Festivals and Celebrations on the Greek Islands

Ferry Fiesta Festivals and Celebrations on the Greek Islands

The Greek Islands host a variety of festivals all year round. From a solemnly observed holy week to exciting carnivals.

The summer high season starts with the Shapes music festival on Zakynthos (Zante). Party all night with top music genres while enjoying beautiful Ionian Sea views!

On the island of Skyros, you can join the locals celebrating their Carnival traditions. Look out for the Geroi, Koreles and Frangoi with their goat bells around their waists.


In the summer, the Greek Islands explode with fests and celebrations. Many of these go back to ancient times while others are dedicated to more modern art, music and dance. The festivals that celebrate the islands’ local products are particularly special.

On the island of Schinousa, a big festival takes place on the first weekend of July in the main square to promote their fava (dhal). This year, the event went viral with a touching video of an 89-year-old man and his granddaughter dancing together!

A big wine festival is held on the cliff-top monastery of Panagia Kastriani on the island of Tzia. The monastery’s churchyard is filled with tables where guests enjoy a variety of local wines and dishes like ntolmadakia (fresh vine leaves stuffed with rice) and patatato (braised meat with potatoes). Bagpipes, violins and traditional dances add to the festive atmosphere.

A big event in the southern Peloponnese is Navy Week. During this week coastal towns, fishing villages and ports around Greece celebrate their long relationship with the sea and honor the Greek Navy. The highlight is the reenactment of the mythical voyage of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. This is an impressive spectacle and also a great excuse to party!


In spring, Greece is at its most alluring. The main towns buzz with local festivals, and the countryside blooms with wildflowers such as cyclamen, poppies, and chamomile. Visitors avoid the crowds that descend on the popular beaches and island destinations in summer, but can still enjoy the same warm weather and historical riches. Holy Week and its religious festivities offer a unique charm, when the Greeks dress in traditional costumes to celebrate the ancient traditions. On the island of Patmos, a reenactment of the Last Supper is staged at the monastery of St. John the Divine.

Some of the spring festivals hark back to pagan traditions. On May Day, the wreaths of flowers picked in spring are hung on the doors of houses, while the midsummer feast of Klidonas or the Nativity of John the Baptist draws on pagan rituals. In many parts of Greece, military parades mark National Days based on major events in the country’s history.

The festival season continues into fall, when Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki is the focus of an international film fest (Anima). The town of Nisyros celebrates a different kind of art during its annual puppet festival. The island of Kos also holds a celebration of the harvest with a procession and dance that ends with a contest where participants throw coins into a cup.


In autumn, Greece’s enchanting landscapes unfurl like a tapestry of extraordinary discoveries. The sweltering summer heat gives way to a gentle embrace, allowing you to relish the great outdoors and partake in activities that ignite the spirit of adventure. At the same time, a series of festivals and celebrations come to life, enlivening local communities and providing a perfect complement to the natural splendor that surrounds you.

In Athens, the annual Festival of Greek Drama features superb productions in the ancient theater of Herodes Atticus. June to early October. At Skiathos, the Bourtzi Cultural Center stages a series of ancient dramas and modern dance performances. September through November.

On the island of Simi, a 4-month feast of music and theater spills over to seven neighboring islands: Astypalaia, Halki, Diaplara, Kastellorizo, Karpathos, Kos, and Tilos. June through late August. The Lycabettus Theatre in Athens hosts a variety of performances. Mid-June through late August. The celebration of Miaoulis on Hydra honors the Hydriot admiral who sank much of the Turkish fleet in 1940. A weekend in mid-June.

In the northern regions of Epirus and Western Macedonia, the enchanting kaleidoscope of nature’s colors explodes in mesmerizing beauty with alpine forests blazing with fall hues. A weekend in early June. The Feast of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael (Gavriel and Mihail) is a major holiday in Patras.


The Greeks have been partying since the dawn of Western civilization (at least according to Epicurus, who dedicated his life to seeking out pleasure). Their joie de vivre shines bright in winter, when you’ll find many events centered around food, music and dance, plus throwbacks to the ancients.

The Poseidonia, a celebration of the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses, was held during the shortest day of the year, usually in the winter months. It was an important ceremony for coastal communities heavily dependent on fishing, trade and naval pursuits.

On the island of Evia (Euboea), a large, lush island that looks much like mainland Greece but has a bridge to it, they hold a festival dedicated to the sun god Helios on July 17. A cross is launched into the sea and swimmers try to retrieve it for good luck.

The Aeschylia Festival of Ancient Drama stages classic plays at the archaeological site of Eleusis, home of the ancient Mysteries and birthplace of the playwright Aeschylus, west of Athens. During the festival, performances of ancient drama, opera and orchestra are staged in the handsome Odeum theater.