11 Famous Festivals in Greece

festivals in Greece
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Festivals in Greece hold the greatest cultural significance, according to its Greek Orthodox calendar.

Greece festivals are known for their traditional events, which include annual dance festivals, music festivals, and many more religious celebrations.

In a European Country, where you can celebrate your birthday on two different days, Greece is a wonderful catholic place where festivals are crucial, whether national holidays or cultural events.

Through the festivals in Greece, the true greek culture and tradition of the greek orthodox church are communicated and celebrated. Apart from the cultural festivals in Greece, there are some fun and entertaining ones as well.

Some of them involve national holidays, traditional food festivals, or Christmas carols. Greeks celebrate an enormous amount of festivities to keep you engaged the entire, which is wonderful.

Read ahead to know about some of the most famous and important festivals in Greece, which are held every year by the Greeks, and what the meaning of these unique events is.

1. 11 Famous Festivals in Greece

1.1 Kalamata International Dance Festival

Taking place in the month of July, this festival is an annual dance festival held in Kalamata, Greece. In this event, various dance groups and singing artists gather from both local and international places.

If you’re an avid dance and music lover, this festival is the ideal time to discover more about contemporary dances and new genres of music throughout the world. It is also a wonderful event to socialize with new people and artists.

festivals in Greece
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You can experience a bunch of different dancing styles both from experienced famous artists as well from amateurs. Workshops are also held where you’ll be taught some incredible moves along with other side events as well.

By bringing both art and music together, this festival is one of the most expected festivals in Greece. From classical music to street-style dance moves, everything is exciting here.

1.2 Easter

Being one of the most crucial and traditional festivals in Greece, the event runs for a week until Easter Sunday. According to the Greek Orthodox church, Easter holds the most significant in terms of its cultural festivals.

It begins on Clean Monday, a special holy day when you’ll see kites flying up in the sky, to represent they are reaching the heavens to Jesus Christ. This day starts off the auspicious festival of Easter celebration, in Greece.

Up to Holy Friday or Good Friday, church services are held every night. The crowd of people and pilgrims increases by each day as Easter Sunday approaches. On Holy Saturday, the resurrection night of Jesus Christ is the most anticipated.

The great feast that is held for Easter celebrations, also known as the Holy Spirit Day, begins after the end of Easter. It generally starts 40-50 days after Easter’s end.

People hold their lighted candles up in the air to the eternal sky, for blessings and a feeling of satisfaction. On some Greek islands, people take their candles at home and draw crosses on their doors, for fortune and good luck.

On Holy Thursday or the Maundy Thursday of the Easter Week, the day is marked as the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Catholics ruminate about Jesu Christ’s Last Supper, on this holy week.

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On Holy Friday, flowers are offered to the tombs, known as the Epitaphios of Jesus Christ. They are arranged in squares and are toured through the towns and places in Greece.

Easter Sunday remains the most traditional festival in Greece that speaks about its cultural importance. On Holy Saturday, the event of Easter reaches its climax with fireworks and candles lighted and held up in the sky.

This stunning dim-lighted scenario with Jesus Christ’s spiritual energy is filled with peace and satisfaction for the souls of the Catholics.

No wonder Easter’s Holy Week is such a famous festival in Greece, let alone one of the most favorite festivals in Greece.

1.3 Greek Independence Day

On 25th March, military parades march all over the places in Greece to celebrate Greek Independence Day. War was declared in 1821, against the Turks, on this day in Greece.

It is not a surprise if you sew Greek flags decorated and marching all down the streets and through the towns. All museums, stores, and archaeological sites in Greece are closed on this day.

On this day, another religious celebration is also held, called the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. On this national holiday, Angel Gabriel broke the auspicious annunciation of Jesus Christ’s birth to his mother, Virgin Mary.

Celebrated as one of the major festivals in Greece, this day surely holds the huge importance that it has created, by colliding two auspicious events on one day. That is why it is also a Public Holiday.

festivals in Greece
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Several Greek families and islands also celebrate Greece’s independence day with pride and enthusiasm.

It was of the decline of the Ottoman empire along with the fortunate news of Jesus’s arrival, so it is no wonder this day is this special in Greece.

Among all the other religious festivals, on this day, you’ll see a colored march of Blue-White Greece flags walking through all the regions and islands of Greece.

1.4 Christmas Day

How can we forget the infamous worldwide favorite festival of Christmas that the Greeks absolutely adore? Being among the most popular festivals in Greece and worldwide, Christmas deserves a big mention.

It is that special festival at the end of the year that brings every family together to celebrate this quiet and happy time of Christmas. You’ll see young locals singing Christmas carols on Christmas eve, whether it is on buses, trains, or knocking on people’s doors.

The beautiful melody on the nights of Christmas eve fills up the air and Greeks celebrate this day by decorating the Christmas trees, their houses with lights, and family feasting.

In the Greek tradition, the older Greeks used to adorn wooden boats with lights and other furnishings. However, as Christmas went through evolution internationally, decorating Christmas trees became a tradition.

festivals in Greece
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Among the Greek holidays in the Greek calendar, Christmas could be that one holiday that children love and adore. It has become a storytelling culture of how children receive gifts on Christmas day.

Their family prepares a great warm feast day, which includes delicious sugar-coated butter cookies for children, and other sweet desserts with also savory items to complete the day.

A marvelous important festival after the Greek Easter Sunday, that steal the hearts of children, especially in Northern Greece.

1.5 The Carnival Season

Running through the February-March months of the year, the Carnival Season is one of the most favorite festivals in Greece, especially for children. It lasts for three weeks with wild dancing and enormous feasting to the point of excess drunkenness.

From young children to older people, everyone dresses in costumes of different themes. Be it dark, eccentric, horror, or seductive, costumes are versatile in this quirky festival with make-up!

The exact dates of the Carnival often change every year, due to the Greek Easter days and Holy Spirit day coming up right after. The Carnival season can also be described as a greek word called the Apokries.

Several exotic and outrageous parties are held in Greek islands like Naxos, Corfu, Patras, and Xanthi. During these hot-blooded parties, people enjoy huge feasts with wine boozes and tireless dancing on the streets.

It is often said that the Carnival festival has been modernized from the ancient Greek holidays of a wine-drinking week. During those weeks, the Greek God of Drunkenness and Theatre, Dionysus was being worshipped.

Festivals in Greece
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A few days into the aggressive carnival festival, there arrives a special day when the people consume a ton of grilled meat. This day is also known as Grilled Meat Thursday.

It is the ideal day for the Greeks who love meat to eat out in grill houses or meat restaurants. It is one of those during the carnival when people eat like it is their last day on earth, which is quite fascinating to witness.

Being an important holiday in the Greek calendar, the Carnival festival is not only about culture but also about fun and entertainment among the Greeks.

The festival may not be well-known internationally, but it is one of the most popular festivals in Greece.

1.6 OHI Day

Still being one of the most important festivals in Greece, Ohio Day is a pride day for Greece in memory of their Greek Prime Minister and Former Military General, Ioannis Metaxas.

On 28th October, you’ll witness a hoard of military parades, along with Greek flags, celebrating this important day with everyone, from children to old people.

During World War II, the Prime Minister of Italy, Benito Mussolini asked Greece to surrender to the Italian Government or else they’ll seize the country and threatened Greece with a War warning.

Consequently, as a response, the Greek Prime Minister declined the proposal with a simple, “No’ or “Ohi’ in Greek. So, the result leads to the War between Italy and Greece.

When the Italians attacked the border of Greece in Albania. the Greeks fought like heroes, surrendering their lives on the line and surviving Mussolini’s harsh attacks.

Later on, Greece sought help from Hitler and German troupes and finally won over the Italians by embarrassing Mussolini on his words. This proud moment of joy that began of joy and victory, began with that strong decision made by the Greek Prime Minister.

No wonder, this incredible holiday with such a deep backstory has this much impact on the Greeks. You’ll witness the parades marching by shouting ‘Ohi’ throughout the journey along the Greece country.

It may not among the most popular cultural festivals in Greece, but it is still really important since it showcases the bravery and economic side of Greece, during war times.

1.7 Labor Day

Also known as the Protomagia, a huge feast is held on this day in Greece since it is a public holiday. All the museums, stores and other places are closed on this day.

People often visit Athens for a family picnic on this day or go to the beach or countryside for a breath of fresh air. Even all means of transportation like metros and trains are also closed.

Apart from Greece, in many other countries, Labor day is regarded as the strike day for laborers. Basically, everything including stores to systems, stays closed, since nobody works on this important public holiday.

1.8 Cretan Diet Festival

Held in the month of early July, the Cretan Diet Festival is another one of the most anticipated festivals in Greece, exclusively for food lovers.

If you’re for a food adventure, involving Cretan diet routines and how this diet is beneficial and can be produced, then this festival is for you.

From delicious dairy products, and refreshing citrus fruits to exotic fish dishes, every Cretan dish is filled with flavor and taste. Even the food stalls and restaurants also offer Cretan diet food, during this time of the festival.

This event markets a healthy diet into your routine, which is also promoted in Greek hotels and other restaurants for awareness. Along with other events held during this time, it is one of the most entertaining festivals in Greece.

1.9 Dormition of Virgin Mary

On 15th August, the day regarded as one of the most important festivals in Greece is when the Mother of God arrived in Heaven. Catholics commemorate that Virgin Mary closed her eyes without any pain, and led her spiritual way to Heaven.

Every Church in the Greek country is seen celebrating this auspicious day with large groups of people, praying and ringing the Church bells for the peaceful journey of the Virgin Mary.

festivals in Greece
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This important event is followed by many other side events of dancing with live music, feasting, and other rituals, which are known as Panigiria.

On the Tinos island of Greece, the Panagia Evangelistria Church is known for its huge festivity event arrangement for the Dormition of Virgin Mary Day. It is regarded as the most popular church to visit because of its grandeur celebration.

But every other church in Greece celebrates this fortunate spiritual day in the Greek Orthodox calendar, so it is no surprise how crucial this festival is, in Greece.

1.10 Athens Polytechnic School Uprising

It is a memorial day festival in Greece for the anniversary of the Polytechnic School Uprising. The event started with a revolutionary war demonstration by the students of Polytechnic School to oppose the Junta Greek Dictatorship.

On 17th November 1973, the students of the Polytechnic School in Exarchia, Athens begin revolting against the ongoing dictatorship in Greece from the year of 1967 to 1974.

The day ended in a great tragedy when a tank broke down the gates of the school and a massive number of people and students lost their lives. Even though there’s no proof of how many people died, the number is still note-worthy.

Afterward, the Greek Junta Dictorship came to an end soon in 1974, for those brave school students who fought for this glory. Even today, on this day every year, several marches and parades are released, especially in Athens.

Once again, the day often ends in hot-blooded fights and riots every time, especially in the streets of Exarchia and Pattison.

Even though this holiday may not be among the happy festivals in Greece, it still deserves a mention for the brave young students who gave up their lives for the end victory.

1.11 The Feast of Saint George

On 23rd April, it is celebrated as the feast day of Saint George, the patron saint or the patron of the shepherds. Somehow, if the day falls on the Greek Easter Celebrations time, then it is considered Easter Monday.

He is celebrated for being the knight who killed the dragon in ancient Greek times. Many stories portray that Saint George fought with dragons for the welfare of the Greece citizens.

He tamed and killed the dragons which were alive to feed on human bodies that were sacrificed to them. So, on this fortunate day, Saint George is commemorated and a grand feast is prepared in his memory and his greatness.

2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

2.1 What are the Most Famous Festivals in Greece?

Among the listed important holidays, some of the most traditional and cultural festivals in Greece are Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, Carnival Season, Ohi Day, and Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

Other festivals in Greece hold as much importance as the others, but since some of them are very much anticipated throughout the year, they have made it to the list since they are famous and popular, in Greece and worldwide.

2.2 What is the Most Important Festival in Greece?

When it comes to importance and cultural significance, Easter still holds the most strictness and value, according to the Greek Orthodox Calendar.

Other cultural festivals hold very similar significance, but Easter holds the most priority all year among the festivals in Greece.

festivals in Greece
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay/Copyright 2017

3. Conclusion

There are an enormous amount of festivals in Greece, that are held all throughout the year. It is true indeed that when it comes to events and festivities, Greece holds among the top positions worldwide in celebrations.

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There are other festivals in Greece like Saint Helen on the 21st of May, Saint John on the 24th of June, and Saint Constantine and Whit Monday, which are holy days for Greek tradition and culture.

If you ever visit Greece, it is best to visit during the summertime when the festivals are at their peak, so that you can witness the gorgeous festivity it holds.

Which Greece festival is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments!

We would love to hear from you.



  • Sampurna Laha

    Sampurna is an experienced food & travel niche writer passionate about reading and experimenting with new destinations and their cuisine. Aspiring to become a professional lifestyle blogger, with a media studies background, she will lead you through some of the best recipes, restaurants, and landmarks worldwide.


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