The world-famous Athens and Epidaurus Festival (AEF) returns on June 1 for what promises to be a scintillating summer of theater, music, dance, and visual arts.
Showcasing the very best in performing arts from emerging and established Greek and international artists, this year’s program features a diverse range of events at various venues around Athens and Epidaurus in the Peloponnese, offering both classical performances, including ancient Greek drama, and cutting-edge, avant-garde productions.
First established in 1955, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival is one of the oldest performing arts festivals in Europe. It has since become one of the most prominent cultural festivals in Greece, attracting large audiences from around the world every summer.
Up until 2005, the festival had been held exclusively at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, two hours from the capital. In the summer of 2006, five brand-new theater stages were launched at the Peiraios 260 industrial complex, which has since emerged as an important springboard for contemporary art. Artistic productions and site-specific performances are also presented at other venues in Attica and various locations as part of the festival, including the Little Theater of Ancient Epidaurus, located in the picturesque seaside town of Palea Epidavros, 16km from the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.
The 2023 AEF reopens to audiences on June 1st, with performances by international musicians at the iconic stage of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus beneath the majestic rock of the Acropolis, including Sigur Rós, Nils Frahm and John Cale.
Audiences can also expect performances by the Greek National Opera, including Giacomo Puccini’s, “Madama Butterfly,” and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco.” Greek singer and songwriter Yiannis Aggelakas will also perform from his latest album, and legendary German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk will perform their greatest hits.
Avant-garde stage director Philippe Quesne will close the program at the Odeon on August 4th with “The Garden of Delights,” his latest theatre production inspired by the famous painting by Dutch painter Jérôme Bosch.
Famed for its extraordinary acoustics, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, built in the late 4th century BC, will host eight productions this summer, featuring the works of the Classical Greek tragedians, Euripides and Sophocles, and the comedic playwright Aristophanes. Among the many highlights this year is the production of Euripides’ “Medea,” by the German theater director Frank Castorf, renowned for his use of improvisation and highly imaginative theatrical language.
Peiraios 260 in downtown Athens, 1km from the Kallithea Metro Station, provides the perfect space for the festival’s avant-garde and alternative productions. A typical example of 1970s industrial architecture, the venue is rapidly turning into one of the city’s major cultural centers. This year’s program features a rich medley of performances, including Alexander Zeldin’s “The Confessions,” and Natasha Triantafylli’s thought-provoking “Marshall Plan – A Path of Perspectives,” as well as the AEF Urban Dance Contest – Hip Hop Battle & All Styles Battle.
For more information on this year’s program, venues, artists, and tickets, please visit the official AEF 2023 website.
See the lineup of shows and performances at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus below; to download the full program click here.