This article was updated September 2018.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Yiasou Greek Festival is back.
The cultural event has been a can’t-miss Charlotte tradition for generations but if you’re new or have just never been, you might be looking for a little guidance.
Dates: September 6-9
Location: The Yiasou Greek Festival is located at Holy Trinity Greek Orthdox Cathedral in Dilworth — 600 East Boulevard, Charlotte NC 28203.
Parking: This is a popular event that is predictably crowded each year so walking, riding your bike or taking public transportation is a smart move. Bonus points — You get in free if you show a same day, stamped CATS ticket (bus or light rail). If you plan to drive, parking is available on side streets and in the Charlotte Housing Authority lot (NOT the deck) Friday night, Saturday and Sunday at 400 East Boulevard.
Map: The festival consists of indoor and outdoor food, vendors, tours and entertainment. A full map of the grounds is available here.
Food is a big deal at the festival, so come hungry. Traditional Greek pastries and full meals are available on site, to go and at a drive-thru pick-up area on Winthrop Avenue. See all menus here.
There are three main food zones at the event:
(1) Main Dining Room – Here, you’ll find full Greek dinners and pastries to consume on site as well as a separate line for to-go food. Indoor seating is available. PRO TIP: Pick up a to-go meal for your spouse, roommate friend even if they didn’t ask for it. You’ll be a hero.
(2) Outdoor Food Court / Drive-Thru – Around back, you’ll find outdoor food vendors serving gyros, souvlaki, salads and some fair foods like pizza and hot dogs. Outdoor seating is available here. This is also where you would drive up to get food on the go — at the corner of Winthrop and E. Worthington.
(3) Outdoor Coffee, Pastries, Dessert – This area (the back left when you walk in past the cathedral) is serious business. This is where you’ll find the loukoumades (Greek honey “doughnuts”), frappes (unreal frothy iced coffee drink) and the famous baklava sundaes (a mountain of ice cream topped with a generous scoop of baklava). Do not skip this area. If you have to prioritize, get the loukoumades and baklava sundae to eat there and take a box of pastries to go.
Entertainment & Education
The festival features live music, dancing, cathedral tours and living history reenactments.
Folk Dancing and Live Music: Two stages (one in the front near the entrance and one in the back) will feature live performances throughout the festival. Grabbing an outdoor table so you can watch while you eat is a pro move.
Demonstrations and Reenactments: Catch the traditional changing of the guard.
Lectures: A full historical lecture series on the Warriors of Greece will include hourly presentations Friday and Saturday. See times and topics here.
Tours and Choral Performances: Tours of the cathedral are offered hourly (except 3 p.m. on Saturday) and choral performances take place at 2:30, 3 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Learn more.
Greek Grocery: Imported olives, cheeses, coffee, wine, dolmades and more
Souvenirs: Jewelry, nesting dolls, art, religious books, clothing and more
How to tackle your first Greek Festival visit:
(1) Start with a loop around the grounds. Get your bearings straight, identify booths/zones of interest and organize your plan of attack.
(2) Try a $6 wine tasting. If you’re looking to linger and fill up some time before diving into the food, a wine tasting is the way to go. If you’re here with kids, the playland might be a better bet — rides, games and kid-friendly entertainment.
(3) Eat. Try to avoid peak meal hours so the line isn’t so overwhelming. Grab a seat outside near a stage so you can watch the music and dancing while you eat. Wrap up your meal with a frappe and baklva sundae. TRUST ME.
(4) Take a cathedral tour.
(5) Shop the vendors. Save this for last so you’re not lugging your goods around. Don’t forget about the to-go pastries inside. That counts as a souvenir, too.