Thessaloniki’s 40th Demetria Festival, which kicked off last week with Aristophanes’ comedy «The Acharnians» by the Greek National Theater, bears the signature of great names. Included in the festival’s lineup are violinist Vanessa Mae, French actress Fanny Ardant, filmmaker Pandelis Voulgaris, pianist Dimitris Sgouros, jazz musician Chick Corea, composer Mimis Plessas, singer Manolis Mitsias, composer Thanos Mikroutsikos, artist Alekos Fassianos and composer Stamatis Kraounakis. The official opening will take place on September 14 with a concert by the Thessaloniki Municipality Symphony Orchestra and pianist Dimitris Sgouros at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. This year’s Demetria, which includes about 150 events, has a budget of 1,139,000 euros, out of which 11,000 will be given to the Union of European Festivals and 33,000 to the Vanessa Mae concert. To commemorate the festival’s 40th anniversary, 15 stamps depicting monuments from Thessaloniki and posters of past Demetria Festivals were issued. «The Demetria Festival is one of the major European festivals. The festival’s 40th anniversary, combined with the 1,700 years since the martyrdom of Saint Demetrius, the city’s patron saint, add particular color to this year’s events,» said Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos. The festival, which will run to December 9, does not have one particular theme. The different events only have one goal: to cater to all tastes. The festival will include the International Month of Dance and the Ethno-Jazz Festival. September highlights include the Vanessa Mae, Stamatis Kraounakis and Thanos Mikroutsikos concerts; Voulgaris’s audiovisual spectacle «Ark» with singer Manolis Mitsias; tributes to rebetika masters Grigoris Bithikotsis and Stelios Vamvakaris; and the theater performances of Aristophanes’ «Peace» and Aeschylus’ «Prometheus Bound.» In October, the National Theater of Northern Greece will stage Chekhov’s «Ivanov» and the Choir of the Jewish Community will interpret Judeo-Spanish songs from pre-war Thessaloniki. A large exhibition of paintings and architecture, «Alekos Fassianos – Tassos Papaioannou,» jointly organized by the National Gallery and the National Technical University of Athens, and an exhibition-tribute to actor Alexis Minotis will go on display. A tribute concert to recently deceased singer Vicky Moscholiou will also take place. November will feature a concert by veteran jazzman Chick Corea, Puccini’s opera «Turandot» at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, a performance of Sergi Belbel’s play «After the Rain» by the Experimental Art company, dance by Moscow’s Berioska Dance Company, ethnic music by Omar Farouk Tekbilek and more. The music and theater performance «Fanny Ardant,» where the acclaimed French actress will perform theater monologues and poetry excerpts at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, headlines events in December.