Thousands of people streamed through the gates of the National Museum of Australia, on the morning of 9 April, 2022. It was a fairly overcast day, although this did not slow down the numbers of people who were seen flooding the entrance of the Museum. It was the second time this year that the Agora festival had come to the heart of the nation’s capital.
The celebration of the Agora festival was a huge success. Staff were smiling and excited, soaking up the unpredicted dry conditions on Saturday. The public was eager and in a relaxed mood to welcome the Agora Festival back to Canberra.
Originally, the ‘Agora’ was the centre of athletic, social, spiritual and political life in Ancient Greece. The modern version of the Agora festival made its way to Canberra as the ACT’s growing Greek community continues to bring a variety of food, fashion and beliefs into the nations Capital.
Almost two percent of Canberra’s population has Greek heritage. A similar percentage exists in the Australia-wide population of those with a Greek heritage, equalling approximately 421,000 people.
Throughout the day famous Greek songs were being played inside the Museum. The Local Kefi band performed alongside Greek dancers of all ages and accompanied by the local Greek Australian Hellenic choir. The atmosphere was electric with the public dancing and singing along with the performers, tasting delicious food, browsing market stalls, with everyone enjoying the special day.
The Agora festival also tied in with the museum’s current Ancient Greece exhibition which is being showcased for a further three weeks. The exhibition contained ancient greek sculptures, warriors helmuts, and ancient pottery.
Some of the exhibition items were sourced from all over the world but mostly from the British Museum. More than 170 objects were on display. I was surprised and amazed at the amount of items the museum had in the exhibition in which a lot of the items were from overseas. It was a great addition to the Agora Festival in where people of all ages could walk through the exhibition and get a taste for the Ancient Greek history.
The public was seen enjoying traditional Greek meals prepared by local Greek clubs from around Sydney and Canberra. Foods ranged from the famous Souvlaki to Canberra’s Spanakopitaas and Ciropites, MrPuff’s Lokmades, Halloumi Me’s Halloumi Spring Rolls, Halloumi Chips and other catering services were also on offer on a vibrant day in the nations capital.
Throughout the day, people were also encouraged to visit stalls by local artists and importers who were selling hand-made clothing and jewellery, as well as perfume and beauty products. There was also face painting available for kids.
The day was a fantastic experience with a wonderful sense of Greek history and culture in which people from all over Australia came together at the National Museum of Canberra to celebrate the Agora Festival. I enjoyed the experience and would highly recommend this to anyone interested in Greek culture. Make sure you come visit when it returns to the nation’s capital.
Photos by Jack Tallarida Lyons