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Women's international festival draws hundreds to Lesvos

- by Dabs Banner

Two-week beach festival for women kicks off this month to celebrate gay culture.

More than 1,000 women are expected to flock to a two week festival on Lesvos later this month when the International Eressos Women's Festival 2014 gets underway.

First created by local travel firm Sappho Travel in 2000, the event has grown each year at the gay-friendly beach resort of Skala Eressos on the south-western coast of the island.

The festival celebrates the women's history, culture, achievements and diversity and it runs from September 6 for two weeks.

It features live music, dance parties, open-air movies, fashion shows and art exhibitions as well as beach activities and watersports, workshops, excursions, and many other activities.

The festival website says: "All women are welcome, included and celebrated here, regardless of their race, age, interests, or sexuality. It is an opportunity for women from all over the world to join in social and creative activities, to make new friends, to network, to learn new skills and share talents, to enjoy a taste of Greek culture, and to simply have a great time."

The International Eressos Women's Festival is a non-profit making event and this year's event kicks off on Saturday 6 September at the open-air stage of Skala Eressos' sandy beach.

Lesvos has been attracting holidaymakers since the 1970's and the island's association with the seventh century Greek poet Sappho has helped promote it as a gay-friendly holiday destination.

The nearby village of Eressos was the birthplace of Sappho who wrote about her love for women in stories and poetry and is generally accepted as the first widely-known lesbian writer.

The annual September festival attracts women from all over the world and they make up almost all of the visitors to Eressos in the late season, giving a major boost to the local economy.

A festival organiser said: "Whether you are a newcomer to this beautiful island, or have made Lesvos your holiday place many times before, whether you are on a single's holiday, or here with your partner, friends or family, Sappho Women always aims to offer a diverse and inspiring program of events, that appeals to everyone visiting Skala Eressos."

Skala Eressos has also become increasingly popular as a family resort and a firm favourite of honeymooning couples thanks to a long, sandy and beautiful beach lined with tamarisk shaded tavernas.

The beach resort has car-free streets and an attractive central square. A small harbour is full of fishing boats as the gulf is known throughout Greece for its sardines.

Near the resort is a large spring-fed lake teeming with wildlife including storks and turtles. The lake, along with the associated wetlands make Skala Eressos is a major centre for bird watching while the flat plains that lie behind the Lesvos resort are ideal for cycling and horse riding.