(This story is sponsored by Vancouver Greek Summerfest.)
For more than 30 years the Vancouver Greek Summerfest has delighted visitors with food, entertainment, and community spirit. Now the largest festival in East Vancouver, more than 100,000 people from across the Lower Mainland and the rest of the world will attend the 11-day celebration from this Thursday (July 5) to Sunday (July 15).
Taking place near the Burnaby border (only a 10-minute walk from Joyce Skytrain station) visitors can enjoy free-admission for what’s sure to be a family-friendly, good time.
“The amazing part is that we set up a restaurant that will seat 1,000 people and it’s staffed by 60 volunteers at a time. We set up a commercial kitchen, a seating area, a stage with full sound and electrical—in two weeks…And all within a parking lot!” says Kostas Nikolaou, president of the Greek community of East Vancouver.
But for him, the entire festival is centred on bringing people of all cultures and backgrounds together from the attendees, to the volunteers, to the performers—while also raising funds for the various youth, senior, donation, and outreach programs in the area.
“It allows people in the neighbourhood to experience and bond with a community such as ours where we’re trying to give back,” he says.
“The festival may be hosted by the Greek community but it’s really for the community at large. We try to celebrate all the different cultures we have in East Vancouver as best we can,” adds Rania Hatzioannou, promotions coordinator.
“It’s also important to our musical and cultural communities because it allows various local performers to present their art, in addition to having headliners such as legendary Blues musician, Jim Byrnes; as well Gotta B George, the George Michael tribute artist; and numerous other bands including Dalaras Tribute Band,” says Nikolaou.
For those who don’t know, the Wham! singer was of Greek Cypriot descent and his birth name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
For the duration of the festival, visitors can enjoy a different live band every night, in addition to performances by dance troupes from all over the world. Be sure to check out the full schedule of events so that you don’t miss your favourites.
While it is free to attend, all proceeds from food sales are invested back into the community to support the advancement of registered charities.
As Hatzioannou points out, “You could come in and watch the shows and not buy anything if you like!”
Although, we dare you not to try some of the fabulous food available! Of course, there are the usual Greek culinary delights like souvlaki, loukoumades (mini honey doughnuts), and whole barbecued lamb. There will also be side dishes on the menu, such as tyropita—a fluffy filo pastry with a unique cheese filling—and vegan and vegetarian options, too. Delish!
But if all of this has whetted your appetite, visitors can also enter to win a trip for two to Greece, courtesy of Omega Travel, and experience Greek culture in real life! Two-dollar raffle tickets can be purchased throughout the festival and the winner of this grand prize (valued at $2,500) will be drawn on the final day of the event.
Nikolaou finishes with a thank you to all of the volunteers and sponsors who help make the festival possible.
“I think it’s important to highlight that the festival has grown now to the point that it’s attracted fantastic sponsorship from Central City Brewers and GustheGreek.com (an online Mediterranean deli service). Those two companies have taken notice and have heavily sponsored this festival. It’s our hope that others will also see the advantage and help the community, help the music scene, and help us to grow.”
For more information or to view the full schedule of events, visit vancouvergreeksummerfest.com/.More