Saint Elias Church 77th Annual Mediterranean Festival

Saint Elias Church shows Austin for the 77th year that it knows how to party

Saint Elias Church 77th Annual Mediterranean Festival
Courtesy of Bryan Rubio

408 E. 11th; Friday-Saturday, Oct. 16-17, 6pm-12mid

The Saint Elias Mediterranean Festival has long been considered one of the premier cultural festivals of Central Texas. The celebration takes place both Friday and Saturday nights on the Saint Elias Church grounds, and it genuinely lives up to the promise, "Fun for All Ages!" First of all, there's the magnificent food: The parish kitchen is commandeered by parishioners with culinary know-how, and hand-made spanikopita, hummus, tabouleh, dolmas, Romanian sausage, kibbe, souvlaki, gyros, tyropita (cheese spanikopita), and Eritrean specialties are prepared. Fabulous Mediterranean desserts are baked as well, including baklava, amanool cookies, and namoura Lebanese pastries. All these food items are for sale at the festival, and gelato from Teo will be sold this year as well.

As far as beverages go, Greek, Lebanese, and other Mediter­ranean wines will be flowing, and the festival itself is sponsored by Bacardi, Absolut Vodka, and Twin Liquors, if that gives you an idea of just how festive this festival can be. Soft drinks and water will be available for purchase as well as wine and cocktails.

And then there's the dancing! Greek folk musicians Stavros & Maria will be performing, and renowned Middle Eastern DJ Chris Ferris will be spinning platters to lay down the groove. Gene Attal, chair of this year's Mediterranean Festival, says: "It isn't a dance contest. The Greek dancing is for everyone – audience participation is key! Even if you don't know how to dance, it's a lot more fun when you just get out there." Those who have traditional Greek or other costumes are encouraged to show them off, and there will be dance demonstrations to get the ball rolling.

A festival marketplace will be open, with vendors selling items such as artifacts from the Holy Land and Orthodox icons. Tours of Saint Elias will be given also for those who may never have seen the colorful interior of a Greek Orthodox church. A Kids' Oasis will provide games and other fun activities for children. Every year, between 3,000 and 5,000 people flock to this joyous celebration of food and family. Advance tickets are available at all Twin Liquors locations for a donation of $5, or you can pay at the gate.

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