Summer Nostos FestivalSummer Nostos Festival

An Eight-Day Celebration that we Long to Relive!

June 28 2018

This year, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (ΙΣΝ/SNF) welcomed us once again to a large summer celebration; a celebration for the entire city, for every Athens resident and visitor. The Summer Nostos Festival (SNFestival) brought with it all the elements of the summer: enjoyment, carelessness, beautiful memories, even thunderstorms! It is an open and welcoming festival, with programming that encourages the peaceful coexistence of all people without exclusion, while welcoming everyone, both individually and collectively. 

The Summer Nostos Festival was our summer for eight days. Stronger than ever, bigger than ever and with more visitors than ever before. The Festival included music, dance, sports, original performances, discussions, games, contemporary art, the 7th SNF International Conference on Philanthropy and an impressive line-up with the biggest names from Greece and abroad. 

The curtain fell on this year's open SNFestival events with remarks by the Co-President of the SNF, Andreas Dracopoulos, who mentioned: “The public’s enthusiasm for the SNFCC that is hosting us this week has exceeded all of our hopes and expectations. It was a personal bet that we seemed to have won early on, both in spirit and in actual numbers, it has been a very satisfying journey for all involved and a very successful endeavor, not only for Greece but on a global basis, of a truly successful public-private partnership. Despite the highly polarized times in which we live, and perhaps because of them, people have an enduring desire to come together and connect. People appreciate quality, and show respect when and where respect is shown to them. The creation of the SNFCC sought to provide positive disruption in Greece both over the short- and long-term. This week, we are returning as a Foundation to our “home”. Thank you all for having embraced SNFCC as your own and for having integrated it into your daily lives. You are the soul of this project.”

186,000 visitors shared the unique moments of this multifaceted festival with free admission and access to all, offering something for every taste. 

And because the Summer Nostos Festival encapsulates the idea of “nostos” (homecoming), the inexhaustible desire to return to all things familiar; familiar emotions and places, which have helped shape us, we already miss it and start dreaming of the next one. 

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, as the host, organizer and exclusive supporter of the SNFestival, will return next year, from June 23rd to June 30th, 2019, with a large celebration to the “home” it created for all people, to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).

A brief retrospect of everything we experienced, everything we saw, and everything we are already nostalgic about...

Τhe performance by Joyce DiDonato, one of the world’s most famous opera singers, stood out from the field of classical and contemporary music, alongside the “live documentary” by Sam Green on the legendary Kronos Quartet, the presentation of the prematurely departed Islandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Theatre of Voices. One of the most successful and memorable concerts was the one by the Greek band Stereo Nova attended by thousands of people, while one of the most anticipated performances, which attracted the interest of music lovers from all over Greece, was the one by John Cale & Band. Festival highlights included performances by Animal Collective and the impressive Greek-Jamaican R&B singer, Lianne La Havas. The live performances by Greek artists Anna Vissi and Onirama resulted to two “explosive” evenings, which transformed into full-on parties, delighting audiences. Unique rhythm and color were provided in this year’s Festival by the sensuous Yasmine Hamdan, as well as the artists-DJs from Africa, representatives of the contemporary African electronic scene, who filled this year’s SNFestival with local sounds, dialects and elements from their traditions.

In Dance and Entertainment, there were many performances that attracted the interest of audiences and filled the different venues where they were presented: The American Ballet Theatre Studio Company enchanted the audience, Theater of War Productions returned with an extremely topical play, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s last sermon, The Drum Major Instinct, which was a major success, the dynamic choreography by Daphnis Kokkinos with the Greek National Opera Dance School and the surprise collaboration with the ABT Studio Company, the American Monica Bill Barnes, who surprised and delighted us with the unforgettable Happy Hour, Greek National Opera’s Ballet Director, Konstantinos Rigos, and the Oktana Dance Theatre who presented, in a packed hall, an emblematic dance performance, Greek choreographer Fokas Evangelinos, with the inspired performance Chess Moves and the famous chess master Garry Kasparov who provided live commentary on an epic chess match. Magicians, stand-up comedians, dance instructors, dancers and renowned street artists were all there, every day, to surprise and invigorate us with their imagination, their humor and their impressive feats. Inventor and artist John Edmark was also there to guide us through the most unbelievable secrets of mathematics and nature, along with the shadow-player Elias Karellas who presented Karagiozis and his new adventure with Aristophanes’ Birds, for four days.

In addition, distinguished curator, critic, scholar and painter, Robert Storr, along with internationally renowned curators Barbara London, Kalliopi Minioudaki and Franscesca Pietropaolo, returning to moving images, presented an international video art program for the SNFestival audience, titled We Interrupt Regular Broadcasting to Bring You This Special Program! Through selected videos and films, with different moods, techniques and timely or timeless themes, nine distinguished artists from abroad, but also from Greece, tackled the concept of Disruption in a variety of ways. 

Throughout the Summer Nostos Festival, both children and adults had the opportunity to play, to learn and exercise in multiple areas of the SNFCC, through a rich program of activities designed for the whole family that included kayaking in the Canal, conquering the climbing wall, playing with water, painting on large canvases, participating in sports tournaments and learning new sports. 

The 7th annual SNF International Conference on Philanthropy was also held as part of the SNFestival. The Conference explored one of the most discussed and debated concepts of our times, that of Disruption. Almost 80 speakers addressed, inter alia, the socioeconomic changes and groundbreaking technological advancements, and the significant impact they have on standard modes of operation in every area of life, including philanthropy. The conference examined, among others, the effects that pervasive inequality has in disrupting social cohesion, the evolution of artificial intelligence and its consequences, and presented those who through their groundbreaking work attempt to disrupt this cycle of inequality and bring about change both on a local and global level. 


The speakers of this year’s Conference included, among others: Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, Konstantinos Daskalakis, Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MIT, Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, Nicholas Christakis, Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, Mike Lazaridis, Founder of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Dr. Timothy Shriver, President of the Special Olympics International movement and many others, all distinguished in their respective area of expertise. The full material from the Conference is available on the SNF’s website, at www.SNF.org. 

Furthermore, an event was held, for the first time ever, in collaboration with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, on social and political polarization and the ways to address it. The SNF has supported the establishment of this new academic and public organization with a grant totaling $150 million. The aim of the SNF Agora Institute is to enhance civil engagement in democratic processes and to promote civil discourse. 
In addition, it is worth mentioning the high interest exhibited by the audience in the series of lectures organized by the National Library of Greece as part of this year’s SNFestival. The lectures were held in the NLG’s new home at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. 

All programs and events were made possible with the valuable contribution of 170 volunteers. 

Finally, as every year, on June 23rd, on the occasion of World Olympic Day, the evening race SNF RUN: Running into the Future took place. Despite the heavy rainfall at the start of the race, almost 4,000 runners united on the streets of Athens, finished at the SNFCC and enjoyed an award ceremony with journalist Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou that also provided live commentary on the race. 

Even if each of us remembers different things from this eight-day celebration, we will all definitely remember, with the same intensity and joy, the choreographed fireworks display that lit up the sky above the SNFCC on the evenings of June 23rd and 24th. 

The Summer Nostos Festival, organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in collaboration with the SNFCC, managed, for yet another year, to bring together people of different age groups and different interests, to combine different forms of expression, and to set up a summer celebration that was open to all. It managed to gather, under the same roof and on the same stage, all those things that surprise us, positively disrupt us, excite us and “take us back to our favorite summers!”

Thank you for coming, for participating, for supporting the Summer Nostos Festival 2018! We renew our appointment for next year –from the 23rd to the 30th of June– and keep our promise alive: Return to our Favorite Summers!

*The extraordinary severe weather conditions on Saturday, June 23rd, and Sunday, June 24th, did not allow the scheduled performance Bastet by choreographer Marianna Kavalieratou and musician Dom Bouffard to take place, as well as the appearances live actsby This Is The Kit and Bongeziwe Mabandla.