The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is an annual initiative that aims to highlight the diverse cultural wealth of European cities, and in this way help its citizens better identify with each other. This year, Elefsina—along with Veszprém (Hungary) and Timisoara (Romania)—holds the title and presents a rich cultural agenda over the course of a year.
The programme’s name, The Mysteries of Transition, was inspired by the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were secret religious practices held in Elefsina during antiquity to honour the goddess Demetra. Makes sense that each event on the programme was therefore dubbed a Mystery. The festival’s cultural agenda is built around three thematic axes: Environment, Labour, and People and Society, and includes 130 artworks, 465 events (Mysteries) in 30 different city sites, and 17 different types of art by 192 Greek and 137 international artists from 30 countries.
The festival kicks off with Mystery_0: Mysteries of Transition, a two-day opening ceremony conceived by Eleusis 2023’s General Artistic Director Michail Marmarinos and directed by distinguished British director Chris Baldwin. Mystery_0’s agenda involves the arrival of processions from four distinct spots in Europe, the Attica region and the city of Eleusis itself. These will be joined by a fifth procession made up of the attendees. Together they will all gather at the city’s seafront, where to kick off the celebrations, a statue in the shape of a mythical creature will emerge from the sea, representing the journey from the underworld to this world.
Major highlights of the two-day opening ceremony involve the arrival of TimeCircus, the artistic collective from Antwerp, who aspire to land in Elefsina just in time for the opening ceremony, having walked (yes, walked) 3,000 km in nine months, as well as a one-off concert by beloved pioneering electronic duo Stereo Nova, who will be reuniting for the occasion. The first day is sealed off with late night DJ sets, exclusively hosted by women, at the warehouses of the Old Oil Mill Factory.
Click here for a selection of some of Eleusis 2023’s events that will be taking part throughout the year.