The city's primary artistic event (formerly known as the Hellenic Festival) runs from June through August at a dozen venues, including the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus in the Acropolis. The festival has showcased performers such as Norah Jones, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Luciano Pavarotti, and Diana Ross; such dance troupes as the Royal London Ballet, the Joaquin Cortes Ballet, and Maurice Béjart; symphony orchestras; and local groups performing ancient Greek drama. Usually
a major world premiere is staged during the festival. Starting in 2006, creative director Yiorgos Loukos rejuvenated the festival, adding more youthful venues and bringing a wider gamut of performances, including world musicians, modern dance, and multimedia artists. The Odeon theater makes a delightful backdrop, with the floodlighted Acropolis looming behind the audience and the Roman arches behind the performers. The upper-level seats have no cushions, so bring something to sit on, and wear low shoes, since the marble steps are steep. For viewing most performances, the Gamma zone is the best seat choice. Tickets go on sale three weeks before performances but sell out quickly for popular shows; they are available from the festival box office in Syntagma Square, at the box office outside the Odeon theater, and at major bookshops in Athens (for a full list, check the website). Prices range from €15 to as high as €120 for the big names; student and youth discounts are available.