The land beside Saanich Commonwealth Place will again be transformed into a Mediterranean oasis over the next two weekends.
Greek Fest returns to the Greek Community Centre, 4648 Elk Lake Dr., from Aug. 24 to 26 and again Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.
“I think my favourite part is the atmosphere,” said Jim Koutougos, Greek Fest chairman. “An outdoor summer night in Victoria, with everyone celebrating together. Eating some delicious Greek food and enjoying a glass of wine, it’s not something that happens very often. It’s sort of a piece of Greece in Victoria.”
The entertainment will be headlined by the group ELKELAM, making the trek all the way from Athens to bring their mixture of classical and modern performance Greek dancing, featuring several traditional costumes. And while the majority of performers will bring a decidedly Greek flavour, the entertainment will also feature tastes of Flamenco, Indian, Polish, Filipino, Scotch and Irish.
And then there’s the food. From souvlaki to Greek salad, not to mention spanakopita, baklava and loukomades.
“The lamb is ordered,” said Koutougos, who couldn’t estimate how much lamb the expected crowd of 20,000 would go through over two weekends but expects it would probably represent a small flock.
Greek Fest will also provide a focal point for the Greek heritage project that has been undertaken by the local Greek community.
“We have a museum that we’re slowly collecting artifacts and information about the first Greeks in the area,” said Koutougos. “That is growing and it’s open throughout the festival for people to learn a bit more about the Greek heritage in the area.”
Proceeds from this year’s Greek Fest will again go towards the hot lunch program at local elementary schools. And this year some money will also be set aside for the victims of the Greek fires, that claimed nearly 100 lives and damaged more than 1,000 buildings last month.
There is no admission fee to attend Greek Fest, which runs each day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Koutougos said they have seen a big surge in attendance over the past five years.
“It’s still the great atmosphere with all the people, but it’s not crazy lines and not being able to find a place to sit,” he said. “I think we’ve found that sweet spot.”