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The Sani Festival had its official beginning in 1993, intended as a bridge between tourism and the arts, forging links between local and foreign visitors, contributing to a richer cultural sector with more activity in the regions, and becoming a festival with its own distinctive character and identity.

Setting the highest standards of quality and innovation, the festival has introduced a range of programmes that have established themselves as regular events: Jazz on the Hill, Sounds of the World, concerts of Greek music, Sani Classic, dance performances and visual arts event. The first Jazz on the Hill was staged at the Sani Resort back in 1992 – a three-day programme of jazz music. Back then the festival was a much smaller affair – just a few concerts reflecting the organizers’ passion for jazz music.

Sixteen years on, Jazz on the Hill – a three-day celebration of ‘black’ music held in early July - can look back proudly on concerts by some of the living legends of the jazz world, featuring artists of the calibre of Jan Garbarek in 1995, Cassandra Wilson in 1998, Dee Dee Bridgewater in 2000, Chico Freeman in 2003 and Charlie Haden in 2005. The organizers’ love of jazz music has made Jazz on the Hill an important event in the international music calendar, and the only international jazz music festival in Greece to have established itself as a permanent fixture.


The programme of music from all around the world offers living proof that the Sani Festival is evolving and opening its doors to different kinds of music, enriching the overall range of music it offers to its audience.  After numerous successful concerts and groundbreaking ethnic music events over recent years – featuring such names as Cesaria Evora, Tito Puente, Dulce Pontes, Lila Downs, Teofilo Chandre, Petru Guelfucci and Eliades Ochoa – it was decided to formally introduce a separate programme dedicated entirely to the fascinating genre of world music. And thus the three-day programme Sounds of the World was born.

Music on Film vs Film on Music

Summer 2009 the 17th Sani Festival incorporated into its programme a new series of events under the title Music on Film vs. Film on Music. It is hoped that a cinematic programme will in future become a permanent feature of the festival.  This is not the first time the Sani Festival has flirted with the world of film. As part of our Jazz on the Hill programme we introduced a cine-concert, screening a documentary on the life of the musician Abdullah Ibrahim before the artist himself performed a concert. All that was required was for the opportunity to present itself for a broader collaboration, and finally this year the Sani Festival brought together music and the magic of cinema in a three-day tribute to the famous French composer Michel Legrand. Events included screenings of films with scores by Legrand and a concert by the musician and his trio, accompanied by the high priestess of pop Alison Moyet, performing some of his best-loved hits. Variations


From 1993 to today, great Greek artists parade on the Sani Festival stage, leaving bits of their aura behind. Stavros Ksarhakos, Eleni Karaindrou, Giorgos Dalaras, Alkistis Protopsalti, Haroula Alexiou, Loukianos Kilaidonis, Dimitra Galani, Dionisis Savopoulos are just some of the most eminent personalities of the Greek music spectrum that gave - and still give - their gleam and inspiration in the Greek part of Sani Festival. A section applauded both by the public and media, as the artists themselves, who honour one of the most potent Greek cultural productions.


This section aspires to constitute a broad action field dedicated to youth musical pursuits, at a time when young people should step out and claim artistic outlets and opportunities. The goal is the emergence of their work and the contribution in creating their own audience.


The new section of Sani Festival, Avant Garde Theatre, was introduced by the need of bridging the artistic gap which lies within the contemporary theatrical creation and the satisfaction of  the pursuits of its public, interested in this kind of art. Its main objective is the promotion of new theatrical powers and the emergence of the modern theatrical look at the drama and touch of artists.


 Cinema returns to the Sani Festival this year with a two-day tribute to the best short films receiving international awards, presented in collaboration with the Thessaloniki International Short Film Festival.


The third, traditional part of Sani Festival, after Jazz on the Hill and Sounds of the World, is Sani Classic. It is dedicated to classical music and offers a chance to young, talented Greek musicians to perform. These chamber music concerts begin late August and are completed at the start of September. They are held at Cine Orfeas of Sani Resort and are open to the public, without an entrance fee.