Foreign visitors to Athens who arrive in August to see the sights are surprised to find kiosks closed not just in the center, but also further out. What used to be places full of light, movement, people, information, mini-markets open round the clock, are now locked and deserted, as are many tavernas and shops. Only stores selling souvenirs can be counted on, as well as cafes near the city’s sights. Fortunately the outdoor cinemas stay open, and are popular with tourists as they show mostly American movies. The Herod Atticus Theater is at its best. Now that the «meltemi» winds of August have begun and the marble seats no longer exude heat, it is a joy to listen to music, watch opera or ballet, performances such as Verdi’s «Macbeth» by the Bolshoi State Theater (on August 28 and 29) and Sweden’s Culberg Ballet, on August 31. Regular visitors to the Herod Atticus, particularly diplomats, charmed by the magical setting under the Acropolis, will not miss the official 50th anniversary celebration of the Athens Festival this Wednesday, August 24, with the Athens State Orchestra in the same program that launched the first festival 50 years ago: Handel’s «Largo,» the «Byzantine Sacrifice» by Petros Petridis, Gluck, Mozart, arias by Haydn and Sibelius. The anniversary performance is held under the aegis of the City of Athens. The official guest will be Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and former prime minister Georgios Rallis, at whose initiative the first festival was held when he was minister to the prime minister in the Papagos government. In 1955, the conductor was Theodoros Vavayiannis (1905-1988), this year it will be Vyron Fidetzis, with soloist Antigone Papoulka and narrator Nikitas Tsakiroglou. An exceptional evening, taking us 50 years back in time. We look forward to the next 50 years!