The Paxos Festival is an annual event on the Greek island of Paxos. This relatively small island is located in the Ionian Sea and can only be reaching by boat, meaning that most artists and visitors fly to Corfu and then take a ferry to Paxos. This shared adventure makes the Paxos Festival a special event and a favourite of many festival-goers.
History of the Paxos Music Festival
The Paxos Festival is creating by long-time resident John Gough. John had a house on Paxos, an island he had loved for many years. Another passion of his was classical music. In the summer of 1986, John invited musicians to play under the olive trees in his garden. The performances of the Mistry Quartet, who were studying at the Guildhall at the time, were such a success that the following year a festival was born.
Each edition brought artists, locals, and visitors closer together. John began to receive support and sponsorship from businesses, institutions, and private individuals, which made it possible that the Paxos Music Festival, as it was known at the time, retained its free admission.
The Paxos Music Festival focused on bringing music students and teachers together in what resembled a summer camp for musicians. In fact, for many professional musicians in the region, participating in the Paxos Festival meant a unique formative experience and an honour that recognized their talent.
More than music
The festival’s long-time resident artists, such as pianist Julian Jacobsen and violinist Jagdish Mistry, are testament to the festival’s focus on classical music. However, over the years the festival has expanded into other music styles and even into additional art forms.
Nowadays, the festival organises not only concerts, but also literary presentations, cultural walks, and art exhibitions. Whereas the first editions were held in September, the programme is nowadays so extensive that events are held throughout the summer. Some editions even ran from May till September.
With its roots in local back gardens, the Paxos Festival has always interwoven with the daily lives of the island’s residents. But as the festival grew, both in size and in duration, it was clear that different venues are required. From gardens, the concerts shifted to discos like Phoenix and Aloni. Nowadays, the festival is held at various Paxos venues simultaneously, both indoors and out in the open air.
The old schoolhouse in Loggos is one of the festival’s favourite venues. In this old elementary school, classical and contemporary music is playing. It has also been host to art exhibitions. Its location at the end of the waterfront makes it suitable for outdoor concerts and markets, too.
The old customs house in Loggos is another venue. This recently renovate building is situating at the end of the pier, an easy walk from anywhere in town. Here, you can expect to find art exhibitions from Greek and foreign artists.
The schoolyard in Loggos is another place where festival events are held. The new school building has a big enough yard for concerts and art workshops.
Lakka’s old school is beautifully situated on the waterfront, with sweeping views of Lakka’s natural bay. In the past, this building has hosted mainly concerts.
While the festival’s founder, John Gough, passed away in 2006. His legacy has been kept alive by musicians and friends of John’s. The Paxos Festival Trust, consisting of individuals like the Herdman couple, Roger Blears, Ivana Jenkins, Miles Stockwell, John Whiteman, Nada Geroulanos, and many others, kept the festival going year after year.
In 2015, the non-profit association Friends of Paxos (FoP) succeeded the Paxos Festival Trust. The festival has kept growing throughout the years, bringing visitors to the island, many of whom return every year to experience the concerts and exhibitions, while enjoying
For the Paxos Festival, this was no different, meaning the cancellation of most 2020 and 2021 plans. The Paxos Festival will return bigger and better in the near future.
Where to stay?
Whereas in the early days the Paxos Festival are hold in the month of September. Nowadays, the events programme is string out over various months. This means that visitors will have a greater choice of vacant accommodation for their chosen period. However, it is still advisable to book in advance, especially since the best hotel rooms and holiday villas on Paxos are the first to fill up.
One of those favourite accommodations on Paxos is such as Glyfada Beach Villas & Restaurant. With direct access to two white pebbly beaches, its own taverna, and various types of villas in Paxos. By self-catering, you don’t have to be back by a certain time for lunch or dinner, and you can enjoy the festival events at your own pace.