The Yiasou Greek Festival celebrates its 42nd annual event on Sept. 5, 6, 7, and 8. One of Charlotte’s most highly anticipated cultural events, it is hosted by the parishioners of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral and takes place on the church grounds at 600 East Blvd. The family friendly weekend features authentic Greek cuisine, homemade pastries, live traditional music and dancing as well as shopping and cultural exhibits.
Honored as the 2018 “Best Neighborhood Festival” in Elevate Lifestyle’s Best of the City list and highlighted as one of Charlotte Agenda’s “Top 5 Fall Events,” the Yiasou Greek Festival is a Charlotte tradition. John Tsumas, 2019 Yiasou Festival Co-Chair remarks, “Our community is inspired each year to share our vibrant culture with the city we have grown alongside. We are so proud to be part of the Charlotte cultural fabric.”
Festival visitors can sample a variety of delicious Greek specialties, from gyros and spanakopita to roasted lamb and pastichio. Dessert is not to be missed; patrons can try homemade baklava and loukoumades, the popular honey-drizzled doughnuts, or visit the kafeneio tent for Greek coffee and frappe. A drive-thru menu is accessible via Winthrop Avenue, and kid friendly menu options are available. In addition to the popular live cooking demos, this year’s event will feature a live demonstration with Atlanta’s notable Chef Pano Karatossis (of Kyma fame).
Live entertainment is the centerpiece of the festival atmosphere and takes place on one indoor and two outdoor stages. Dance performances are scheduled throughout the weekend, presented by members of Holy Trinity’s Folk Dance Program, the largest such program in the U.S. Two live bands will be on site, strolling the grounds and accompanying folk dance performances. Members of Holy Trinity’s award winning adult dance troupe will lead folk dance classes on the main stages.
In addition to browsing a wide variety of specialty vendors selling everything from Greek art to jewelry and imported groceries, festival patrons can also enjoy guided Greek wine tasting or mingle with Spartan warriors in full armor. Members of the reenactment group “The Warriors of Greece” will be patrolling the festival grounds and are happy to pose for a souvenir photo. Chris Pangalos of The Warriors of Greece will offer entertaining talks on the military tradition of ancient Greece. Younger patrons will enjoy the popular Children’s Playland with rides, face painting and concessions.
Visitors who prefer to get away from the outdoor festival buzz can step into the Cathedral for a choir performance (3, 3:30 and 4 Saturday only) or for a guided tour of its stunning Byzantine iconography and architecture (every hour on the hour, except during the Saturday choir performances). Built in 1954, the Cathedral is the vibrant center of the Holy Trinity community’s religious life. At 1 p.m. on Sunday, join Holy Trinity’s unique Byzantine Choir for its first-ever Yiasou Festival performance.
Festival admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Visitors who ride the Lynx or CATS bus to the festival will receive free admission when they show their same-day stamped ticket.
For more information and a full list of festival attractions, schedules and menus, visit www.yiasoufestival.org.