Greek Festivals in Los Angeles and Greater Southern California have developed quite a following. Almost every Greek Orthodox church has an annual festival to benefit the church. Fans of Greek folk dancing, music and food gravitate from one celebration to another throughout the season. Festival entrance fees range from free to $5, so they count on patrons to eat lots of gyros, souvlakia and baklava to raise funds.
Entries listed as old dates did not have current year information available when this page was updated. Check their website for more information. If you are the organizer of one of these events and you need to submit updated information, please email it to me here.
St. George Greek Festival - Palm Desert, CA
When: February 25-26, 2017, Sat & Sun 11 am - 8 pm
Where: 74-109 Larrea Street, Palm Desert, CA 92260
Cost: $3, Active Military, Police & Firefighters w/ ID & Kids under 12, FREE
Info: www.pdgreekfest.org , (760) 568-9901
St. John the Baptist OC Greek Festival
When: May 19-21, 2017, Fri 3-10 pm, Sat 12-10 pm, Sun 12-10 pm
Where: 405 N. Dale Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801
Cost: $3, Free Admission for Seniors (65+), Children 12 and under and all Military, Police, and Fire Personnel (with ID)
Parking: Free parking and free shuttle to and from the Buena Park Mall at La Palma and Dale. Shuttle stop location is behind Walmart.
St. Nicholas Valley Greek Festival
When: May 27-29, 2017, Sat-Mon 1-9 pm
Where: 9501 Balboa Blvd., Northridge, CA
Cost: $3, Free for kids 10 and under, seniors 65+ and Military, Police and Firefighters with ID
Info: www.valleygreekfestival.com, (818) 886-4040
St. George Greek Festival
When: June 2-4, 2017, Sat-Sun 11 am – 10 pm
Where: 10846 Downey Ave. Downey, CA 90241
Cost: $2, Seniors and kids under 12 Free
Info: www.stgeorgedowney.org, (562) 862-6461
St. Spyridon Greek Festival
When: June 9-11, 2017, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 11 am - 10 pm, Sun 11 am - 8 pm
Where: 3655 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92103
Cost: $3, Free on Friday and before 1 pm Sat-Sun
Info: www.sdgreekfestival.com, (619) 297-4165
St. Prophet Elias Greek Festival
When: June 10-11, 2017, Sat 12-10 pm, Sun 12-9 pm
Where: 1035 Inland Center Dr., San Bernardino, CA 92402
Info: www.propheteliaschurch.org, (909) 885-6213
St. Demetrios Greek Festival (Ventura County)
When: June 23-25, 2017, Fri 5-9 pm, Sat 10:30 am – 9 pm, Sun 10:30 am – 7 pm (Hours TBA)
Where: Freedom Park, Camarillo, CA 93010
Cost: $2, Free for kids under 12, $1 off with coupon on website
Info: vcgreekfestival.org, www.facebook.com/vcgreekfestival, (805) 482-1273
St. Paul's Greek Festival
When: June 23-25, 2017, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 12-10 pm, Sun 12-9 pm
Where: 4949 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA
Cost: $3, Free for kids under 10, Seniors 65+ Free Admission on Saturday Noon – 5:00PM
Info: irvinegreekfest.com, www.stpaulsirvine.org, (949) 733-2366
South Bay Greek Festival
When: July 15-17, 2016, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 12-10 pm, Sun 12-9 pm (2017 TBA)
Where: 722 Knob Hill, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Cost: $2, Free for kids under 12, $1 seniors, Free with coupon on website.
Info: www.sbgreekfestival.com, (310) 540-2434
St. Barbara Greek Festival
When: July 29-30, 2017, Sat - Sun 11 am - 7 pm
Where: Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar Avenue, near the corner of Calle Real and W. Junipero Street (101 North, exit at Pueblo Street)
Parking: Parking is a challenge, so arrive early if you want to park close.
Info: www.santabarbaragreekfestival.org, (805) 683-4492
St. Spyridon Festival
When: No info for 2017, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat -Sun 12-10 pm
Where: 1391 Chaffee Street, Upland, CA.
Cost: $2, 12 and under free, Happy Hour on Friday 6-8 PM (Free admission, discounts on food).
Info: saintspyridon.org, (909) 985-4411
Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Festival
When: Sept 2-4, 2017, Sat-Mon 12-10 pm
Where: 5761 E. Colorado, Long Beach, CA 90814
Cost: $3, kids under 12 free, Mon 12-4 Free for all, Discount coupon on website
Info: www.lbgreekfest.org, (562) 494-8929
Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Festival - Cardiff by the Sea
When: Sept 9-10, 2017, Sat 10 am - 10 pm, Sun 11 am - 9 pm
Where: 3459 Manchester Ave. #32, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
Cost: $3, Children under 12 Free; free parking at Mira Costa College
Info: www.cardiffgreekfestival.com, (760) 942-0920
San Juan Capistrano St. Basil Greek Festival
When: Sept 16-17, 2017, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 11:30 am - 11 pm, Sun 11:30 - 9 pm
Where: Saint Basil Greek Orthodox Church, 27129 Calle Arroyo, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Info: www.sjcgreekfest.org, www.stbasiloc.org, (949) 542-3445
St. Anthony Greek Festival
When: Sept. 22-24, 2017, 1-9 pm
Where: St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, 778 South Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA (between Huntington and California) (NOT at Santa Anita)
Cost: $4, 12 and under free. $2 off online
Info: www.pasadenagreekfest.org, (626) 449-6943
Antelope Valley/Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Festival - Lancaster
When: Sept 22-24, 2017, Fri 5-9 pm, Sat 11:00 am-9 pm, Sun noon to 9 pm
Where: St. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 43404 30th Street West, Lancaster, CA 93536
Cost: $2, Children 12 and under Free. Military ID free. Friday night Free. (2015 prices to be confirmed)
Info: avgreekfest.com, (661) 945-1212
St. Andrew's Riverside Greek Fest
When: Oct 3-5, 2017
Where: 4700 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, CA 92507
Cost: Adults $5, kids 12 and under are free, College staff FREE Friday night; UCR/RCC/CBU College students $2 Friday, $4 weekend. ID required
Parking: Free parking at UC Riverside in lot 30 across MLK Blvd from the church
Info: riversidegreekfest.com, (951) 369-0309
St. George Greek Food Festival
When: October 6-8, 2017, Fri 5-11 pm, Sat 11 am - 11 pm, Sun noon - 5 pm
Where: Hellenic Park, 401 Truxtun Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Cost: $5, Children under 12 Free
Info: www.stgeorgebakersfield.org, (661) 325-8694
St. Sophia Greek Festival
When: Oct 6-8, 2017, Fri 5-11 pm, Sat noon - 11 pm, Sun noon - 10 pm (2017 TBA)
Where: 1324 S. Normandie, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Cost: $5, Seniors $3, kids under 12 free
Info: www.lagreekfest.com, (323) 737-2424
Note: St. Sophia is next to a Latino Catholic church and invites a Latin band to play a set on Saturday and Sunday when the Greek band takes a break.
St. Nicholas Greek Festival in Temecula
When: Oct 14-15, 2017, Sat 10 am - 9 pm, Sun 11 am to 8 pm (2017 TBA)
Where: Old Town Temecula Civic Center, 41000 Main Street, Temecula, CA 92590
Cost: Adults $2, Children under 12 - $1.
Parking: Free parking at Old Town Garage, 28690 Mercedes Street, Temecula, CA 92590
Info: www.stnicholastemecula.org (951) 296-6207
At Greek festivals, everyone is welcome to join in the social dancing, and there are often lessons over the course of the day. However, there are certain protocols for joining a dance line. Learn about Greek Dance Etiquette.
This information was accurate at the time of publication. Please check with venues for the most current information.
If it's your first Greek Festival, or your first time venturing out on the dance floor, you may be wondering how to jump into the fray without getting run over. Some dances are very simple, with a few repeated steps. Others are more complex with dozens of variations. Everyone is welcome to dance, but it helps to follow a few basic rules so you don't step on any toes.
A few Greek dances are danced as couples or solo, but most Greek dances are danced in a line.
The line moves generally to the right and the person on the end with their right hand free is the leader. Everyone else follows the leader.
When a dance has a lot of variations, there is no particular order to dance those steps, so the leader calls the steps with hand signals. It is important to watch the leader to know what is coming next. If the leader is not using hand signals, you have to watch their feet.
The first rule of Greek dancing is never try to join a line at the right end (beginning of the line). Sometimes you will see the leader offer the lead to another dancer, but no one takes over the lead without an invitation.
Beginners should always join at the back of the line. You will see experienced dancers break into the middle of a line. There are two reasons for doing this. One is to dance next to friends who are already in the line. The second reason that experienced dancers will break into the middle of the line is so they don't have to trip over beginners who don't know the steps.
So if you don't know the steps, go to the back. Don't break into the middle of a line.
Sometimes, if the line is long, you end up opposite the leader at the other end of the circle and it's hard to follow the steps because you are looking at them backwards. If it's crowded, you might not be able to see the leader through the crowd of other dancers.
If you're having a hard time getting the steps, you might want to go behind the leader for a few minutes to practice the steps before joining the end of the line.
The most common dance is the Syrto. It is easy to learn because most people dance it without variations and the bands like to play 20 minute Syrto medleys, so there is plenty of time to pick up the 12-step slow-quick-quick slow-quick-quick rhythm. (This doesn't apply if you get in my line. My feet get bored doing the same 12 steps for 20 minutes, so I throw in lots of variations.)
At many Greek Festivals they teach a couple of the dances once or twice a day so that beginners get a chance to learn the steps properly. You can also ask some of the more experienced dancers to show you the steps in between songs or when the band takes a break.
If you find the line dances intimidating, you can still join in the Tsifteteli, the Greek version of a belly danced which can be danced as a couple or solo. There are no steps, just get out there and wiggle.
The other dance you will see people dancing alone is the Zembekiko, or drunkard's dance. This also has no specific steps, but involves stumbling around precariously to the rhythm of the music.
In the Zembekiko you will see several dancers down on one knee clapping around a particular dancer, and then they'll trade off. There are no rules. You can dance alone or you can join the clapping for someone else. As long as you're having fun, you're doing just fine.
Now go out and hit the dance floor. Opa!