Festivals, festivities and good times in Thessaloniki. Here we are again talking about my favorite city. This time we focus on the festivals that take place in Thessaloniki. The cultural identity of the city is an important part of it’s development and so it is great to see the authorities embrace annual festivals such as the ones below. There are so many different types of festivals that you will surely find a favourite according to your interests and preferences. So, let us introduce you to the main festivals of Thessaloniki you have to attend.
Thessaloniki Film Festival
This is the most important film festival in eastern Europe. With a long history that dates back to the 1960s, the TIFF has played a major role in the development of cinematography in Greece and worldwide. For young Greek creators, it is a great honor to be featured in Thessaloniki Film Festival and compete for one of the awards.
TIFF takes place around the end of October and the first week of November. The screening locations for the festival are, mainly, Olympion Theater and the warehouses in the port of Thessaloniki. But this film festival is not only about movies. During the TIFF many events are held such as art exhibitions, seminars, and after-screening parties.
Every year the number of people that visit the festival grows, with people from all around Greece and Europe attending the festival and participating in the many events held.
If you are a great cinema-lover and want to know more about TIFF, click here!
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This cultural institution is the most important event for Thessaloniki and is the second biggest festival in Greece. The festival took its name from Saint Demetrius, who is the saint patron of the city. Also, it takes place every year during October, as the 26th of October is the memorial of Saint Demetrius
Every year the city’s authorities promise to show all the cultural aspects of the city through the festival’s events. Those consist of theater plays, music concerts, dance performances, and art exhibitions. All these events have one particular purpose, to show the audience the cultural heritage of the city, but also to connect it with the contemporary world, giving an extrovert element to the organization.
Since 1966, when the first Dimitria Festival was held, the festival is a much anticipated and loved event. With so many happenings in so many spots of the city, so you can explore and discover as many treasures of Thessaloniki as possible.
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Pic-Nic Urban Festival
The Pic-Nic Urban Festival is one of the youngest children of Thessaloniki’s festival list. It was in 2012 when the municipality and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki decided to establish a festival as a celebration for the end of the summer. That it was how the Pic Nic Urban festival was born.
During the last weekend of August, the ancient Agora Forum in Thessaloniki opens its doors to residents and visitors for a picnic. The festival consists of music concerts and screenings of awarded short films in the open-air cinema. You can lay on your checkered tablecloth and enjoy a proper urban picnic.
The purpose of this festival is the entertainment of the audience and the promotion of one of the most important historical places in the city, the Roman Forum of Thessaloniki. The participants can get close to the city’s history in a “twisted” way and learn more about the importance of it. The festival is especially popular among young people and families.
The biggest achievement of this festival is that it has been awarded the EFFE label of the European Festival Association. This award is given to European festivals that aim to promote the arts, local communities’ character, and European ideals. ]
- In addition, the festival plans to expand to other Greek cities, so that more and more have the opportunity to attend.
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Reworks International Music Festival
This festival is all about youth and music! The purpose of this festival is the promotion of music and young artists to Thessaloniki’s audience. New trends and emerging talents in the music stage are the results of this famous festival.
Every September, music stages are set up to entertain the audience, which gets bigger and bigger every time, as the festival’s reputation has crossed the Greek borders. The great music and excellent programming of Reworks have made the online independent music magazine Resident Advisor list it among the best festivals in the world.
The artists that perform come from all around Europe, giving an international element to the festival. If you are a fan of electronic music, mark the dates for the next Reworks Music Festival, pack your bags and come to Thessaloniki.
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International Festival of Folk Dances & Music
If you are a fan of tradition and want to get a feel of the culture of each country you visit, this is the festival for you! The location of this festival is the small town of Gefira, just a few kilometers away from Thessaloniki.
By choosing this festival, you will have the chance to discover the traditional music and folklore dances of Greece, with a special emphasis on Northern Greece. In addition, there are participants from other neighborhing countries that showcase their own folklore dance and music.
- This is probably the most important festival to get to know the Greek culture and mentality. Don’t miss it!
Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival
Thessaloniki’s International Documentary Festival is a branch of the International Film Festival. The aim of the festival is to present documentaries from all around the world that tend to inform and motivate the audience over crucial social issues. The first time the Documentary Festival aired in Thessaloniki was in 1999. Since then, it has earned a place among the best documentary festivals in Europe.
A special committee awards the artists with the best work done. This is a great honor for the creators and is considered a great achievement for their careers. From their side, the audience chooses this festival to be informed about important issues of the world, such as poverty, human rights, and environmental issues. The Documentary Festival takes place in the warehouses of the port of Thessaloniki at the beginning of March, every year.
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Thessaloniki Animation Festival
In 2015, an interesting festival was organized and held in the city: the Thessaloniki Animation Festival. Since then, every year visitors get the chance to watch animated films from around the world free of entrance. The best participant submissions are awarded based on the quality of their work.
The place of the screenings is the “Makedonikon” theater, which is located in the heart of the city center. But the program of the festival does not contain only the screening of the films. The organizing team arranges for master-classes and workshops, in order for the audience to be informed about the latest news in the fields of animation and cinematography, as well. Of course, the after-parties are a must if you want to meet, discuss and have a good time.
- The festival takes place in the middle of October. During the weekend, there are a lot of kid-friendly animation films that children can attend.
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Street Mode Festival
In 2009, in order to celebrate the end of the summer season, the first Street Mode Festival was organized in Thessaloniki. Since then, it has attracted a loyal group of fans, with more than 20,000 people now attending every year, making it the largest festival in Northern Greece.
The premises of the port of Thessaloniki are the ideal spot for the festival’s location, as it perfectly adapts to the street-style culture. In the past decade, young Greeks have developed and taken street art into another level. This includes music, dance, graffiti and street sports. The establishment of this love affair is celebrated during the Street Mode Festival.
In the space of 3 days, visitors will be able to attend concerts, DJ sets, street art and street dance competitions, such as graffiti, breakdance, and action sports.
Thessaloniki International Book Fair
This is for all the bookworms out there! In May, the seafront of Thessaloniki is filled with thousands of books for the International Book Fair. This is the only international book fair held in Greece and is considered an annual meeting point of the international publishing field.
The Thessaloniki International Book Fair stands for Thematic Tributes / Literary Meetings / New Writers’ Festival / Translation Festival / Discussions, Workshops, Talks / Round Tables / Professional Meetings / Literary Café / Screenings / Visual Arts and Theatrical Events / Children’s Corner / Teenagers’ Forum / Educators’ Corner.
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The fair is the ideal place for the cultural dialogues between Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Due to this, this festival is considered one of the most important cultural institutions in Greece.
Street Food Festival
An April weekend in Thessaloniki is the paradise of flavors or as it is officially named Thessaloniki Street Food Festival. The creative team of the festival considered Thessaloniki the ideal place for hosting this event, due to its history and the careful attention Thessalonians pay to what they eat. The City Hall holds a huge market, where you can try products and foods from around the world.
But it is not only food! In the evening, DJ sets offer entertainment to the plethora of visitors. Also, there are many workshops for little ones where you can learn and enjoy learning more about different flavours from around the world.
- When you visit a country you have to know your options when it comes to entertainment. As you see, Thessaloniki offers so many festivals that you will definitely find the best for you! We have mentioned some of them, but there are many more to discover! Let us know in the comments below which Thessaloniki festival is the best for you!