This year’s Aeschylia Festival has just been launched in the city of Elefsina in western Attica, situated near the historical site of Eleusis – a place of major importance for the Ancient Greeks and also the birthplace of the celebrated Greek tragedian Aeschylus. The festival features numerous events, focusing on theatre, music, cinema and art, and will run until September 23, 2018.

Aeschylia was originally established in 1975, under the auspices of the Municipality of Elefsina, and its Organising Committee is comprised of volunteers who reside in the city and are linked to various forms of art; it was launched, and continues its course, as a reaction to the area being degraded due to acute industrilisation, with the purpose of rebranding the city, drawing from its rich and illustrious past.

In the decades that have followed, the festival has successfully managed to cultivate the city’s artistic scene, making it an interesting destination for admirers of antiquity as well as modern art lovers. Not only that, but the festival’s organisation has played an important role in the city being selected as the European Capital of Culture for the year 2021 (Eleusis 2021 programme).

The festival’s principal venue is the city’s Old Oil Mill (Palaio Elaiourgeio), a former olive oil soap factory, built in 1875 and disused since the 60’s. It is situated adjacent to Elefsina’s main archaeological site, where one of the most important initiation ceremonies of antiquity, the Eleusinian Mysteries, took place, and which also hosts a number of the festival’s events, as does Elefsina’s Cultural Centre.

Aeschylia bandAs evidenced by its name, Aeschylia Festival places an emphasis on theatric productions; it however aims at promoting all forms of art. The programme features a number of Greek tragedies’ productions, some of which have also been presented as part of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2018, such as the National Theatre of Greece’s productions of Sophocles’ Electra and Aristophanes’ Plutus, and the National Theatre of Northern Greece’s production of Euripides’ Orestes.

Music is also an important element, with concerts by famous Greek artists, including Thanos Mikroutsikos, Foivos Delivorias and Kostis Maraveyias . A number of cinema screenings are also scheduled, showcasing some of the recent years’ most important films by Greek directors, such as The Killing of a Sacred Deer by internationally acclaimed Oscar nominee Yorgos Lanthimos, Elina Psykou’s award-winning Son of Sofia and Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ award-winning Suntan.

The festival also features two artistic exhibitions with free entrance: a photographic exhibition by Vangelis Gkinis and an large-scale installation by Maria Papadimitriou, which will be on display until November 2018. Finally, the Half Marathon Race “On the Traces of Iera Odos” will take place on September 9, inspired by and retracing the route of the initiates who used to march from Athens to Eleusis along what was called the “Sacred Way” (Iera Odos) to participate in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

To apply for the race: (in Greek)

Read also via Greek news Agenda: Theatre director Thanos Papakonstantinou on his production of Sophocles’ Electra; Film Director Elina Psykou: Riding on the winds of fantasy through dark times; “Suntan” Director Argyris Papadimitropoulos on Filming Loneliness Among the Naked Tourists“Eleusis, the great mysteries” at the Acropolis Museum