The Scoop: Paniyiri

With the festival bursting with blue and white flags and people yelling “Yassou” at every turn with big smiles on their faces, that special community vibe was clear. If you could only learn one Greek word, make it Paniyiri!

This article was posted on our original site – My City Life back on 27 May 2014

We’ve all seen picturesque photography of beautiful Greece boasting wonderful architecture and surrounded by glistening blue waters. Those who haven’t been lucky enough to visit in person can experience Greece in all its glory from Brisbane’s greatest culturally infused festival: Paniyiri, held in Musgrave Park during May each year.

38 years ago, a group of passionate Greek-Australians wanted to share their culture with Brisbane through food, dance, film and music. The festival has grown into one of Brisbane’s biggest social events, supported by a 25,000 strong Greek community with Brisbane City Council, The Coffee Club, Channel 7 and the Greek Orthodox Community of St George – the oldest Greek community in Brisbane – on for the Greek ride.

This year, May 24 and 25 saw clear skies and sweltering heat. Musgrave Park was decorated with amusement rides and games, an animal petting arena, pony rides for the kids, and rows of delicious Greek delicacies. Leave all aspirations of a deity-like body at the entry before immersing into a day of indulgence. Be allured by the smell of sizzling souvlakis wafting through the air; devour fried halloumi topped with lemon or fig paste and syrup for the more adventurous.

When you’ve gobbled your way through the savoury stalls, embrace the variety of desserts of offer, from the Baklava, Kourabiethes, Galactoboureko and the infamous Loukoumades or honey puffs. All plates were reasonably priced, where it was best to get a variety of plates to share with family and friends and try a little of everything – except for the honey puffs. Your own plate is a must; you won’t want to share these delicious balls of nectar from the Gods! 

Gather all the ambrosia you can carry to settle on the grassy steps or tables surrounding the stage and dance floor, and enjoy entertainment from the stars of Home and Away and My Kitchen Rules, alongside traditional dancing and music all day long.

The party doesn’t stop in the park. Making your way up to the Greek Club, take a stroll through Edmondstone Street, lined with stalls and activities. Watch plates being shattered; participate in olive stomping or the honey puff eating competition while listening to the sweet sounds of the Byzantine choir filtering through the air from the Orthodox Church.

Inside the Greek Club, escape the sun to watch multiple screenings of cultural films and drink ouzo into the night to catch the fireworks show. The top level of the Greek Club hosted the ultimate culinary experience: the Greek Kitchen Rules, featuring celebrity guests Helena and Vicki from Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules, as well as renowned chefs presenting cooking demonstrations. Competitions were held with great prizes awarded: The Beko Greek Coffee competition saw the winner score a Beko coffee machine and all contestants walking away with some important advice from Litsa Stilianos. “You burna the creama and you will never get married!”

The greatest part about Paniyiri was all funds raised being channelled back into the community via the Greek Orthodox Community of St George. With the festival bursting with blue and white flags and people yelling “Yassou” at every turn with big smiles on their faces, that special community vibe was clear. If you could only learn one Greek word, make it Paniyiri!

Photo Credit: JeiDii

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