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Festivals and events in the Ionian Islands

A GUIDE TO WHAT'S ON AND WHEN

Here's our guide to what's on in the Ionian Islands. There's something for everyone, especially in the summer months, when the Greeks have much to celebrate. 

Certain religious festivals, such as Easter and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, are celebrated throughout the islands, while others are specific to a town or village where a specific saint is revered. Solemn devotion is most certainly the driving force behind these religious events, but they are also an excuse for dancing, music-making, eating and drinking late into the night. If you get chance to go to one, don't miss out. 

Villas in the Ionian Islands



Pan-Ionian Island festivals and events

Easter
Most of the islands, but particularly Corfu, celebrate both Orthodox and Catholic Easters. After a more or less devotional Lent, Easter Day is a time for processions, marching bands, fireworks and more. Tables groan with huge feasts of whole roast lambs and traditional specialities, and families and friends come together in what is also a celebration of Spring.

Where? Everywhere, with particularly colourful Easter celebrations in Corfu Town
When? a moveable feast, depending on when Easter (in both the Orthodox and the Catholic calendars) falls  


The Assumption of the Virgin Mary
An important national holiday throughout Greece.  All churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary organise a festival and Greek music and dancing are ubiquitous.

Where? everywhere with a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary
When? 15th August annually



Corfu 

Folklore Festival
Greek music, dancing and traditional costumes in the beautiful harbour setting of Kassiopi.

Where? Kassiopi
When? beginning of August (2018 date not yet confirmed)


The Varkarola
The Varkarola takes place every summer in various places around Corfu. The event celebrates the miracle of Saint Spyridon whom locals believe saved the island from Turkish invasion on 11th August 1716. A nautical battle is recreated in the sea off Corfu Town and in the bay of Palaiokastritsa, while bands play traditional music and dancers showcase Greek dancing. At the end of the Varkarola, a boat is set on fire and there is a giant fireworks display to commemorate the burning of the Turkish naval fleet during the siege.

Where? various seafront towns and villages around Corfu, including the capital and Palaiokastritsa
When? traditionally 10th August, but dates change each year so please check


Saint Spyridon's Day
No saint is as beloved on Corfu as St.Spyridon, whose many miracles are celebrated in Corfu Town. The body of the saint is taken around town, in a procession that takes most of the day. Brass bands march behind, along with the clergy, civic dignitaries and the public.

Where? Corfu Town
When? 11th August annually


International Festival and Choir Competition
Choirs and folk groups arrive from all over the world to take part in a festival and competition of traditional choral music. 

Where? Corfu Town
When? 12th - 16th September 2018

Villas on Corfu



Paxos

The Paxos Contemporary Art Project
Paxos becomes an open-air gallery of contemporary art, with specially commissioned installations, sculptures, videos and more by eight international artists exhibited all around the island. 

Where? Paxos
When? 22nd June - 9th September 2018


The Paxos Festival
A long-running annual festival of classical music with a dash of other art forms. Musicians come from all over the world to take part in concerts in the three main towns of Gaios, Loggos and Lakka. and musicians come from all over the world.

Where? Paxos
When? 14th July - 8th September 2018

Villas on Paxos and Antipaxos



Lefkada and Meganissi

Agion Pateron
An annual pilgrimage to the little convent above the village of Nikiana. Devotion is expressed by walking up the steep hill and thanks is given to the saints. Once homage has been paid, it's time for a party (which usually begins around 10.00pm), with traditional clarinet music, dancing and general feasting.

Where? Nikiana (on the east coast of Lefkada)
When? 27th May annually


The feast day of Agios Ioannis
Saint John the Baptist is honoured on the eve of his saint's day. Most people arrive at the beach on the west coast of Meganissi by boat, coming not only from the island itself but also from Lefkada and other neighbouring islands. Celebrations continue long into the evening with traditional clarinet music and dancing.

Where? Agios Ioannis (a little chapel on the west coast of Meganissi)
When? 24th June annually


The feast day of Agia Kiriaki 
Agia Kiriaki is the beloved patron of Vlicho but popular throughout Lefkada. Celebrations go on for three days, with a street market, comings and goings across the water with Nidri, thanksgiving and then, on the final evening, an almighty all-night party starting at around 11.00pm.

Where? Vlicho and Nidri (on the east coast of Lefkada)
When? 7th July annually


The feast day of Agia Paraskevi
Agia Paraskevi is worshipped in the small village of Agios Petros, just outside Vassiliki in the south of Lefkada. After a day of sombre thanksgiving, a traditional party begins late in the evening, with tables and chairs put out into the village square, food and wine on tap, and te usual music and dancing.

Where? Agios Petros (in the south of Lefkada)
When? 26th July annually


A traditional Lefkadan wedding
Lefkadans are proud of their traditions and in August, one such is celebrated with the renactment of a traditional island wedding. Costumes, music, food and wine all have a role and the event is a popular one with hundreds of visitors.

Where? Karia (in the mountains to the south of Lefkada Town)
When? the 1st Sunday in August annually


The Agios Donatos lentil festival
High above the sea, in the mountains of central Lefkada is a plateau. For centuries, if not thousands of years, this has been a place of agriculture, of abundance. Traditionally lentils have been grown to feed the islanders and it is this humble legume that is celebrated in  concomitance with the festival of Agios Donatos. After prayers, steaming vats of lentils, accompanied by sardines, other specialities and wine are served outside the church.

Where? Englouvi (Lefkada)
When? 6th August annually


Lefkas International Folklore Festival
Since 1962, the Lefkas International Folklore Festival has been promoting peace, friendship and brother-sisterhood throughout the world. There are eight days of traditional folk dancing and music with participants from all five continents.  There's a great atmosphere and fun for all the family.

Where? Lefkada Town
When? 19th - 26th August 2018

Villas on Lefkada and Meganissi



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