The Athens and Epidaurus Festival is the city’s annual arts festival and a highlight of the Greek summer calendar. With a legacy that spans more than sixty years, today it incorporates a full programme of music, theatre, dance and visual arts. Performances at the two ancient theatres of the Odeon Herodes Atticus and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus are highlights of the festival. Both are famous for their exemplary acoustics and many of the great works of classical playwrights, such as Sophocles, premiered at the Epidaurus Theatre in ancient times.
The 2023 festival reopens to live audiences, with performances by international musicians at the landmark stage of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus beneath the Acropolis, including Sigur Rós, Nils Frahm and John Cale.
Audiences can also expect performances by the Greek National Opera, including Giacomo Puccini’s, Madama Butterfly and Giuseppe Verdi’s, Nabucco. Greek singer and songwriter Yiannis Aggelakas will also perform from his latest album.
Avant-garde stage director Philippe Quesne will close the programme at the Odeon on the 4th August with ‘The Garden of Delights’, his latest theatre production inspired by the famous painting by Dutch painter Jérôme Bosch.
At the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, eight productions will be performed two days a week from July to August, by ancient Greek playwrights Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes. This year, the Festival invites German theatre director Frank Castorf to Epidaurus for the first time to direct Euripides’ Medea. The innovative director, will use improvisation and his highly imaginative theatrical language to create a modern Greek adaptation of this ancient tragedy.
ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS
The spectacular open-air theatre of Odeon Herodes Atticus provides a magical setting at the base of the Acropolis. It has hosted legendary performances by Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti to name a few.
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Athens during the Festival, be sure to attend at least one performance at any of these ancient theatres for a truly unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience.
PERFORMANCES AT THE ODEON HERODES ATTICUS
(Note that most theatrical performances will have English subtitles. If English subtitles are included, they will be specified on the ticketing page)
1, 4, 7, 10 June | Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini – Greek National Opera – Tickets available here
12 June | Anne-Sophie Mutter – Works by Bach, Vivaldi, Previn and more – Tickets available here
15 June | Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler – Teodor Currentzis & Utopia Orchestra – Tickets available here
17 June | Maria Callas Opera Gala – Roberto Alagna & Aleksandra Kurzak with the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra – Tickets available here
18 June | Stavros Xarchakos Live with Maria Farantouri, Yiannis Kotsiras and Iro Saia – Tickets available here
19 June | John Cale (from Velvet Underground) with the Athens Philharmonic Orchestra – Tickets available here
21 June | ERT National Symphony Orchestra (World Music Day) – Free Event
22 June | The Waterboys Live – Tickets available here
23 June | Nils Frahm Live – Tickets available here
24 June | Gregory Porter Live – Tickets available here
25 June | Elli Paspala Live – Tickets available here
27 June | Sigur Roś Live – Tickets available here
29 June | Requiem by Giussepe Verdi – Lukas Karytinos & Athens State Orchestra – Tickets available here
1 July | Soundtracks by Alexandre Desplat – ERT National Symphony Orchestra – Tickets available here
3 July | Yiannis Aggelakas & the 100 Degrees – Tickets available here
5 July | Anouar Brahem Quartet – Jazz Music – Tickets available here
8 July | José James Live – Tickets available here
10 July | James Live – with Classical Orchestra and Gospel Choir – Tickets available here
11 July | Herbie Hancock Live – Tickets available here
12 July | Melody Gardot Live – Tickets available here
15 July | Works by Tchaikovsky and Grieg – Athens State Orchestra – Tickets available here
16 July | Kraftwerk Live – Tickets available here
17 July | Gilbert Gil & Family Live – Tickets available here
26, 27, 29 & 30 July | Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi – Greek National Opera – Tickets go on sale Monday 26 June 2023
4 August | Philippe Quesne – The Garden of Delights – Theatre – Tickets available here
ANCIENT THEATRE OF EPIDAURUS
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is regarded as the best-preserved ancient theatre in Greece and famous for its perfect acoustics. It was constructed in the late 4th century BC with a capacity of more than 12,000 spectators.
Why Athens Tip: Greek and English subtitles available for all performances
JULY to AUGUST 2023
PROGRAMME AT ANCIENT EPIDAURUS THEATRE
7 & 8 July 2023 | Hippolytus by Euripides – National Theatre of Greece – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
14 & 15 July 2023 | Wasps by Aristophanes – National Theatre of Greece – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
21 & 22 July 2023 | Medea by Euripides – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
28 & 29 July 2023 | Frogs by Aristophanes – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
4 & 5 August 2023 | Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
11 & 12 August 2023 | Hecuba by Euripides – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
18 & 19 August 2023 | The Trojan Women by Euripides – State Theatre of Northern Greece – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
25 & 26 August 2023 | Oedipus Rex by Sophocles – Tickets available here Transport Option: Private transfer to the Theatre
GETTING TO ANCIENT EPIDAURUS
Epidaurus theatre is located within the archaeological site of the sanctuary of Asklepios in Palea Epidaurus, in the region of Argolis and is a two hour drive from Athens. Why Athens offers private taxi’s, mini-vans and mini-bus transfers to and from the site on the evenings when performances are showing. You can find out more information about ways to get to ancient Epidaurus here.