downtowngreenvillegirl











(Art, The Bard, Greeks, Great Scots & a little Caribbean Crush…)

It’s still May and despite some decidedly unseasonable weather last week, it’s still one of my favorite times to be Downtown! As the flowers bloom, so does Downtown and she shows off with a whirlwind of events that’ll get you out of your house and down on Main Street! This week’s blog highlights everyone’s favorite Arts festival, some works by the Bard, party with some cool Caribbean vibes, going Greek and a lot of guys in kilts!

To art lovers, Spring means one thing…ARTISPHERE! This weekend, our fair city will play host to this exuberant celebration of the visual and performing arts. Beginning with a fancy Opening Gala at Courtyard by Marriott and Nantucket Grill on Thursday, Artisphere launches into full swing on Friday, May 10th. Featuring not only exhibits from local and regional artisans, this arts extravaganza also spotlights performances from local musicians, theatre groups, dance troupes and other performing artists. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities also include Wine Tasting, Artists’ Demonstrations and Classes, as well as fun events for the kids at Kidsphere. And, since Sunday is Mothers’ Day, this event offers an excellent array of creative gift ideas for Mom. As always, restaurant vendors will be on hand to offer a variety of choices in food, beverage, beer and wine. Hours for this festival are noon -8PM on Friday, 10AM – 8PM on Saturday, and 11AM – 6PM on Sunday. There is no admission to this event held on Main Street and Broad near Falls Park. For more information, visit http://www.Artisphere.us.

Fans of all things flamingoes and flip-flops will LOVE the South Carolina Children’s Theatre’s Annual Fundraiser, Caribbean Crush! This laid-back event featuring Caribbean steel drums, fantastic food, beach drinks and a silent auction has been the talk of the town for the past 6 years. So, don your sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts and join the other Bermuda-shorted partiers at ZEN on Friday, May 17th. The festivities go into full swing at 7PM, with tickets still available for $50 and all proceeds benefitting the many wonderful programs for children and teens the SCCT has to offer. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.scchildrenstheatre.org.

The Greeks have known how to throw a party for thousands of years and Greenville’s Grecian community proudly carries on that tradition with their annual Greek Festival. For four fun-filled days (May 16 – 19), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 16th, you will be able to satisfy your cravings for souvlaki, gyros and all kinds of yummy Greek pastries as lunch and dinner will be served at the Hellenic Center. Don’t have time to sit down to eat? They have drive-thru service at the Elford Street entrance, so you can get a taste of Greece in minutes. The “glendi” (that’s Greek for party) really starts up on Friday, with an assortment of food, traditional Greek dance and live music. All that dancing will leave you exhausted, so be sure to stop by the Kafenion (Greek Coffee Shop) to recharge your batteries with a steaming cup of Greek coffee and a wedge of delicious baklava, before strolling through the Marketplace to view an assortment of Mediterranean wares. The festivities continue full swing through the weekend until Sunday evening. Hours are 10:30AM to 8PM (Dining only) Thursday, 10:30AM to 10PM Friday and Saturday, and 11:30AM to 8PM Sunday. Cost of admission is only $1. For more information, visit: http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

On Thursday, May 23, the Scots invade Downtown in true Highland fashion to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn (with guests, Smash the Radio and The Greenville Pipes & Drums) at Downtown Alive! Then on Friday evening, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. Starting at 6PM, the Parade, which grows larger each year, will feature pipe bands, Scottish military re-enactors, Highland themed floats, Scottish forest fairies and more tartans than you can shake a bagpipe at – all to get the weekend started Highland style! The Friday festivities will grow to a fevered pitch with a raucous “ceildh” (that’s Gaelic for party)at the Peace Center Amphitheatre, featuring the music of Rathkeltair and Albannach. Want to really release your inner Braveheart? Then join your fellow Gaelic enthusiasts at the 2013 Greenville Scottish Games at Furman on Saturday, May 25. Competition begins at 8AM with evnts such as caber-tossing and piping continuing all day. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste such Scottish delicacies as haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it) and to browse through the vendors’ tents featuring goods from the heathered isles. Once again, Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

If all the world is a stage, then the stage is definitely set for the Upstate Shakespeare Festival at Falls Park. Every Thursday – Sunday, beginning May 23, Downtown thespians and other fans of a fellow named Shakespeare, will have the chance to experience some of his finest works…with a twist. This season marks the 19th for the festival , which Southern Living has named one of the Best Summer events in the South and attracts over 18,000 each summer. The Festival kicks off with a modern retelling of the action-filled drama, Hamlet (which runs through June 15th) The next in the series, Comedy of Errors will open on July 11th and run through August 3rd. Performances begin at 7PM and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.warehousetheatre.com/upstate-shakespeare-festival.

So Downtownies…May is practically bursting with fun things to do in the DTGVL! So, why are you still sitting at your computer? Get yourself Downtown and enjoy all it has to offer! See you there!

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So, did the delectable food at Greenville’s Greek Festival last weekend leave you yearning for more?  Found yourself with an overwhelming urge for souvlaki, dolmades and baklava? Don’t despair, Downtown Greenville has a variety of restaurants serving Greek, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine to satisfy your every craving!

For more than 40 years, Never on Sunday has been a little piece of Athens (that’s Greece, not Georgia) in Downtown Greenville. The atmosphere is cozy and eclectic, rather like visiting Grandma’s house  –  if Grandma grew up near the Aegean.  A true “Mom & Pop”,  proprietors  Nick and Iris  make it their mission to give you a good home-cooked meal (Nick cooks, Iris serves it up with an indulgent smile). Regulars say the dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) are a must have…as well as their Greek salads with Nick’s delicious homemade dressing. Don’t leave without sampling their legendary Baklava – best eaten with your fingers to get every savory morsel. Make sure you request a jug of wine for that true Greek dining experience. Located at 210 East Coffee Street, Nick and Iris serve up lunch and dinner every day except…you guessed it…Sunday (& Monday). Prices are very affordable and although reservations are not required, weekends can get a little busy at dinner, so you may want to call ahead.

Greek marries Italian at Milano Kozani, a charming restaurant with plenty of Mediterranean romance.  Located at 12 South Main Street, this restaurant and its Italian trained chef, strive to bring diners the best in Italian cuisine from the region of Emilia Romagna. Try the Pollo Isabelle- grilled chicken breast  topped with fried goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and a white wine lemon cream sauce to die for…all served over olive oil sautéed spinach. Or, if you love Lasagna, try theirs either with meat or vegetarian, one of the House favorites. Can’t decide what to have? Then order their Greek or Italian Sampler Platter for a little bit of everything!  Add to this a supreme wine list that will make you think it was designed by the god of wine himself, and you have a meal that will have you feeling like you’ve gone to Mount Olympus! If you find yourself Downtown at lunchtime, then stop by for their Lunch Buffet, served Monday-Friday 11AM-2PM. At less than $10, you’ll be glad you did!

Speaking of Italian, Ristorante Bergamo brings a bit of Northern Italy to the heart of Greenville. A culinary cornerstone of Downtown for over 25 years, this destination of Italian foodies is named for Greenville’s sister city, Bergamo, Italy. Chef/owner and native Bergamasco, Nello Gioia has made his mark on our local restaurant scene with a menu that is a culinary work of art. A believer in the Slow Food method, this creative chef uses fresh, sustainable ingredients such as organic herbs grown in his own garden, Tuscan olive oil, heirloom vegetables grown regionally, Carnoli Rice  (the signature of his risotto dishes),  and polenta – the yellow corn meal staple often found in Bergamasca cooking.  Located in a primo spot at 100 North Main Street, Ristorante Bergamo offers fine dining in an intimate atmosphere, with lovely views of Downtown. Dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday and since the restaurant only seats 80 guests, reservations are strongly recommended.

Another Mediterranean restaurant with incredible views, but a more casual atmosphere is The Lazy Goat. This RiverPlace establishment offers an array of delectable dishes from Greece and Italy, with a culinary nod to the succulent flavors of Spain, Morocco and the Middle East.  While enjoying gorgeous views of the Reedy River from the dining room or the outdoor patio, diners can feast on such “made from scratch” delicacies as Pumpkin Tagliatelle – a crispy pancetta, served with braised greens, pine nut & sage brown butter, Braised Moroccan Lamb Shank – served with warm pita, cucumber yogurt and plantain chips, or Fried Goat Cheese sprinkled with pistachio dust and drizzled with honey (my personal favorite).  The bar selection’s not too shabby either – try the refreshing Easy Breeze Martini (Absolute Ruby Red Vodka, Cranberry Juice and Fresh Lime) or the decadent Godiva Truffletini (Godiva Dark Chocolate and Godiva White Chocolate Liquor, Stoli Vodka, in a Chocolate laced glass with a splash of milk). You may just decide to spend your Saturdays there, sipping drinks on the patio with friends while listening to live music – for time that is truly “well wasted”.

For a meal that is a step above the ordinary, try Pomegranate On Main. This upscale West End restaurant with its exotic décor and Persian-inspired delicacies will have you expecting to see Lawrence of Arabia walk in at any moment! With delectable offerings of kabobs, stews and, of course, hummus, your taste buds will be dancing with elation all night! Try the Chicken Torsh Kabob – generous chunks of lean chicken breast, marinated in a zesty Pomegranate sauce that’s both sweet and sour, mixed with walnuts and served with basmati cranberry rice – YUM! Vegetarians will love the Kashk Bademjan – sautéed eggplant and onion, topped with Persian cream of whey, crispy fried onion and mint, or the Vegetarian Fesenjan – a savory stew with sautéed Portobello mushrooms slow cooked in a finely ground walnut and Pomegranate sauce, served with basmati rice. For the ultimate dining experience, have your meal outside under the pergola, while sipping wine and people watching from its South Main location.

It is the diversity of restaurants such as these that continue to make Downtown Greenville a major culinary destination. From the cozy, home-like setting of Never on Sunday to the fine dining of Ristorante Bergamo to the laid-back casualness of The Lazy Goat, there is never a lack of good times centered around food in our fair city. SALUTE!

More…

Never On Sunday: 210 Coffee Street; 864-232-2252; Hours: Lunch-11:30 AM-2 PM Tuesday-Friday; Dinner – 5-9 PM Tuesday-Saturday

Milano Kozani: 12 South Main Street; 864-263-3561; www.milanokazani.com; Hours: Food served from 11AM -10PM, 7 days a week

Ristorante Bergamo: 100 North Main Street; 864- 271-8667; www.ristorantebergamo.com; Hours: Dinner – 5:30pm – 9:30PM, Tuesday-Saturday

The Lazy Goat: 170 RiverPlace; 864- 679-5299; www.thelazygoat.typepad.com; Hours: Open for lunch at 11AM & dinner at 5:00, Monday – Saturday

Pomegranate On Main: 618 South Main Street; 864-241-3012; www. pomegranateonmain.com; Hours: Lunch – 11:30AM to 2:30PM; Dinner – 5:30PM UNTIL-Monday-Friday; . Saturday 11:30AM UNTIL.



South Carolina has long been a melting pot for a variety of nationalities. Just take a stroll down Main Street and you are as likely to hear “Hola”, Bonjour” or “Gutentag” as you are “Hey Y’all”! When the temperatures rise in the Upstate, so do the number of festivals. May is no exception, giving you the opportunity to experience the cultures of West Africa, Greece and the Highlands of Scotland…all without leaving Greenville!

If “the Beat” means drumbeats, word beats or art and dance that will make your heart beat faster, the Emry’s Foundation has got the event for you. Members and non-members alike are invited  to The Kroc Center on Thursday, May 17th to enjoy a spectacular evening of West African cultre and Elements of Rhythm, Art and Verse. This collaborative event strives to demonstrate the many ways in which the written and spoken word unite all genres of art, and features inspiring artwork by April Harrison, impressive rhymes by Unifyed Sol poet, Robert Mullins, Jr (aka Moody Black), passionate African dance by Alisa Caldwell and her Elements of Rhythm dance company and heart-thumping drumbeats provided by the Spirit Beat Drummers. Festivities, which include a buffet style dinner, begin at 7PM and participants are encouraged to dress casually so that they may take part in the fun. Tickets are $25 for students and Kroc members, $35 for non-members and Emrys members are free. For more information on this event and other programs and events sponsored by the Emrys Foundation, visit: www.emrys.org.

The Greeks have known how to throw a party for thousands of years and Greenville’s Grecian community proudly carries on that tradition with their annual Greek Festival. For four fun-filled days (May 17 – 20), Greenville becomes “Greekville” as St. George Greek Orthodox Church becomes a sea of all things Greek. Beginning on Thursday, May 17th, you will be able to satisfy your cravings for souvlaki, gyros and all kinds of yummy Greek pastries as lunch and dinner will be served at the Hellenic Center. Don’t have time to sit down to eat? They have drive-thru service at the Elford Street entrance, so you can get a taste of Greece in minutes. The “glendi” (that’s Greek for party) really starts up on Friday, with an assortment of food, traditional Greek dance and live music. All that dancing will leave you exhausted, so be sure to stop by the Kafenion (Greek Coffee Shop) to recharge your batteries with a steaming cup of Greek coffee and a wedge of delicious baklava, before strolling through the Marketplace to view an assortment of Mediterranean wares.  The festivities continue full swing through the weekend until Sunday evening. Hours are 10:30AM to 8PM (Dining only) Thursday, 10:30AM to 10PM Friday and Saturday,  and 11:30AM to 8PM Sunday. Cost of admission is only $1. For more information, visit: www.stgeorgegreenville.org/GreekFestival.

Not many people have had the chance to see a Scottish Claymore up close…with the exception of some Romans, Vikings, English and anyone else unwise enough to venture into The Highlands uninvited. Visitors to this year’s Greenville Scottish Games will not only be treated to big guys in kilts tossing telephone poles (those are called cabers, BTW) but to demonstrations in sword fighting featuring the fearsome broadsword.  On Saturday, May 26th, the campus at Furman will play host to world-class athletes in 2012 Masters World Championships. On Sunday, amateurs will take the field to flex their muscles and compete in heavy athletics. Competition begins at 8AM both days. Feeling the urge to compete yourself? Then take part in the axe-throwing competiton, which is open to everyone. Afterwards, visit the food tents to taste that Scottish delicacy, haggis (trust me, you really DON’T want to know what’s in it).

Are you more of a lover than a fighter? Take the kids to run amuck in Wee Scotland. Then venture over to the Highland Dancers stage, the British Car Show, to the vendors tents, the Border Collie herding competition or over to the Entertainment tent for some righteous Celtic rock.  If you are lucky, you’ll happen upon a lone piper, preparing for the Piping competition. Speaking of rock, the festivities start Thursday, May 24th as the Scots, in true Highland fashion, invade Downtown Alive, to rock out to the music of the Celtic band, Cleghorn and again on  Friday, May 25th, at Main Street Friday to party to the tunes of Coyote Run and Albannach. At 6PM on Friday, Downtown will be awash in plaid as kilted revelers stroll down Main Street in the Great Scot Parade. The Parade, which grows larger each year,  will feature pipe bands, Scottish military re-enactors, Highland themed floats, Scottish forest fairies and more tartans than you can shake a bagpipe at – all to get the weekend started Highland style! Saturday’s events will wind down with a rockin’ ceildh (that’s Gaelic for party) of a Celtic Jam. For an events schedule, to order tickets and for more information on the Scottish Games, visit: http://gallabrae.com.

As you see, Downtown Greenville offers many opportunities to experience a different culture…no passport required! So dance to African drumbeats, stuff yourself with baklava or release your inner Braveheart! You’ll be all the richer for the experience!



When the days get longer and the temps warm up, Downtown Greenville “springs” into action with a flurry of great outdoor events. Everything from outdoor concerts and movie screenings, to farmer’s markets and festivals…DTGVL has a little something for everyone!  And the best thing? Most of them are FREE! So, round up your family and friends and head Downtown for a little fun in the sun!

March kicks things off with two of Downtown’s favorite concert events: Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays. Chosen as one of the Best Places to Hear Free Live Music by fans of the Downtown Greenville, SC Facebook Page, Downtown Alive takes place every Thursday around 5:30PM at the Hyatt Plaza. Featuring some of the best musical talent the Upstate (and beyond) has to offer, this year’s concert series starts March 15th with a performance by local favorite, Kelly Jo Connect.  Not to be outdone, Main Street Fridays (which shares DTA’s Main Street venue and 5:30 timeslot), gets Downtown groovin’ on March 16th with the sweet funky sounds of Chocolate Thunder.  These free concerts continue until late August / September and are the music lover’s ritual that signals the start of the weekend.

April sees not only the continuation of DTA & MSF, but also Greenville’s very first International Film Festival. The goal of this multi-day event is to unite film enthusiasts and filmmakers from around the world to display the power of visual storytelling, creative excellence, and imagination of independent filmmaking. The event begins April 25th and continues until the 28th. Several Downtown locations will share hosting duties including Coffee Underground, ZEN, Centre Stage and The Kroc Center. Martial Arts and Eastern philosophy enthusiasts may enjoy taking part in World Tai Chi and Qigong Day on April 28th. This special event, held at Falls Park, will celebrate, demonstrate and educate the public on Tai Chi and Qigong. If your life’s philosophy includes BBQ, then you will not want to miss Project Host’s BBQ Festival on April 27th and 28th. Pulled pork aficionados will gather on Broad Street for a fun-filled festival with entertainment, crafts, cooking competitions and best of all…BBQ! Be sure to bring your appetite!

DTGVL’s calendar really revs up in May with a smorgasbord of fun! The merriment begins May 2 with Moonlight Movies. Featuring everything from family favorites like “The Muppet Movie” to nostalgic cinema classics such as “An American in Paris”, everyone from Grandma to the kids will find a film they like. Screenings take place every Wednesday in May around 8PM and due to the construction at The Peace Center, will happen in a new Falls Park location this year. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcomed (and fun), but like most City-sponsored events, pets are prohibited.

The first weekend in May will also see the return of the Saturday Market. This outdoor farmers’ market, features locally grown, farm-fresh foods as well as locally grown crafts, and begins May 5th at its long-time location on Court Street. Like the name implies, The Saturday Market takes place every Saturday from 8AM until noon and will run until October. Also taking place Downtown on May 5th is The Reedy River Rubber Duck Derby. This delightful annual event, featuring a river full of cute, little yellow rubber duckies, benefits local charities.

Thespians will be thrilled with two sophisticated events occurring in the month of May. Artisphere, one of Downtown Greenville’s premier festivals, takes place the weekend of the 11th through the 13th. Featuring the works of visual artists from all over the country, this art fest is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Although the artwork is the highlight of this event, festival goers can enjoy a diverse selection of food and beverage and as well as experience the musical talents of local bands performing on a number of stages. Fans of the Bard will be happy to hear that Shakespeare in the Park will be starting up again on May 24th. Every Thursday – Sunday evening, Falls Park will play host to the enchanting works of William Shakespeare (with a modern twist) performed by a troupe of talented actors.  Audience participation is welcomed and very much encouraged.

If you’re looking for entertainment with an ethnic flavor, May offers two fun-filled festivals featuring the cultures of Greece and Scotland. Craving baklava? Then head over to St. George Greek Orthodox Church May 17th through 20th for the Greenville Greek Festival. Don’t miss this chance  to experience everything Greek with Greenville’s Greek Community! Mad for plaid? Then Greenville’s Scottish Games are just the thing that’ll make your kilt twirl! Starting with the Great Scot Parade down Main Street and ceilidh (that’s Gaelic for party) on May 25th, the good times continue with The Games at Furman on the 26th.

In recent years, Greenville has become a mecca for cyclists and cycle enthusiasts. Once again, Downtown Greenville will place host to USA Cycling Pro Championship Road Race on the 28th, with time trials taking place on the 26th. Some streets along the race route may be temporarily closed or blocked off on the day of the race.

So, you see, there is absolutely no excuse to sit at home on the beautiful Spring days for which our area is famous. Call your friends, grab your sunglasses and head Downtown to savor all that Greenville has to offer! See you there!



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