A freelance writer and father of two, I am interested in almost anything the ever-changing city of Brisbane has to offer. When I am not seeking the kid-friendly and affordable, I am tracking the home-grown and the unique... Come and discover with me!
My first Greek wedding reception was a night-long affair during which I joined some hundred and fifty ecstatic guests in demolishing a sumptuous five-course banquet, hundreds of bottles of wine, and enough plates to leave a shin-deep pile of pulverised crockery on the dance floor. By the time I staggered back to my hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, I had learned some important things about Greek culture. I now knew that moussaka is an eggplant-based food dish and not an exotic styling method for facial hair; that, however much it may sound like a woodwind instrument, haloumi is in fact a type of cheese; and that if you still insist on dancing after the twelfth glass of retsina, for Heaven's sake begin with the Syrto, not the Sousta. Most important of all, I learned that nobody parties like the Greeks.
No half-measures in Hellenic hedonism
[ADVERT]Take this same festive spirit and add amusement rides, Hellenic dance troupes, Byzantine choirs, grape-stomping extravaganzas, olive-eating competitions, Greek cooking classes, fire-works and twenty hours of live entertainment featuring everything from celebrity comedians to Greek-style Dancing With The Stars to world-record Zorba attempts. Multiply the whole experience by two days and about fifty thousand visitors and you will perhaps have some idea of the scope of the party scheduled to arrive at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, on the weekend of May 19th and 20th.
The annual Paniyiri Greek Festival, now in its 36th year, is the longest-running cultural festival in Queensland and the largest of its kind in Australia, and has grown to rival and even exceed such time-honoured Brisbane events as The Ekka and State of Origin matches in terms of both attendance and atmosphere.
Brisbane's Biggest Single Annual Party (image courtesy of Leah Carri)
In a link to Greek traditions still very much alive in the Hellenic homelands, in which paniyiri celebrations centre around feast-days of the Greek Orthodox Church, Paniyiri in Brisbane is an initiative of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George. The Community of St George, the oldest Greek organisation in Brisbane, directs funds from Paniyiri towards the benefit of both the ethnic Greek and broader Brisbane communities in the form of such services as aged care, welfare, childcare, the Greek Ethnic School, and the maintenance of the historic church building itself.
Greek Orthodox Community of St George - nearly a century of good works
As a happy result of its size and charitable origins, Paniyiri is also one of the more affordable parties Brisneylanders are likely to attend this year, with admission fees of only $10 for over-thirteens, $2 for pensioners, and no charge at all for children, leaving room in most budgets for the festival's culinary, cultural and sensory delights. In previous years, eftpos and ATM facilities have been extremely limited both on and near the site, making it advisable to come prepared with cash.
A readily-accessible location with few steep slopes or stairs, Musgrave Park is also within walking and wheeling distance of ferry stops at Southbank Parklands, train stations (South Brisbane and Southbank) and the Cultural Centre Busway Station, from which a range of bus routes connect to every corner of Brisbane. Parking in the area is likely to be at a premium over this weekend, however if you have no alternative but to bring the car, be aware that several of the streets around Musgrave Park will be closed for the weekend, and arrive as early as possible to find metered on-street parking throughout the South Brisbane area, or a secure space in the gated car-parks at either Southbank Parklands or the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Paniyiri - Brisbane's best way to sore legs (image courtesy of Leah Carri)
The layout of Paniyiri evolves with each passing year; however, as it is almost certain that seating will once again be limited, those who wish to install themselves for an extended period may find portable chairs or picnic rugs to be worth the extra weight and hassle, particularly for seniors and children. In addition, events such as cooking classes, choir concerts and film screenings at the nearby Greek Club and Church of St George can offer some respite to aching legs as well as added depth to the weekend's cultural immersion.
For those who would rather exchange time than money for the chance to be a part of this unique cultural event, or who simply want to get closer to the action, Paniyiri co-ordinators are currently seeking volunteers in a variety of roles about which you can learn more by contacting Nadia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 3356 6810. Also sought are high-quality fashion and jewellery market stalls, and marketeers wishing to present their wares before the tens of thousands who will pass through Paniyiri over two days can seize this opportunity by contacting Llaeka at email@example.com or 3356 6810.
Those wishing to take a closer look at the source of some of the excellent images reproduced in this article will not regret a visit toleahshome.com – many thanks to Leah Carri for permission to post these via Weekend Notes.
would you have any idea where and when the greek community in Brisb. are holding their cooking classes for greek food. I was told by someonewho works at Samio's the greek community have cooking classes at a church.
Thanks so much. Elsa