The Northern Aegean Islands Feature
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Island Celebrations in the Northern Aegean
Festivals provide a wonderful view into age-old traditions—and lots of fun. Mixing folk traditions with myth and legend, the three-week-long Greek Carnival (Apokreas) is celebrated to varying degrees throughout the islands, including those beyond the northern Aegean. Other festivals, honoring patron saints, history, or the local culture, are unique.
Chios has some notable pre-Lenten events. Greek Carnival, which begins in February and shifts according to the start of Lent, reaches a climax in Thimiana, south of Chios town, where islanders reenact the expulsion of the Berber pirates in the Festival of Mostras. There on the last Friday of Carnival, youths masquerade and wear old men's and women's clothes. Three days later in villages across the island Clean Monday is celebrated with the custom of Agas, when an "Aga" is chosen to judge and sentence the people who are present in a humorous, recreational affair. On the evening before Easter the effigy of Judas is burned in Mesta. In Pirgi on August 15 and August 23, villagers perform the local dance, the pyrgoussikos, to commemorate the death of the Virgin Mary.
On Lesbos, Clean Monday brings Carnival to a close with lavish costume parades and theater performances at Agiassos.
Molyvos Theater Festival. The best known of the festivals held on these islands, the Molyvos Theater Festival takes place in July and August. With Molyvos castle as backdrop, artists from Greece and elsewhere in Europe stage entertainments that range from a Dario Fo play to contemporary music concerts. 22530/71323 tickets.
On August 15 the islanders of Lesbos again flock to Agiassos to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin with dancing, drinking, and eating. Samos has many celebrations: a wine festival in late summer to early fall pleases with Panhellenic dances in Samos town. In high summer, a fisherman's festival centers on the harbor at Pythagorio. Swimming races in Pythagorio commemorate the battle of Cavo Fonias on August 6, a day of celebration for the entire island. On September 14, the Timiou Stavrou monastery celebrates its feast day with a service followed by a paniyiri (feast), with music, firecrackers, coconut candy, and loukoumades (honey-soaked dumplings).
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe