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To avoid crowds, just before and after peak seasons (May–June and September) are good seasons to visit. August is the busiest season on all these islands, when hotel reservations and even spots on interisland ferries can be hard to come by. Patmos is packed at Easter. From October to May, most archaeological places remain open, but many hotels, restaurants, and shops are closed and boat travel is limited by the weather's whims.
These islands offer a rich and packed calendar of special events and festivals—you may wish to time your visit to coincide with one or more of these. Easter is celebrated with traditional flare on the island, especially in Rhodes town, where festivities begin with candlelight processions and fireworks late Saturday around midnight; island bakeries serve tsoureki, sweet braided bread. You can get a glimpse at medieval life on Rhodes during the Medieval Rose Festival (www.medievalfestival.gr) in late May, when jugglers, fire-eaters, and jesters parade through the cobblestone streets of Old Town. A rich schedule of concerts and dance and theatrical performances, including a dramatic presentation of the Hippocratic Oath, is featured at Kos's Ippokratia Festival (www.kosinfo.gr) in August. The Symi Festival (www.symi.gr), June–September, is jam-packed with events, including dance and musical performances, as well as film screenings; venues include some of the island’s most historic landmarks, such as the Chatziagapitos Mansion and the monastery of Taxiarchis Michael Panormitis. Patmos's high-profile Festival of Sacred Music (www.patmos-island.com) in September brings Byzantine and classical music to the amphitheater outside the Apocalypse Monastery (www.patmos-island.com).