Summer Greece means sun, hot weather, crystal clear beaches and fests-ελληνικά πανηγύρια, in every corner of the country. In July and August, Greeks never miss a chance to celebrate, dance and reunite with family and friends. Most of these festivals are dedicated to Saints of the Orthodox Church and take their names after them. A more detailed look will definitely help you add some of this Greek parties to your itinerary if you are travelling to Greece.
The fest of Profitis Elias
On the beautiful island of Mytilene, on the 20th of July, there is the fest of Profitis Elias. A lot of regions honor this Prophet but there is something special about this place. On this day, you see around 200 horsemen cross the streets of Agiaso until they reach the church and start distributing food to the attendees. You will also see little girls on their ponies and young children on donkeys walking aside the horsemen. Around the rest of Greece, the legend wants Elia to be a hermit but in Mytilene, they honor him as a brave horse rider. In recent years, the locals celebrate the Prophet with a 3-day fest full of traditional dances, food and lots of wine.
The fest of ‘’Agioi Anargyroi’’
In the breath-taking region of the Peloponnese, there is a small port town, Hermione. On July 1st the fest of ”Agioi Anargyroi’’ takes place. On this day, the farmers camp in their fields and sailors spend the nights in their boats. Back in time, sailors used to race towards the bay. Later in the night, there is the procession of the Agioi Anargiroi icon and as with every fest, it ends with dance and music until the morning hours.
Fest of Fava bean
And yes, besides saints, Greeks also organize fests in the name of their local products! On the first weekend of July, the locals gather in the main square of the island of Schinousa to celebrate and promote the production of the local φάβα (dhal). People are served free food and get to try the various ways of cooking fava. When dancing begins, no one goes home until the sun has risen. This year, their fest went viral with this touching video of a 89-year-old man, Pappou Giorgo, and his granddaughter dancing together.
Out of all products, wine is rightfully so the main protagonist in every fest around Greece. On the magical island of Ithaca, on the last weekend of July, a big fest takes place in the small village of Perahori. Their famous local wine is available to locals and visitors for free all night until the sun rises. To enter the main dance floor which is in the yard of the local school there is a small symbolic fee to pay to support the local association. This fest seems like the best way to close the month of July in one of the most beautiful islands in Greece!
The cup dance
Also known as the cup of the Virgin Mary, in the picturesque island of Tilos. If you visit the island of Tilos at the end of the month, do not skip Megalo Chorio where the fest takes place. It is called the dance cup because the first dancer of the circle holds a cup and while dancing, the others try to fill the cup with coins. Then, the dancer passes it to another member of the circle who becomes the first dancer. At the end of the day, the money gathered in the cup is donated to charity.
Honestly there are tons of fests, panigyria as Greeks call them, around Greece during July and August. The season of panigyria might be the perfect time to visit if you love dancing and Greek traditions.
Greeks never miss the chance to celebrate but these celebrations serve another purpose; they are an opportunity for people who live abroad to return to their villages, their roots and celebrate with their loved ones. These fests are a celebration of people who get together after a long time. They are a celebration of family. A celebration of community. And they definitely are some of the most special events one will witness in the heart of the Greek summer.
For Greek traditions read here.