Arts & Culture, Things to do

Athens Aglow: Unleashing a Symphony of Festivities for your Christmas City Break

The festive sounds echo through the air, calling us to embrace the magic of Christmas! Enter the world of Athens Aglow – where the oldest city transforms into a vibrant canvas of festive wonder. 

Grab the spirit of Christmas throughout Athens and follow the lights to cultural celebrations for a magical journey with the joyous rhythms of the holiday season. 

Let the festivities unfold, creating cherished memories and filling the air with the unmistakable magic of Christmas!

Christmas Vibes Vol. 1

On December 1st, the Christmas World extravaganza will kick off at the cultural center of SNFCC with a breathtaking event. At 7 pm, you will witness the transformation as 80 beautifully adorned trees and five dazzling light installations illuminate the grounds at Palio Faliro. 

The enchantment continues with the children’s choir and orchestra El Sistema filling the Agora with festive tunes before Michael Mwenso and the Shakes transport us to an Afro-futuristic Christmas Wonderland from Harlem.

Source: Stavros Niarchos Foundation

The festivities keep until early January in the thrill of gliding on the Ice Rink, savor savory cocktails with panoramic views at the Lighthouse, and treat yourself to the traditional delightful flavors of melomakarona and kourabiedes. 

Get yourself in the holiday spirit with festive-themed Cosmos concerts while, for the young, an LED-adorned hula hoop workshop awaits. Keep the dates for the grand finale on January 7th, featuring a live concert dedicated to the one and only Elvis Presley! 

Festive Mood Round 2

As the year draws to a close, the Athens Big Band extends a warm invitation to the city’s residents for a spectacular evening resonating with the festive spirit. 

Live in the soulful nostalgia of jazz’s golden age, evoking the timeless allure of classic performances by legends like Tony Bennett. The Olympia will be filled with captivating melodies, promising an atmospheric musical journey. 

Source: Olympia Municipal Music Theatre “Maria Callas”

Taking center stage is the versatile artistry of singer and creator Philipp Weiss, often hailed as the Frank Sinatra from Munich, and the expressive vocals of Irini Konstantinidis. 

Winter Holidays Storytime

Embark on a captivating literary, theatrical, and musical journey that transcends generations, unfolding within the historic confines of the Katakouzinou House in the heart of Athens. This Christmas, the living room of this exceptional house museum transforms into a haven for short stories penned by eminent Greek writers spanning from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century. 

Amidst the masterpieces of renowned artists like Nikos Chatzikyriakos-Gikas, Yannis Tsarouhis, and Marc Chagall, the historic apartment of the Greek intellectual couple Angelos and Lito Katakouzinou becomes a stage for a festive exploration of the Greek Christmas spirit. Directed by the imaginative Thodoris Tsapakidis, three brilliant actresses—Elpida Topaloglou, Maria Riga, and Maria Batagianni—bring to life the enchanting Christmas tales, dressed in couture by the esteemed Vassilis Barbarigou.  

Source: Angelos & Leto Katakouzenos Foundation Facebook

Accompanied by the piano’s delightful notes from Vera Hatzipapa, the performance weaves together modern, classical, and traditional sounds, creating a tapestry that transports you through time and connects you with the rich traditions of the folk heritage. Customs, magic, emotion, faith, and the contradictory nature of humanity all come alive, promising an exceptional experience that resonates with the essence of Christmas. 

Romantic Goals

Prepare for a musical odyssey aboard the Orient Express Musical Wagon—an iconic journey that once mesmerized audiences from Paris to Istanbul in 2014 and is now making a triumphant return at Treno sto Rouf

Charting the famous train’s legendary route, this experience takes you through time and places, from the West to the East, accompanied by the melodies favored by princes, kings, actors, spies, diplomats, and flamboyant businessmen of the early 20th century. 

Source: Treno sto Rouf

Join the musical sojourn featuring legends like Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, and Nino Rota as well as great Greek composers, weaving a multilingual tapestry of stories amidst the backdrop of the Orient Express.

Athena Routsi’s captivating vocals, complemented by Alcistis Rautopoulou on piano and orchestrations, along with Dimitris Papalamprou on guitar, bass, and vocals, promise to revive timeless melodies and transport you back to the most intriguing period of the 20th century. 

Fairytale era 

Renowned choreographer Konstantinos Rigos, the creative force behind the ELS Ballet, returns to The Nutcracker with a fresh vision, aiming to evolve the choreography he introduced in 2022. Infused with his deep connection to the works of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Rigos interprets The Nutcracker through the eyes of marginalized children constructing their dreams in an adult-dismantled world. 

Source: National Opera

Set in a glass showcase room, Marie-Clara’s dreams unfold amidst contemporary and classical dance traditions, with a plastic miniature Christmas tree and vibrant costumes by Deux Hommes. In this modern rendition, Marie-Clara’s journey blurs the lines between reality and dreams, revealing both the enchanting and haunting facets of the timeless fairy tale. The Nutcracker, a beloved ballet since its premiere in 1892, continues to captivate audiences with Tchaikovsky’s emotive music and theatrical brilliance. Book your place to catch up! 

Kids’ Corner

Little people embrace the festive spirit as Santa Claus is soon-to-be  in town! Make them happy by joining the merry celebration where you can snap a photo with the jolly man himself, hand-deliver your letter, and take some holiday-themed handcrafts & Christmas ornaments crafted with care by Santa’s cheerful elves. 

Source: Hard Rock Cafe Athens

Don’t miss the chance to add a touch of magic with a special face-painting session. To top it all off, treat your precious ones to a customized Messi kids menu and candy delights for the whole family at Hard Rock Cafe Athens! 

Athens Christmassy Checklist

From December 1st to January 7th, the Municipality of Athens is hosting a series of festive events across the city. The iconic Christmas tree in Syntagma Square and surrounding streets are already aglow with holiday spirit.

Over the next few days, Athens will also sparkle with a diverse range of Christmas events organized by the Culture, Sports & Youth Organization of the Municipality of Athens (OPANDA), run in the Kypseli Municipal Market, at Maria Callas Museum, and Athens Book Space in Eleftherias Park.

Highlights include educational programs, live concerts, parties, theatrical performances, book presentations, museum exhibitions, and ten unique “Christmas villages” with surprises for all. Syntagma Square will host 15 live concerts featuring local artists and bands in the central music scene of the holiday celebration.

A mobile party will turn Justice Square (Santarosa) into a Christmas dancefloor. Emporon Stoa will become the ultimate entertainment spot with radio shows. On Christmas Day, Kypseli Municipal Market fills with dynamic beats from favorite selectors and DJs. 

Additionally, children’s theater performances across the city’s neighborhoods feature a delightful array of characters, from puppets and magicians to goblins and the popular “Little Gentlemen – Little Ladies.” These performances draw inspiration from the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Various cultural institutions, including the Art Gallery, Museums, Libraries, Arts Centre, Melina Cultural Centre, and Creative Learning Centres, offer diverse programs tailored for children of all ages, featuring a wide range of engaging activities.

For the younger audience, engaging activities await, seamlessly blending the joy of reading fairy tales and stories from around the globe with explorations in comics, music, and chess through distinctive and imaginative workshops at the Athens Book Space in Eleftherias Park. 

Meanwhile, adult visitors are offered the chance to participate in a creative reading workshop and join the Reading Club of Classical Literature. Additionally, they can attend thought-provoking discussions and analyses of poetry collections and novels led by esteemed writers and journalists. 

Last but not least, in celebration of its inaugural Christmas, the “Maria Callas Museum,” the city’s newest cultural gem dedicated to “La Divina,” welcomes visitors to a special double guided tour with free admission (telephone booking required). 

Explore the world of the legendary diva, opera, and lyric theater through a captivating journey featuring lived experiences, multimedia displays, texts, cutting-edge technologies, and historical documents. Simultaneously, the museum hosts the Athens Quintet “Dimitrios Dounis” for its first concert, presenting the festive program Christmas Visions.” The performance showcases Christmas suites spanning from the Renaissance to the present day, composed by both Greek and international talents.

Mark your calendars and make sure you will have fun these holidays!  

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