Hotel Review: The Excelsior Hotel in Thessaloniki

Nestled in the heart of the city centre, where history whispers from every corner, The Excelsior Hotel in Thessaloniki stands tall as a beacon of unparalleled charm and hospitality.

As this vibrant city beckons travellers from far and wide, this timeless hotel is a haven where sophistication meets warmth, and tradition intertwines seamlessly with modern luxury.

It’s the ideal place for couples and those who want to explore the heart of town whilst being a breath away from Thessaloniki’s seafront.

The lowdown

Located on the corner of Komninon Street and Mitropoleos Avenue, just a short walk away from Aristotelous Square and the famous seafront – it’s perfectly positioned for anyone eager to explore the rich tapestry of Thessaloniki’s cultural heritage. With monuments and The White Tower just a stone’s throw away, guests are invited to immerse themselves in the city’s storied past while enjoying the modern-day conveniences of luxurious accommodations.


From the moment you step foot into this historic establishment, you are enveloped in an atmosphere of refined elegance and genuine hospitality. The Excelsior Hotel prides itself on its unique ability to blend timeless traditions of the past with the contemporary comforts of today, offering guests a nostalgic and indulgent experience. 


The meticulously appointed rooms exude comfort and style. Although the hotel was built in 1924, it underwent a complete renovation in 2009 and now features 36 luxurious rooms and suites with art deco balconies, neoclassical high windows and elegant aesthetics that make your time here unforgettable. 

We stayed in a Deluxe Double room that comes fully equipped with a king-size bed (boasting comfort), a top-to-bottom marble bathroom filled with branded toiletries, an espresso coffee machine and beautiful artwork. The room was spacious, light and airy, and our private balcony was the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee. 

Food + Drinks

In the Charlie D. Brasserie on the mezzanine floor, culinary delights await guests every morning. The menu features handpicked recipes and fresh ingredients, prepared with love by a talented team of chefs – making breakfast a journey for the senses.

From savoury dishes that tantalize the taste buds to visually stunning creations that are worthy of your Instagram feed, everything from eggs royale to vegan muffins to the lush pancakes is a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

Extras touches

The reception and concierge services are impeccable. It’s the people that make a place and most certainly the staff at The Excelsior go out of their way to ensure each guest feels welcome. Another standout is the beautifully designed lounge area- perfect space to sit back, relax, flick through a magazine, and just unwind after a day of sightseeing.

What’s close-by

The top city attractions are within walking distance. From here you can embark on a daily tour of the city and explore Aristotelous Square (that is 200m away), Laladika and the Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki, Democracy Square, Rotunda and the Arch of Galerius. The White Tower and OTE Tower are also roughly 1 km away each.

Highlight of stay

The Excelsior Hotel is not just a place to stay – it’s an experience to savour. Whether you’re visiting Thessaloniki for business or pleasure, this hotel offers everything you need in terms of comfort, style and location. 

Perfect for

Couples, explorers, business trips and family visits.

Accommodation type: Boutique hotel 

Location: 10 Komninon & 23 Mitropoleos Av, Thessaloniki

Temperatures Set to Rise Across Greece this Weekend 

Spring has sprung and the beautiful summer weather is on its way, with temperatures set to exceed 30 degrees Celsius in some parts of Greece this weekend. 

For those currently travelling around the country and hoping to get a swim, the warmer weather is expected in the coming days with the temperature predicted to gradually exceed 30 degrees Celsius in some areas of the country on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The weather service of the National Observatory of Athens forecasts up to 28-29 degrees Celsius in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras and up to 31°-32° C in Larissa, central Greece. 

The temperature will rise slightly in the north and will range from 10 to 28 degrees, in the west from 11 to 26 to 27 degrees, in the eastern mainland from 12 to 28 degrees and on the Aegean islands from 14 to 25 degrees Celsius; Rethymno and Chania in Crete are also expected to have warmer days, reaching the mid-20’s over the next few days.

Train Trip From Athens to Thessaloniki in Less Than 4 Hours, Begins May 15

The highly anticipated new train trip allowing passengers to commute between Athens and Thessaloniki in less than 4 hours, is finally ready to embark on its first journey next Sunday, May 15, 2022.  

According to railway company TrainOSE, the new state-of-the-art trains arriving from Italy will cut the journey time from around six hours to less than four hours; providing passengers with a comfortable and faster trip between Greece’s two largest cities. 

The new ETR470 trains which have a seating capacity of 600 people, feature nine wagons, including a restaurant/bar and three first-class wagons. 

TrainOSE revealed on Friday that the ETR470 trains will run twice a day in each direction:

– Leaving Athens at 07:22, it will stop at Larissa at 09:58, and arrive in Thessaloniki at 11:20. The next one, in the afternoon, will leave Athens at 17:22, stop at Larissa at 20:00, and arrive in Thessaloniki at 21:21.

– Leaving Thessaloniki, ETR470 will leave the station at 07:08, stop at Larissa at 08:09, and arrive in Athens at 11:03. The next one, in the afternoon, will leave Thessaloniki at 17:08, stop at Larissa at 18:08 and arrive in Athens at 21:04.

To promote the event, TrainOSE is currently offering a 20% discount for tickets booked in the next 20 days, with travel time between May 15 and June 3.

Elegant New Hotel Opening in Thessaloniki this Summer 

Monasty Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection is a brand new 5-star hotel set to open in the centre of Thessaloniki in summer 2022. Combining simplicity with style, Monasty is designed to capture the authentic character of Greece’s extraordinary co-capital. 

Located next to Aristotelous square, Monasty Hotel is inspired by the richness of Thessaloniki’s remarkable past- with sophisticated elements of its Byzantine heritage highlighted throughout the hotel’s elegant spaces. 

With 100 rooms boasting modern design and comforts, Monasty is ideal for business travellers, weekend guests, and city visitors who are ready to explore the heart of Thessaloniki and its historic surroundings. Rooms and suites feature contemporary facilities and superb city views. The arched doorways, traditional monastic elements and an eclectic range of art installations created by local artisans add warmth and unique character to each space. 

Culinary experiences will be offered by the hotel’s all-day lounge and the rooftop bar, which will serve Mediterranean fusion cuisine and exquisite cocktails. The stylish and relaxed all-day bar adds a touch of class and is set to become a hot spot for business meetings and shopping breaks, offering the latest mixology trends, artisan coffee, as well as a fine selection of wines and liqueurs. 

All of Monasty’s facilities are designed to provide an exceptional and wide range of choices for guests -with an emphasis on business meetings and social events through its private dining options, lounges, meeting and conference rooms. The state-of-the-art, fully-equipped fitness centre will also allow guests to experience wellness with exceptional comfort.

“We are more than proud that they entrusted us with the management of the first Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel in the city of Thessaloniki, Monasty. Its characteristic design combined with the high standard level of services is sure to make it a reference point in the hotel map of the city,” stated Mr Panos Konstantinidis, CEO of Greece’s leading hotel management company SWOT Hospitality.

Thessaloniki’s Cool New Spanish Inspired Bar-Restaurant

Set down on Papadopoulou Street, in a single-story building that resembles a warm and inviting Spanish home, this cool and casual all-day bar and restaurant in Thessaloniki has become a favourite local hangout.

Having quietly opened its doors in the middle of last year (by the talented team from Cin Cin) Mariél has now become a popular spot in the city thanks to its amazing brunch menu, fine meats, signature cocktails, and its overall enticing Mediterranean vibe that’s best experienced in the amazing courtyard out the back.

The high-quality meat cuts feature a combination of juicy and delicious options that are cooked to satisfy each taste, and all the dishes on the menu are designed to be enjoyed with the impressive list of wines that come from Greece, Spain, Italy and other parts of the world.

If you happen to be in Thessaloniki on a Thursday evening, we highly recommend you head here for Tapas Thursdays, where you can enjoy the creative chef’s suggestions, and taste the mini bites that pair perfectly with the Spanish wines. We love the tacos with chili con Carne and the bruschetta with chorizo, sour cream and fig paste!

The weekend brunch menu is also delightful. It features Fried Eggs on porcini and guanciale cream, accompanied by fresh salad and toasted bread, as well as Tortita Legendaria with mascarpone, fresh fruit and raspberry sauce.

For lunch, you can try the light pasta dishes, which include the Fresh Stringoloni in goat trunk sauce and fresh truffle carpaccio, or the Egg Fusilli with juicy cherry tomatoes, Feta and salami.

Or, if it’s just a drink (or 2, or 3) that you’re after, behind Mariél’s bar you will find the creative and talented mixologists serving unique cocktails such as the Greek Ramos with vanilla-scented tones and fresh lemon juice, gin and Mastiha, and the Nectar, a vodka-based cocktail enriched with lime aromas. 

A: Papadopoulou 16, Panorama

History of Greece’s Colourful Tapestry on Display in Thessaloniki

A colourful exhibition shining a light on the rich history of Greece’s famous tapestry is currently on display at Thessaloniki’s MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art.  

Titled “Weavings anew” the presentation is a new approach to the successful 2019 exhibition “Weavings,” which took place at the Benaki Museum in Athens. Curated by Irini Orati and Constantinos Papachristou, it affirmed the revival of research interest in Greek tapestry and its short, but rich history in recent years.

Insights Greece - History of Greece’s Colourful Tapestry on Display in Thessaloniki
Hydra 1972 by Nikos Nikoloaou

Art historian and curator of the “Weavings Anew” exhibition Areti Leopoulou says, Every artist and artwork presented in the exhibition – weavings, paintings, engravings, sculptures – aims at pointing out the dynamic of the creative process, which is not isolated from the wider milieu and the people inhabiting it: these works render visible a peculiar continuation and achievement of the goals set by the 1930s generation up until the 1970s.”

“The cordial coexistence -if not identification- of abstraction with the capabilities and limitations of weaving techniques are noticeable; the autonomy, but also the interaction of artistic mediums is revealed; the dialogue between the artist and the artisan facilitated by weaving is revealed; above all, the potential of the artwork to be liberated from the palimpsest stereotype and become part of everyday life as a decorative and practical object is firmly established. As is the notion that these works, both in their artistic and more folkish iterations, are an integral part not only of our folkloric but also of our artistic tradition,” added Leopoulou.

Famous artworks on display include those of George Vakalo, Spyros Vasiliou, Opi Zouni, Niki Kanagini, Michalis Katzourakis, Vaso Katraki, Kostas Koulentianos, Yiannis Moralis, Alex Mylona, Dimitris Mytaras, Nikos Nikolaou, Sotiris Sorogas, Jannis Spyropoulos, Yannis Tsarouchis, Ioannis Faitakis, Nikos Chatzikyriakos-Gikas and Loch Textiles.

Collectors and institutions that lent works for this exhibition include Alpha Bank, Benaki Museum/Ghika Gallery, National Center of Social Solidarity (EKKA), Vorres Museum, The Jannis and Zoe Spyropoulos Foundation, the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation, the Teloglion Foundation of Arts A.U.Th., Julia Dimakopoulou, Maria Vasiliou, Marianna Katraki, the Kanagini family, Michalis Katzourakis, Alexandros Zounis and MOMus-Museum Alex Mylona.

Weavings anew 

A: Egnatia 154, Thessaloniki

Dates: Until March 27, 2022

Opening hours:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10 am  to 6 pm
Thursday: 12 pm to 8 pm
Monday: Closed

Thessaloniki’s International Contemporary Art & Book Fair Kicks Off

Thessaloniki is celebrating all things arts and culture this weekend with the 5th Art Thessaloniki International Contemporary Art Fair and the 18th Thessaloniki Book Fair both taking place at Thessaloniki’s International Exhibition & Congress Centre from Thursday 25th to Sunday the 28th of November, 2021.  

Regarded as one of the most important art exhibitions in Southeast Europe, the annual Thessaloniki art fair attracts hundreds of artists and thousands of international visitors each year.

This year, due to the pandemic it will be a smaller exhibition, however, 29 galleries from seven countries, close to 20 parallel projects, three museum exhibitions, and almost 800 artists’ works are displayed at the exhibition.

Organised by the National Agency for The Organisation of Exhibitions, Congresses and Cultural Events (HELEXPO S.A.) together with Pantelis Tsatsis, Artistic Director, this year the exhibition is considered a major reflection of Thessaloniki’s rich cultural scene. 

Insights Greece - Thessaloniki’s International Contemporary Art & Book Fair Kicks Off
Thessaloniki’s international art fair

 “This is an art fair that invests in the strategically important geographic location of Thessaloniki, its multicultural identity, its rich and long history. Thessaloniki’s history spans some 2,300 years. Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece and renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general,” announced the event organisers.

Award-winning composer Lina Tonia has premiered her new composition for the first time yesterday, while the honoured artist for 2021 will be Professor Yiannis Fokas. An honorary distinction will also be given to artists Dimitris Alithinos and George Lazogas for their work and their contribution to contemporary Greek art.

In addition to the participation of 30 galleries from Greece and abroad and 20 parallel projects, the museum exhibition will be presented with works by internationally renowned artist Victor Vasarely in collaboration with the Museum of Drawing Skopje.

Honouring the 200 Year Anniversary of Greek Independence, the Ethnographic Center of George Meliki will present the original installation, K.P. Kavafi.  A special tribute to the Greek revolution 1821-2021, with the paint and the pen of Philhellene Painters and Travelers, will also be displayed. Dedicated to the 200 years of the Greek revolution (1821-2021), about 50 collectible lithographs from the first lithographic prints of the Philhellene painters Karl Krazeisen, Adam Friedel, Peter Von Hess, and European newspapers during the period 1821-1828 will be on exhibit.

Thessaloniki Book Fair (TBF)

Regarded as an important event for the book industry, this event attracts publishers, authors, translators, literary agents, booksellers, librarians, academics and institutions for books and literature from Greece, the Balkans, Western Europe, the Southeastern Mediterranean and from all over the world.

Insights Greece - Thessaloniki’s International Contemporary Art & Book Fair Kicks Off
Thessaloniki’s book fair

This year, TBF’s central theme is ‘The Ongoing Revolutions of Books’, aiming to combine the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution with all the changes that took place during the pandemic regarding people’s perception of books and literary events.”.

German-language literature will be this year’s Guest of Honour with authors invited from German-speaking countries as well as book professionals.

Additionally, the 18th TBF will focus on the following themes:

New Writers Festival
Children’s and Teenagers’ Corner
New Book Technologies
Who Needs Classical Studies Today? Translation Festival
200 Years From the Greek Revolution
Politics: Freedom and Responsibility
Guest of Honour: German-language Literature

This year, the Hellenic Cultural Foundation will honour Thessaloniki’s writers Matsi Chatzilazarou (1914-1987) and Anestis Evangelou (1937-1994), while a discussion on the literature of Thessaloniki has also been organised.

Opening Hours:

Thursday: 4 pm – 10 pm 

Friday: 2 pm – 9 pm 

Weekend: 11 am – 9 pm 

A: 154 Egnatias Street, Thessaloniki

5 Magical Christmas Spots in Greece

Christmas is always a special time of the year, no matter where you happen to be in the world. However, some places do just happen to be a little more magical than others during the festive season.

If you’re looking for an extra special spot to spend Christmas in Greece, we’ve rounded up a few winter wonderlands featuring some of the most magical decorations, twinkling lights, shining trees, and an abundance of festive cheer. 


The illuminated central squares and streets in the Greek capital ring with music and cheer and all corners of the city – including hotels, boutiques, restaurants and bars– are decked with twinkling fairy lights during this time of year. Syntagma Square is the heart of the celebrations, with its wonderful Christmas tree, confectionary stalls and events organised by the City of Athens- putting the whole city into the festive spirit. The Christmas Factory at Technopolis and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre are standouts for their decorations, performances, music concerts, outdoor events, charity bazaars and special Christmas sparkle.


Greece’s co-capital is pure magic this time of year with its grand buildings lit up in gold and silver and the streets smelling of wonderful aromas (coming from the bakeries offering Greek Christmas treats), as Thessaloniki is the country’s city of gastronomy after all! The traditional decorated boat takes centre stage in Aristotelous Square alongside the stunning Christmas tree. Here you will find locals gathering each night and strolling around town enjoying the festivities, as well as stopping off for some shopping, dining and drinks at all the beautifully decorated shops, restaurants and bars along the way!  


A visit to Trikala at this time of year allows visitors the chance to experience the holiday fairy tale at the Mill of the Elves, the largest and most beautiful Christmas village in Greece that remains open until early January. You should also stroll in the charming alleyways of the picturesque neighbourhood of Varousi; visit Elati and the snowy Pertouli and drive to the beautiful Lake Plastira while you are at it. Definitely, a major winter highlight for the city, the Mill of Elves features various rides, children’s activities and artistic events and of course there is a Santa’s workshop and plenty of Elves spreading Christmas cheer.

Oneiroupoli, Drama

At the central square in the lovely town of Drama, Santa takes up temporary residence in a village straight out of a fairytale. Oneiroupoli is a celebration in eastern Macedonia, which is organised in the city centre and Eleftheria Square. Starting in December right through to the beginning of January, visitors are able to enjoy wonderful events including Christmas concerts, theatre and dance performances; as well as sports activities, games and other special programs. This is by far home to one of Greece’s biggest and most festive Christmas Markets.

Vamvakou, Laconia

In the mountain village of Vamvakou, Laconia the holiday atmosphere kicks into high gear on December 4, with Christmas lights, festive performances, and a live concert by the talented Mariza Rizou and her band. The festivities will continue throughout December, culminating on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Located in the Peloponnese, only a few hours’ drive from Athens, Vamvakou’s idyllic mountain setting on the slopes of Mount Parnon makes it a perfect Christmas weekend destination in Greece. 

Main Images by Blue Mandarin © (Copyright) 

Thessaloniki Becomes Greece’s First UNESCO City of Gastronomy

Thessaloniki has proudly become Greece’s first city to join the UNESCO Network of Gastronomy- recognised for its rich culinary traditions, vibrant gastronomic community, and delightful local delicacies. 

The city’s municipality shared that it had prepared and submitted a complete file highlighting its centuries-old gastronomic traditions and was ecstatic to learn it had been welcomed as one of the city’s to be joining UNESCO’s network of gastronomy.

Insights Greece - Thessaloniki Becomes Greece’s First UNESCO City of Gastronomy
Thessaloniki’s famous Koulouri

 “Gastronomy is an important comparative advantage of Thessaloniki. Our city is now a UNESCO-stamped crossroads of taste and culture. Delicious regional cuisine is the backbone of our gastronomy offerings, which enhances the travel experience,” announced Thessaloniki’s Mayor Konstantinos Zervas. 

By joining the network, cities commit to collaborating and developing partnerships that allow the promotion of creativity and cultural industries; to share best practices, to strengthen participation in cultural life, and to integrate culture in economic and social development plans.

Thessaloniki has always been referred to as the gastronomic capital of Greece, based on its diverse culinary traditions and the delightful flavours that it offers. As the formation of the overall culture of the city came under many influences, Thessaloniki’s cuisine is one of the richest in Greece. Traditional recipes, as well as modern creations, have allowed a wide range of food choices for both locals and international visitors. 

Insights Greece - Thessaloniki Becomes Greece’s First UNESCO City of Gastronomy
Pita Souvlaki

The result is a famously diverse and welcoming city, with food that draws on ingredients, recipes, and influences going back centuries. Here you will find traditional tavernas serving authentic dishes alongside modern bistros offering contemporary twists on century-old recipes. 

Some of Thessaloniki’s most famous foods include: 

Koulouri – Bagel like bread topped with sesame seeds

Bougatsa- Cream-filled pastry

Patsas- Tripe soup

Bakaliaro- Fried salt cod

Pites – Pies such as Spanakopita (spinach pie) and Tiropita (cheese pie) 

Bouliourdi – Baked Feta topped with tomatoes, green peppers, chilli flakes, and oregano

Pita Souvlaki/Gyros- Pita bread filled with grilled meat, tomato, onion, tzatziki and homemade fries   

Soutzoukakia- Spicy handmade sausages

Trigona- Triangle pastries filled with custard

Tsoureki- Sweet brioche-style bread

Kazan Dipi- Milk pudding

Thessaloniki truly is a food lovers paradise; with plenty of local dishes and delicacies to satisfy all tastes! 

Iconic Restaurant in Thessaloniki Set to Reopen After 30 Years

Thessaloniki’s iconic ‘Olympos Naoussa’ restaurant- internationally known as one of Greece’s best eateries of the 1960’s- has received a glamorous makeover and is finally set to reopen its famous doors after 30 years.

Set in a prime seafront location in the centre of the city, just 150 metres from Aristotelous Square, the restaurant is now part of a new stunning boutique hotel that is having its grand opening in January 2022.

The highly-anticipated renovation of Olympus Naoussa is a huge celebration for Greece’s co-capital, which is also known as the country’s centre of gastronomy.  

Featuring large windows that allow guests to enjoy the stunning sea views- the art deco inspired restaurant boasts an open kitchen, patterned floor tiles, chic lighting and pops of greenery that blend in beautifully with the earthy brown tones that dominate the open space.

The new Olympos Naoussa will introduce unique dishes highlighting both Greek and international gastronomy; redefining local flavours, aromas and traditional recipes in the most exciting ways.

“The local Thessaloniki cuisine will be presented as never before, introducing its cosmopolitan mosaic of flavours to locals and travellers. After all, Greek products deserve to be centre stage. Here they will be able to taste a world of unique gastronomy and step into a timeless legend where the menu truly showcases real, creative, incredible food,” says management.

Behind the new menu and leading the kitchen floor will be award-winning top chef, Dimitris Tasioulas, Chef Ambassador of Thessaloniki and chef at Thria, which the Sunday Times named “gourmet destination” in 2019.

Famous for his deep roots in the city’s multicultural cuisine and gastronomic past and present, Dimitris’ previous works of art at Sebriko attracted the New York Times, which recommended his extraordinary plates and unique recipes.

“As the Executive Chef, Dimitris will define his exclusive concepts of naturalness in a rich dining experience. He will bring back the success of the mythical restaurant and continue its legacy with new emblematic tastes and gastronomic forms,” adds management.

Insights Greece - Iconic Restaurant in Thessaloniki Set to Reopen After 30 Years

Along with fine dining, guests will also be able to enjoy pre or after dinner drinks at ON Tiger Loop, where award-winning bartender Achilleas Plakidas and other talented bar staff will be mixing handcrafted cocktails made with unique ingredients.  

“Here you will be able to unwind the senses glass after glass, sipping inspirational cocktails infused with secret ingredients in a totally majestic atmosphere with 80s and 90s music, interaction and a lively vibe that will make you want to return,” concludes management.

A: Leoforos Nikis 5, Thessaloniki

62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off

The 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the oldest film festivals worldwide and one of the leading film events in Southeast Europe, has officially kicked off; taking place from the 4th through to the 14th of November, 2021.

Screening close to 200 films in selected movie theatres across Thessaloniki, there is also a  digital platform, where 144 titles will be featured. The Festival opened last night with Audrey Diwan’s Golden Lion winner, Happening and the popular event will close its curtains with another French title, Paris, 13th District by Jacques Audiard.

The TIFF focuses on independent cinema and emerging filmmakers from around the world- serving as an essential platform for film professionals from Greece and Southeast Europe. The event normally attracts an audience of more than 80,000; including hundreds of Greek and foreign guests, plus well-known artists, directors, producers and  talented crew from the international film scene. 

According to Festival Director Orestis Andreadakis, this year, films from all over the world will be screened at the famous halls of Olympion at the central Aristotelous Square, at Warehouse 1 close to the port, as well as at the Makedonikon Cinema.

Insights Greece - 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival Kicks Off
Makedonikon Cinema in Thessaloniki

For the first time, TIFF will host three competition sections: International Competition (a program with films from across the Globe), Meet the Neighbors Competition (with first or second features from Greece’s extended “neighborhood”), and Film Forward Competition section (with films that go beyond the conventions of film genres).

The 14 films selected in the international competition, three of which are Greek, are feature debuts or sophomore films and will be setting their sights on the Golden Alexander. They are Holy Emy by Araceli Lemos, Moon, 66 Questions by Jacqueline Lentzou, and Pack of Sheep by Dimitris Kanellopoulos.

Another three Greek films participate in the Meet the Neighbors competition section: .dog by Yianna Americanou, 18 by Vassilis Douvlis, and The Man with the Answers by Stelios Kammitsis. In addition, another triplet of Greek films is found in the “Film Forward” competition section: Magnetic Fields by Giorgos Goussis, ORFEAS2021 directed by the performance art duo FYTA and The Timekeepers of Eternity by Aristotelis Maragkos.

Moreover, the 62nd TIFF is screening eight masterpieces of Greek cinema, within the framework of the initiative “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema”, held by the Hellenic Film Academy, under the auspices of the “Greece 2021” Committee, and sponsored by the National Centre of Audiovisual Media and Communication (grand sponsor), the Greek Film Centre, Athens Epidaurus Festival and Thessaloniki Film Festival, with the support of the Greek Film Archive and Finos Film. “Motherland, I See You: The 20th Century of Greek Cinema” is an initiative dedicated to salvaging, digitalizing, screening, and studying films from the diverse heritage of 20th-century Greek cinema. 

The majority of the program’s Greek films will also be available online, through the Festival’s platform.

Organisers have also made note that this annual celebration of the Cinema will take place safely, observing all the health protocols, as only those who have a vaccination certificate or intellect will be able to enter the rooms.

For the full program head to Thessaloniki International Film Festival 

Images Courtesy of TIFF

Celebrating OXI Day, October 28

Oxi Day commemorated on the 28th of October each year, is one of the proudest National Holidays of Greece, highlighting the important role the country played in WWII. 

On this day in 1940, Greece’s Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas denied Benito Mussolini’s request to allow Italian troops to cross the border into Greece. He responded to the Italian ultimatum in French, “Alors, c’est la gueree!” meaning “Then it is War!”

In the days following, the word of Metaxas’ denial had spread around Greece’s capital and the Greek population took to the streets shouting “Oxi!”. The decision made by Metaxas on the 28th of October 1940, is commemorated each year as a day that represents heroism, bravery, and solidarity for millions of Greeks all around the world.

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
PM Metaxas was praised by the people of Greece

What Happened On This Day In History

The “No” of Metaxas expressed the feelings of all Greeks, echoed in the streets and throughout the land – as they yelled “No” to fascism, “No” to occupation. The Greek troops, skilled in fighting in this rough and mountainous territory, succeeded in pushing them back. 

Many historians worldwide believe that Greece’s bravery may have changed the course of the war. It was ultimately necessary for the Germans to occupy Greece, which diverted their resources, and delayed their invasion of Russia, which led to their eventual defeat.

Greece’s bravery was recognised by allies and enemies alike.

People like the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the British statesman Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Charles de Gaul praised the Greek army as well.

“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks” – Winston Churchill

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Students parading in the streets

Traditions for OXI Day In Greece

On this day in Greece, most public buildings, homes and streets are adorned with Greek flags on balconies, doors and windows. You will see parades and other festivities taking place throughout the country. It is a national holiday, which means that everything is closed, with the exception of cafes and restaurants.

The October 28th holiday is also celebrated by Greeks around the world; parades and festivities take place internationally including major cities in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.

How do Greeks celebrate their national anniversary?

In schools, pupils recite poems, sing songs or play scenes from the Greek-Italian war wearing costumes of the time. The school teachers usually talk about Greeks’ heroism at the war.

On the anniversary day, schoolchildren parade on the main street of their city, island, or village, as they march synchronously along with military music. Pupils’ parents and many people watch the parade, waving small flags and applauding. The best student of each school holds the Greek flag in the parade and is called simeofóros ‘the flag-bearer’.

There are also cultural groups, with each region of Greece wearing its own traditional costumes, and performing their music and dances. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
The Greek flag raised high

Then the armed services of Greece parade. The military cadets in dress uniform march, and also all of the special units. In Thessaloniki, boats from the navy come to the harbour. The tanks of the army fill the surrounding streets and join the military parade. Skilled air force pilots fly in precise formations overhead, and military helicopters also. 

This is also the time that Greeks honour the bravery of all the emergency services and rescue teams, the mountain rescue, firefighters, coast guard, first responders, and others that dedicate their lives to the safety and protection of others.

Before the parade, they lay a wreath of laurel onto the monument or square of the municipality or village they live in.

After the parades, families, and friends get together and many times eat out in a tavern. This is a time for a big lunch or a festive afternoon with friends in a traditional taverna. 

Where are the biggest parades?

Insights Greece - Celebrating OXI Day, October 28
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Syntagma Square

The biggest celebration in Greece happens in Thessaloniki, with a student and military parade and many officials attending. In Athens and all other cities of Greece, there are student parades and an all-over festive feel.

Free admission to Archaeological sites and Public Museums

On Oxi Day, admission to archaeological sites and public museums around Greece is free.

This includes the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Ancient Delphi, Ancient Mycenae, and Ancient Epidaurus.

In addition, you can visit the Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, or the Byzantine Museum free of charge.