Thousands huddled under umbrellas in Lonsdale Street on Saturday night to see popular singer Mihalis Hatzigiannis perform at the Antipodes Festival. Hatzigiannis continued to sing in the rain, refusing to disappoint his Melbourne audience.
Unruly weather didn’t deter Prime Minister Julia Gillard from attending the Festival, as she took the time to walk through Lonsdale Street before taking to the Main Stage with the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, Premier of Victoria Denis Napthine, Leader of the Victorian Opposition Daniel Andrews, Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis, Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle and the Ambassador of Greece to Australia Haris D. Dafaranos. The Prime Minster also spent time with Hatzigiannis backstage, and posed for photos with students of the Greek Community’s Language Schools.
“The presence of Gillard and Abbott reflects the esteem with which the Greek Community of Melbourne is held and its contribution to the fabric of our multicultural nation”, said Bill Papastergiadis, President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria.
Throughout the weekend, dancing groups, musicians and other performers from Melbourne and interstate entertained audiences, sharing all things Greek with those who headed to Lonsdale Street. A highlight was the collective dance performance on Sunday afternoon, when Melbourne’s Greek dancing groups joined in one huge procession from one stage to another, ending in one of the most colourful and collective performances ever seen at the Lonsdale Street Festival.
Although strong winds late on Saturday night threatened day two of the Festival, the event continued with its program on Sunday, attracting record entries for the Zorba ‘til you Drop dancing competition, and closing with a surprise appearance by lyra king Psarandonis on the Main Stage. The dedication and support from remaining stallholders and festival attendees was heartening, testament to the community spirit shared by those who took part in the Festival.
“Despite the weather conditions, the weekend was full of music and movement. The persistent presence of a crowd – even during high winds and rain- highlights the fact that it has become a milestone event in the Greek community and more broadly in Melbourne. Lonsdale Street remains the beacon of Greek-Australian history and culture in Melbourne. The Antipodes Festival and the GOCMV are proud to continue and further these”, said Tammy Iliou, Co-chair of the Antipodes Festival.
The Antipodes Lonsdale Street Festival is a highlight of the Greek Community’s Antipodes Festival. The Lonsdale Street Festival is one huge street party, bringing together local and international performers, children’s activities and an abundance of great food, for a weekend of fun and feasting.