Festivals on Crete:
Crete is famous for the amazing panighiria that take place all year round in the villages of the island, though more frequently in the summer. These panighiria are considered perfect examples of group gatherings where you can gain a full understanding of how the Cretans enjoy themselves. They take place in the village square, with eating, drinking and dancing in the tavernas around the square lasting till the early hours. It is worthwhile asking Cretans during your stay on the island about whether there are any panaghiria occurring in the villages near your villa or hotel. Going to and even participating in a Cretan panaghiri definitely creates memorable experiences.
Religious feasts & festivals
August 15th is the largest religious festival after Easter and Christmas on Crete and the one celebrated most frequently outside in the village squares. It takes place all over Crete on the occasion of the religious commemoration of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Almost all villages have a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and organize panighiria that day. The most popular panighiria on August 15th are in the Monastery of Panagia Chrissoskalitissa in Chania and in the Byzantine church of Panagia Kera in Lassithi. If you are on the island at this time, ask the owner of the villa where you are staying or your hotel’s reception as to where there is a panaghiri nearby that day and about how to get there and what to expect.
On April 23rd, the feast of Agios Georgios is celebrated. Particularly large festivals are organized in Asi Gonia in Chania prefecture but easily reached from Arghiroupoli in Rethymno Prefecture and in Plakias on the south coast in Rethymno Prefecture.
On August 25th, there is a large feast for Saint Titus in the city of Heraklion. Saint Titus was the first bishop of Crete and is considered the protector and patron saint of the island.
There are many carnival celebrations in Crete island, including musical concerts, carnival parades and old customs that revive the olden times. The most popular carnivals take place in Rethymno, Herakion and Sitia, Rethymno’s carnival, held just before the period of fasting known as lent, is the most well known across Greece with visitors from across the country filling the town’s hotels for these few days.
This is 4 day celebration of music, food and art that takes place in the village of Houdetsi, 23 km south of Heraklion Town. This festival is organized by Ross Daly as a continuation of the Labyrinth Musical Workshop.
This is an international festival that usually takes place in June in Matala. It is like a trip to the past, with music, art and literature from 1960 to 1970, the era of the hippies.
Wine festivals are organized every summer in many Cretan villages. Particularly popular is the wine festival in Anogia.