the Canoe Regatta by the Naval Society of Yiannitsa on September 18 and a rowing race the day after. Information: The Ardas Festival in Evros is hosted by the Kastanies Municipality. The cost of participation is 7 euros per day for campers and 20 euros for a five-day pass. You’ll find more information by logging on to the website, or by calling 25520.85.204/750; For info on the Loudias Festival, contact the Yiannitsa Municipality at 23820.81.392/22.228.