Reviving the festive Olympic spirit

A concert of Greek tunes by Manolis Famellos and a light show designed by Germany’s Gert Hof at Kotzia Square will kick off events of the Athens Municipality’s program of cultural events for the summer this Saturday. According to Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis and Athens Municipality Cultural Department chief Nitsa Loule, the program will spread across several parts of the capital. The program will run until September 18 and feature a plethora of diverse events, happenings and parties. It is an effort to revive the festive spirit which gripped the city last year during the 2004 Olympic Games. More than a stopover «Athens is tired of being a stopover, a transition point,» said Bakoyannis, on how the capital’s culture, tourism and local economy are inextricably linked. «This is not our aim. Our aim is for visitors from around Greece and abroad to come to the capital and enjoy a different Athens, a more beautiful and creative city.» Each venue – be they closed or open spaces, parks or squares – will have its own identity for the cultural program. Kotzia Square will host the majority of dance events, Koumoundourou Square is where the country’s young talent will perform, and Thiseio will see ethnic and world music concerts. Syntagma is where all the street events will begin, and at the entrance to the Thiseio train station children will be invited to take part in a variety of activities. Also for kids, the municipality will set up special playgrounds with games at the Thiseio park. Technopolis, the arts complex at Gazi, will host a variety of exhibitions, concerts and, most notably, the Third International Dance Festival. Other venues that will be used to host cultural events are Zappeio, the pedestrian street of Ermou, Monastiraki and Kolonaki squares and the Attiko Alsos park in Galatsi. Three major concerts The open-air Lycabettus Theater, a summer staple in Athens, will host three major concerts: A tribute to the late rebetika composer Markos Vamvakaris will be held on June 13. There will also be a tribute to demotic or traditional folk music from around Greece, which will take place on June 14. On July 20, the headliner is the famed Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil. More highlights Other highlights include a concert by the State Orchestra of Greek Music at the Roman Forum celebrating 80 years since the birth of Mikis Theodorakis, on July 25. There is also a showcase of school bands performing at Gazi on June 17-19, with special appearances by the bands Raining Pleasure and Active Member. Music will literally be taking to the streets as the Athens Municipality has launched an open-air, double-decker bus to tour the capital with bands, choirs and other ensembles playing on its roof.

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