Go Fest: Greek Festival
What you need to know: Greek Festival
Where: Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Short North
When: Friday-Monday, Sept. 4-7
Cost: Adults $5, seniors $4, free for children under 12
Hours: 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 12 p.m.-12 a.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday
Parking: Lots and meters in the Short North and Arena District
Why you should go:
Mention the Greek Festival to a foodie and they'll immediately swoon. And yes, the authentic gyros and baklava will draw you in, but the lively and boisterous Greek music, dance and cultural exhibits will keep you there. Opa!
The backdrop for the four-day festival is the stunning Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and knowledgeable priests and volunteers will lead tours highlighting the church's immaculate mosaics and marvelous domes throughout the weekend. It's a great way to learn about the building's history and Orthodox religion.
Take home your own Mediterranean souvenir from one of the boutique booths, selling authentic clothing, jewelry, collectibles and specialty gifts. Meanwhile, the Greek deli and grocery is the place to find your favorite ethnic foods, wines, spices, cheeses and olives.
A $2.5 million addition to the cathedral was completed recently and will be open to the public during the festival. The extra space will be used to house a larger bookstore and new vendors selling Greek merchandise.
What to eat & drink:
Inside the church, you'll find a cornucopia of homestyle Greek favorites. Try pastitsio (a Greek version of mac 'n' cheese with a middle layer of piquant tomato-cinnamon meat sauce), moussaka (layers of potato, eggplant and meat sauce topped with custard and cheese), and spanakopita or tyropita (phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach or cheese).
Outside, there'll be a complete lamb roast dinner roasting on the spit. Numerous fast food tents will serve up gyros, Greek pizza, shish kebabs, pastries and more. Be sure to save room for the mouthwatering baklava sundaes.
Vendors selling Greek wines and beers - mmm, Mythos - will be scattered throughout the grounds. For a more casual setting, stop by the European-style cafe in the courtyard and sip your favorite Greek coffee.
Ensemble group The Hellenic Singers will present folk and mainland tunes throughout the weekend, while the Greek Festival Dancers hit the streets near the music tent in full regalia. The dancers are happy to offer lessons to those swept up in the bouzouki.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could enjoy the fabulous food of Greek fest all year round? Free cooking demonstrations on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will teach you to create your own smorgasbord at home.
Don't worry if you're a kitchen novice or have trouble following along - the Greek ladies society is selling cookbooks so you can work at your own pace.