MELBOURNE NEWS

Culture and heritage

Massive Greek festival brings the buzz to historic precinct

Head to Lonsdale Street to enjoy mouth-watering Greek cuisine and vibrant culture year-round, plus two massive editions of the Antipodes Festival in February.

Lonsdale Street has been a haven of Greek culture since tens of thousands of Greek immigrants arrived in Melbourne in the 1940s post World War II.

The new Melburnians flocked to Lonsdale Street to connect with familiar food at affordable prices, music, language, newspapers and friendship while they looked for work.

Live entertainment at the Antipodes Festival
Live entertainment at the Antipodes Festival

Some of the earliest Greek restaurants included Omonia and Xenia on Lonsdale Street and Piraeus on Russell Street. Meanwhile, the Diethnes cake shop was the first cafe baking traditional Greek pastries on the premises.

Over the years, the Greek quarter has blossomed and evolved with new delis, small businesses, cafes and restaurants popping up on Heffernan Lane and Waratah Place, and round the corner to Russell Street.  

Several of Melbourne’s most beloved restaurants, such as Tsindos and Stalactites, have been managed by the same Greek families since the 60s and 70s. 

As part of our program of support for precinct associations post-lockdowns, we’ve been working closely with the Greek Quarter to support and enhance trade in the area as visitors flock back to the city.

Recent works have seen old cafe shelters make way for bespoke low-rise screens, irrigated rosemary planters, artwork, iconic blue and white umbrellas and upgraded paving

Colourful costumes at the Antipodes Festival
Colourful costumes at the Antipodes Festival

What’s coming up in the Greek precinct

Another edition of the precinct association’s huge Antipodes Festival – also known as the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival – is coming up on 25 and 26 February. 

Attracting up to 70,000 visitors to the precinct, the Antipodes Festival is the world’s largest celebration of Greek culture outside of Greece. 

This is a testament to Melbourne being one of the world’s largest Greek-speaking cities. 

The Antipodes Festival will feature 80 stalls, three stages with live performances and extended trading hours at local Greek businesses across the weekend.

A stallholder preparing delicious Greek fare
A stallholder preparing delicious Greek fare

For more information about the Lonsdale Street Greek Precinct Association and the history of Greek culture in Melbourne, visit Greek Quarter. 

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