The City of Athens, museums and cultural institutions are hosting a bright, festive and creative array of events, happenings, and displays to celebrate Christmas in the city. Daily, there are plenty of fun things to see and do for all ages. Starting with the lighting of the sky-high Christmas tree that took place in Syntagma Square on December 11, inaugurated by Giorgos Kaminins in his last Christmas speech as Mayor of Athens, the City of Athens has planned a huge series of seasonal events that will be taking place around the capital. There are ice skating rinks, Christmas factories, music, and dance performances and themed cafes to visit.
The seaside Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) has been decked out with Christmas light installations and not one but three Christmas trees as well as a large ice skating rink. SNFCC is also hosting a series of free Christmas-themed events for all ages, such as DIY Christmas tree workshops, Christmas Roads, a performance with stilt walkers, acrobats, jugglers and mimes, seasonal craft-making and a Christmas Opera Gala performed by the National Opera.
On December 21st, which is Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year, The National Observatory is hosting acclaimed electronica composer, singer and musician Konstandinos Vita, who will perform his minimalist ‘soundscapes’ and poetic tunes. The following day there will also be a daytime workshop titled ‘Christmas Astronomy Workshop’ for children aged 4-6 years, while in the evening of the 22nd the National Observatory is hosting ‘Travel to the Moon’, a thematic journey inspired by the 19th Century map of the moon created by Julius Schmidt that presents the different lunar phases and eclipses using a copy of the Antikythera Mechanism and the Dorides Telescope. On the 23rd December, the Asteroskopeio will organise a treasure hunt for kids aged 7-11 in their gardens with the theme of learning about astronomy and astrophysics and an astronomic lesson on the Christmas Star.
Between December 22-31, the historic Olympia Municipal Maria Callas Theatre will reopen to the public in full Christmas spirit, hosting musical and theatre performances for children and adults alike. On December 25th the artists Nalyssa Green, Sugahspank! and Louis will perform a Christmas Day tribute to Philhellene Leonard Cohen titled “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. During those final nine days of the year various jazz, traditional Greek and other music groups will be performing around the city, with the highlight these events taking place on the 29th-30th in Syntagma Square, where the Dutch Embassy is running a music project called Glasshouse, featuring top radio producers and DJs and raising money for local charities.
Also under the auspices of The City of Athens, Monastiraki Square will feature as centre stage for pop-up events such as Swing dancing and other music and dance performances, while the Kypseli Municipal Market will run a variety of creative and educational workshops for kids, while in the Commercial Triangle of central Athens passers-by can be surprised by the dance-theatre performance “Angels for a Moment” – this theme can also be enjoyed in Syntagma Square where two installations featuring neon wings and a halo that city-dwellers can pose for photos in front of to momentarily be transformed into light-filled angels. To end the year and welcome in 2019, the City of Athens has organized an audio-visual spectacle in Thisseio with the Acropolis as a backdrop, starring actors an singers.
Apart from the SNFCC ice-skating enthusiasts of all sizes can do their thing at the rinks in the Athens Concert Hall indoor, the Escape Centre in Ilion, Athens Heart in Tavros and the Village Shopping & More in Rendi. If you’d rather watch ice skating than do it, don’t miss out on the Russian Ice Stars‘ performance of Snow White on Ice at Faliro’s Tae Kwon Do stadium (December 19-23).
The Acropolis Museum has organised a series of workshops (such as ‘Wishes and Symbols of Christmas) and storytelling events for kids, as well as Christmas music performances by the Athens State Orchestra and The Swinging Cats.
The Benaki Children’s Museum is presenting a selection of toys spanning the centuries in an exhibition titled ‘Christmas Memories’ on the 15th December and on the same day the Benaki Museum in Kolonaki will be hosting chamber music groups under the umbrella of the Underground Youth Orchestra who will perform seasonal compositions.
Finally, parents can take their kids to Golden Hall where there is an annual Christmas-themed display of giant festive sweets, the Ice Queen, Santa’s Grotto and more, or to the Christmas Factory in Technopolis. Another wonderful option for children when in the city is to visit Little Kookin Psyrri, with its other-worldly decor and giant cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows and other indulgences.