UK Cypriot community celebrates the Cyprus Wine Festival
Thousands of visitors descended onto Alexandra Palace over the weekend to celebrate Parikiaki’s Cyprus Wine Festival & Business Exhibition, the London Cypriot community’s biggest annual event.
Throughout the two-day extravaganza, Cypriots from all over London and further afield, as well as hundreds of non-Cypriots, were able to experience all things Cypriot – from soutziouko and Keo beer to souvlakia and Commandaria!
The festival was officially opened on the Saturday by Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry & Tourism, Mr Neoklis Syllikiotis.
Addressing the audience, Syllikiotis pointed out that the Cyprus Wine Festival is considered one of the biggest annual events for Cypriots abroad and is proof of their effort “to keep Cypriot traditions and culture alive” and to “maintain strong bonds” with their homeland.
He added that the festival also gives visitors the opportunity to sample “some of our excellent varieties of wine.” Furthermore, he said that the Cypriot government, through funding, has helped towards the modernization of the wine industry on the island so that they are able to produce this variety and achieve maximum quality.
“The progress achieved is confirmed from the numerous international awards secured by Cypriot wines and Commandaria in foreign markets,” said Syllikiotis, “helping put Cyprus on the wine production map and attracting tourists to the island.”
According to the Minister, the UK remains the most important touristic market for Cyprus despite the economic crisis, representing in the last year 43% of the total tourist arrivals in Cyprus.
Regarding the recent discovery of natural gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, Syllikiotis said that this development is encouraging for Cypriot economy. “The government’s energy policy will attract international investments with multiple gains for our people,” he said, adding that “it could help in the reunification process of our island.”
Concluding, Syllikiotis congratulated Parikiaki for its contribution to the Cypriot community in London and wished visitors an enjoyable weekend.
Speeches were also made by His Eminence Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain Gregorios, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Peter Droussiotis, Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Alecos Orondiotis, Representative of Limassol Municipality Kleonas Alexandrou, Member of the Secretariat & Political Bureau of the Central Committee of AKEL Yiannakis Kolocassides, Member of the Executive Board of the Wine Products Council Edward Hadjihannas, and Parikiaki’s Managing Director Mr Bambos Charalambous.
On behalf of our newspaper, Mr Charalambous welcomed guests “to the biggest and unique Cypriot Community Wine Festival and Business Exhibition in Britain, which has been organised by our community newspaper for the past 29 years.”
He extended a special welcome to the distinguished guests which also included Cyprus High Commissioner Alexandros Zenon, Consul General George Georgiou, Cultural Counsellor Kypros Charalambous, Trade Attaché George Argyris, MPs Theresa Villiers and David Burrowes, Presidents or Representatives of the Cypriot Political Parties’ UK branches: Andreas Papaevripides (DISY), and Michalis Kashis (EDEK), and councillors from the London boroughs: George Savva, Andreas Ioannides, Andrew Dismore and George Pippas.
A special welcome was also extended to the festival’s team of volunteers as well as to “our Turkish-Cypriot compatriots for their presence every year at the Wine Festival.”
“By being here today,” said Mr Charalambous, “You express your solidarity for our common struggle for a United Cyprus where Turkish and Greek Cypriots can live together….your presence is well appreciated and warmly welcomed by our readers and friends.”
Mr Charalambous continued, “We hope you will enjoy our traditional event; a tradition that goes back many years, to the time when the making of wine was an exceptional occasion enjoyed by people of all classes in our small but beautiful island…I believe I am speaking to people who are very familiar with the history of Cyprus and its exceptional ability to produce the finest wines, perhaps in the world.”
He expressed gratitude “to all the friends who have supported our paper Parikiaki, for their help in our struggle to unite our country Cyprus, in order to implement Human Rights for all Cypriots and to achieve a Free, United, Federal, Demilitarised Cyprus for all Cypriots.”
“We yet again, express our full support to President Demetris Christofias for all his dedicated work and efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, for the benefit of all its citizens – Greek, Turkish, Maronite, Armenian and Latin,” Mr Charalambous added.
“Enjoy the rest of the day, the entertainment and of course, sample our traditional food and quality Cypriot wine,” he concluded.
Keti Garbi entertains the crowd
Headlining this year’s music line-up was Greek singing sensation Keti Garbi, who wowed visitors with hits spanning her 20 year career.
Giving an outstanding performance before the hundreds of spectators, Keti performed a selection of her most renowned songs including Pesto M’ena Fili, Xipoliti Horevo, Ti Theloune Ta Matia Sou, Nai Iparho Ego, Doro Theou, Eho Sta Matia Ourano and many, many more, as well as classic Greek hits made famous by other artists.
On the Sunday, Keti’s performance concluded with her husband, singer Dionysis Shinas, joining her on stage for a public display of affection! Shinas, well known for 90s hits such as An M’agapas and Ti Trella Mou Zitas, performed Stelios Kazantzides’ To Mertiko Mou Ap’ti Hara, with Andy Constantinou of Show Production Ltd dancing a zeimbekiko.
Plenty of entertainment
Present throughout the weekend was the Gregoris Ashiotis dance group who came from Cyprus especially for the event and performed traditional Cypriot dances, our talented community singers: Katerina Neocleous, Lucy Sofroniou, Andreas, Tilly P, Andrew Hubbard, George Yerasimos and his band, not forgetting Cypriot choir E Foni Tis Kerynias.
Cypriot dances were also performed by Kingsbury, St. Panteleimon and Hazelwood Greek Schools, and from Andreas Frangeskides’ dance group.
A massive thank you to the host George Michaelides who made sure the entertainment programme run smoothly throughout the weekend and to DJ Chris Theocharous who kept the crowd going with the very best in Greek and English music.
Alexandra Palace’s Great Hall was filled with companies promoting their businesses and products.
On the exhibition side, we had Cyprus Airways, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Cyprus Trade Centre, CYTA UK, Varosi Lettings & Estates, the Metropolitan Police Greek Staff Association, the Greek Business Directory, Bounty Bonus Ltd, White Avenue, Paul Alexander, Laiki Bank UK,
Service for Overseas Cypriots, Levenes Solicitors, Ideal Homes, Elite Mortgage Finance, ANT1 Europe, Hellenic TV, Greek Cypriots Worldwide Directory, Lobby for Cyprus, Good Looking Optics, and many many others.
Aroma Patisserie was there to provide us with delicious Cypriot delicacies, KLN F.C and Aradippou Association with their tasty sandwiches, the Cypriot Community Centre provided the finger licking kleftiko, and Salamina F.C were constantly serving hot pittas of souvlakia! And the festival would not have been complete without the Panairgotika stand where visitors could purchase soutziouko, pastelaki, lokoumia, mantoles and all the other delicious Cypriot sweets, Marathon Foods where olive oil, halloumia, trahana, marmalade and other Cypriot products were available, and the wine tasting stand where quality Cypriot wine could be sampled by visitors.
Stalls displayed various interesting things to buy including gorgeous jewellery by Bling Bling, Angelic Creations, Yiannis Croussis, and Diamonte Decor, homeware by Sincerity Gifts, children’s hampers and toys by Pure Giftz, nuts and sweets from Buzz Ltd, tasty cupcakes by Molly Bakes and Cakes by Soulla, religious icons by To Perivoli Ton Agion, and many others items including clothes, vintage bags, soft toys, and even baby foot and hand casting by Tiny Casts.
A massive thank you
Parikiaki would like to thank the festival’s sponsors and supporters: Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Cyprus Trade Centre, Ministry of Education & Culture, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, Service for Overseas & Repatriated Cypriots,
Laiki Bank UK, The Ability Group, ARGO Investment Management Company, Capital Homes, Euro Stars Housing & Accommodation, CYTA UK Ltd, C. Michael & Co Chartered Accountants, Bank of Cyprus UK, P&S Carton Industries Ltd, NN (Accountancy Services) Ltd, Cyprus Airways, Smart Housing Group, Demetriou & English, Star Estates & Lettings, Newsfax, and Tasos Erotokritou.
Photos: Peter Pentayiotis, Stelios Theodorou, Gokay & Costas Christodoulou