Each year, Glendi — Greek for “good times” — welcomes around 40,000 visitors to the grounds of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Hanover Street in Manchester.
It runs this year from Friday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 14.
“They’ve been, they’ve loved it, they come back, they bring their friends,” St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral President and Glendi chair Nikki Moutsioulis said. “There’s ‘Glendi time’ — that’s how we operate. And now we’re in Glendi crunch time.”
The festival is known for its Greek culture, music and dance and, of course, its Greek food. Cooking for Glendi starts in late June, but other menu items are made closer to the festival if they don’t freeze well.
“The last two things that we make — our pastichio and galatoboureko — they are the first things to go,” Moutsioulis said.
Pastichio is a dish almost like lasagna, baked with layers of macaroni and meat with creamy cheese sauce, and galatoboureko is a pastry made with Greek custard between layers of flaky phyllo dough.
“They are tried and true recipes,” Moutsioulis said. “They’re the recipes that our yayas had and were passed down to our moms, and are passed down to our children. We try something new on occasion, and if it’s a hit, we stick with it.”
Other menu items include stuffed peppers with rice, meat and tomato sauce, Greek meatballs, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), chicken and barbecue lamb dinners, baked lamb shank dinners and spinach pita. All the savory dishes and dinners can be found in the food tent in front of the church.
For the sweets, head inside the church’s community center for pastries like the galatoboureko, flogeres (rolled layers of phyllo with chopped walnut filling, coated in butter and honey syrup), kataifi (shredded phyllo with walnuts and syrup), koulourakia (Greek butter cookies), baklava, finikia (honey-dipped cookies with walnuts), ravani (cake made with farina and soaked in syrup), kourambiethes (buttered cookies dusted with powdered sugar) and loukoumades (little puffs of fried dough soaked in syrup and served with cinnamon and powdered sugar).
“People stand in line for the loukoumades,” Moutsioulis said. “It’s like Munchkins with a twist. They’re lighter, they put the syrup on it and it’s delicious.”
If you have your fill of Greek eats but want more, you can get a box to bring dinner items and pastries home.
In addition to the food, there’s an Aegean Market, with Greek imports and handmade items, gifts and holiday crafts. Check out the cooking demonstration, the balloon animals and hats and the kids’ area.
Saturday is the night to check out live music and dancing. The Boston Lykeion Ellinidon Dance Troupe will perform at 4:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m., and Kostas Taslis and his Orchestra will provide live music Saturday night. DJ Meleti, originally from Manchester himself, will provide tunes throughout the weekend.
New to this year’s Glendi will be a NASCAR race car for festival attendees to check out and enter a contest for an opportunity to drive the racecar or get a lift to work.
Admission to the festival is free, but bring money for food and gifts. There’s an ATM on site, and debit and credit cards are also accepted. Parking is free, but it may be tricky to find a spot during peak hours. A free shuttle service goes back and forth from Glendi to McDonough Elementary School, at 550 Lowell St., Manchester.
“Before you leave you should definitely eat from the food tent, because that’s where all the dinners are. Don’t miss the pastries, which are in the community center. If time allows, come join us on a church tour so you can learn about our faith. And stay and sing and dance with us,” Moutsioulis said. “Glendi means ‘good times,’ so let’s have some good times.”