The festivals in Greece are well-maintained festivals which attract many visitors throughout the year, the festivals focus on music, dance, food, films, and a lot more. Greece is not just about roman artifacts and ancient monuments, or the beaches. Greek culture is energetic and exciting, and visiting the country during any festival is the perfect way to get a snapshot of this. Greek festivals, in fact, are not only religious. There are numerous music, theater, craft, and dance programs that take place all year round.
With so much Greek mythology impacting its society, it’s no wonder that the epics are also related to some of the Greek events here. Other events that give a burst of excitement are marathons, movie festivals, and the carnival as well.
Some of the popular festivals in Greece as follow:
|S.No||Month||Festival||How is it Celebrated?|
|1||January||New Year’s Day||Celebrated by cutting sweet bread.|
|2||January||The Epiphany||Celebrated with a feast and dropping a cross into the water.|
|3||February-March||The Carnival||Celebrated with Carnival parades and parties.|
|4||March||Feast of the Annunciation||Celebrated with military parades.|
|5||March||Easter||Celebrated with fireworks and a bowl of special soup.|
|6||April||The Feast of Saint George||Celebrated with lots of festivities.|
|7||May/June||The Day of the Holy Spirit||Celebrated with lots of events and activities.|
|8||June-September||Athens Open Air Film Festival||Celebrated with film screenings, concerts, and other activities.|
|9||June||Rockwave Festival||Celebrated with rock concerts.|
|10||July-August||Athens Epidaurus Festival||Celebrated with contemporary theatre, ancient drama, dance, opera, jazz, classical music concerts, and art exhibitions.|
|11||July||Kalamata Dance Festival||Celebrated with dance performances from various dancers.|
|12||July-September||Sani Festival||Celebrated with wine tastings, workshops, music concerts, dance performances, and painting exhibitions.|
|13||July – August||Naxos Festival||Celebrated with musical concerts, theatre performances, art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops on art.|
|14||August||Megaro Gyzi Festival||Celebrated with music concerts, exhibitions, art shows, and seminars.|
|15||August||The Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary||Celebrated with great pilgrimages.|
|16||August||Kastoria River Party||Celebrated with music performances.|
|17||September||Aegina Fistiki Fest||Celebrated with cookery competitions, music concerts, and various kinds of activities for the kids.|
|18||October||Kalymnos Diving/Climbing Festival||Celebrated with workshops, Greek dance lessons, day trips, and music performances.|
|19||November||Thessaloniki International Film Festival||Celebrated with the screenings.|
|20||December||Christmas||Celebrated with carols and other festivities.|
New Year’s Day
The first of January is the Feast of Agios Vassilis (Santa Claus in Greece is Saint Basil), observed with church services. On that day, all the Greek families cut the vasilopita, sweet bread with a coin inside. People believe that the coin brings good luck to its finder all over the year. The first of January is also the day when the children are given Christmas gifts.
This is the feast of Agia Theofania, or Fota, marking the day when the ‘kallikantzaroi’ that came into sight during Christmas are re-exiled to the netherworld by the church’s rites. Waters are blessed during Epiphany, and evil spirits are expelled. The priests drop a cross into the water at Lakeside, seaside, or riverfront locations and young people swim to battle for the honor and blessing of finding it.
In Greek, the Carnival is called “Apokries,” and is represented by three weeks of feasting and dancing. The Carnival is held three weeks before Lent Monday. The significant Carnival parades take place with delightful parties in places like Patra, Xanthi, Corfu Island, and Rethymno. The specific dates of the Carnival differ depending on Easter. The Carnival completes seven weeks before Easter.
Feast of the Annunciation
The Christians celebrate the day when Angel Gabriel revealed the incarnation of Christ to Mary. This day correlates with a National Holiday in Greece, the day when the Greeks announced the Civil War against the Turks in March 1821. So, there are military parades that day in all Greek cities.
Easter is one of the most prominent festivals in Greece and is celebrated grandly by the Orthodox Church. It begins seven weeks before Easter Sunday and gets to its summit the Holy Week. This is when the churches hold Services every evening. A remarkable ceremony is held on Good Friday when all the flowered tombs of Christ (named Epitaphios) are assembled in the squares and make the tour of the cities.
On Good Saturday at midnight, the worshippers go to church to get a hold of the Holy Light. Exactly at midnight the priest arrives carrying a lighted torch and spreading the Holy Flame on the candles of worshippers who stand beside him. The worshippers then share the Holy Light with their nearby neighbors at their turn, until the whole church and the courtyard get it. It is a wonderful sight to see.
Then people blow up fireworks in the streets. Worshippers take the burning candles to their homes. They make the sign of a cross above their door with the black smoke of the flame. This ritual is intended to bring good luck to them. After midnight, people prepare ‘magiritsa’ a soup made from lamb, rice, dill, and lemon. The soup is then shared among the family and friends. On Sunday morning, a great feast is followed by wine and dance.
The Feast of Saint George
The feast honors the Knight who defeated the Dragon. Saint George is the patron saint of shepherds and they coordinate festivals around the country. Great celebrations also take place in Arachova, Skiathos island, Skyros island, and in other Greek cities, where Saint George is regarded as their patron. The Arachova Festivities last for three days. Also, lots of festivities take place.
The Day of the Holy Spirit
The festival continues forty-five days after Easter. It celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit offered the Apostles, and told them to preach the world Christianity. The day is celebrated with lots of lots of events and activities.
Athens Epidaurus Festival
Every summer, the Athens Epidaurus Greek Festival is held and involves numerous performances such as contemporary theatre, ancient drama, dance, opera, jazz, classical music concerts, and art exhibitions. The activities are performed in various theatres throughout Athens and in the Epidaurus Ancient Theatre. The highlight of this festival is, in fact, the ancient drama performances seen during the summer weekends.
Athens Open Air Film Festival
The Athens Open Air Film Festival is the summer film event, where screenings take place around Athens at different landmarks and unusual places. Squares, pedestrian areas, and parks turn into movie theatres and welcome tourists for free film screenings, concerts, and other activities. One of the most fun-filled festivals in Greece runs annually and is an opportunity to see Athens from a fresh perspective.
One of the chief music festivals in Greece, the Rockwave Festival is held every June and welcomes bands and musicians from around the world. The rock concerts are hosted in Malakasa’s Rockwave Scene, about 40 km north of Athens. The festival lasts three days, and the concerts are conducted during the day, from morning to midnight.
Kalamata Dance Festival
The dance festival is one of the most wonderful festivals in Greece which embraces modern dance and art lovers. Every July, the humble town of Kalamata, in Peloponnese, hosts an annual dance festival, where dancers and dance groups from around the world come together to share their passion with travelers. This is your opportunity to find this unique event and even visit the locale.
Sani is one of the best gourmet festivals in Greece and is exclusively for foodies. The best chefs from Greece and from other countries join the festival to prepare excellent dishes. It lasts for ten days. Along with wine tastings, workshops, music concerts, dance performances, and painting exhibitions are held in various places.
The Naxos Festival is held in Bazeos Tower, on the island of Naxos every July and August. The musical concerts, theatre performances, art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops on art are the highlights of this festival.
Megaro Gyzi Festival
The Megaro Gyzi festival is celebrated every August on the island of Santorini. It comprises music concerts, exhibitions, art shows, and seminars that take place at the Megaro Gyzi Cultural Centre in Fira Santorini.
The Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
The feast marks the ascent of Mary to Heaven. Great pilgrimages take place in all parts of Greece, particularly Tinos Island, Paros Island, and Patmos Island. Virgin Mary is the guardian of the entire nation and there are several chapels in Greece dedicated to her.
Kastoria River Party
If you love camping and partying then you are in the right place. River Party takes place at the Nestorio River, near Kastoria, every year. Be prepared to enjoy music from Greek artists and a few from overseas during a party-like event for five days. Enjoy the Greek way of summer, with music, activities, camping, and relaxing river dips so pack your swimsuit when you plan your trip.
Aegina Fistiki Fest
The Aegina Fistiki Festival is one of the most famous festivals in Greece that celebrates the new harvest of the island’s most popular crop, pistachio. This four-day festival, taking place on the coastline of the town of Egina, is a rare opportunity for both locals and tourists to sample different forms of local pistachio in many recipes, such as nougat, traditional sweets, or pastry sweets with syrup. There are several similar events arranged during the festival, such as cookery competitions, music concerts, and various kinds of activities for the kids.
The main goal of this event which the Municipality of Egina supported from the beginning is to encourage and maintain the cultivation of the special pistachio known internationally as the “Aegina Pistachio.”
Kalymnos Diving/Climbing Festival
The Climbing Festival is one of the annual festivals in Greece for hiking enthusiasts. This primary event draws thousands of climbers from across the world to Kalymnos, the spectacular rocky island in the Dodecanese region. The event involves climbing workshops for children and adults, also includes Greek dance lessons, day trips, and music performances.
Thessaloniki International Film Festival
The International Film Festival is one of the most essential cultural festivals in Greece. It takes place every November and it offers a platform for new directors to exhibit their work and welcomes almost 70,000 people taking part in the screenings held around the city. Also, it is regarded as one of the most splendid cinematographic festivals in Greece.
The feast is of huge significance, as it honors Christ’s birth. People used to decorate wooden boats for Christmas in the past, honoring Greece’s nautical heritage, but today people adopt Western trends and adorn Christmas trees. Traditionally, kids sing Christmas carols (kalanda) from door to door on December 24th.
1. How do Greeks celebrate?
Easter is the most indispensable religious festival for Greeks. The Greek calendar is packed with customs and beliefs that many Greeks still follow from the Lent (and even Carnival, or Apokries) to Easter.
2. What were the festivals in ancient Greece?
3. What is Greece famous for?
Greece is regarded as the cradle of Western Civilization, the birthplace of democracy, the Olympic Games, and its ancient heritage and majestic shrines. The ancient temples in Greece consist of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens, the Apollo Temple in Delphi, and the Poseidon Temple in Sounion.
4. What were the two main functions of a Greek festival?
Festivals were a very important part of life in ancient Greece and were a central part of worshipping the gods. They usually included a procession and a sacrifice. Festivals also included various competitions, which were seen as another way to honor a god.
5. What food is Greece famous for?
When you are in Greece, you must try the following dishes. Don’t leave Greece without tasting them.
- Grilled meat
- Fresh fish
- Courgette balls