2017 Festivals in Ermioni

Ermioni is very much a tradtional Greek town and still maintains some important festivals that have been known from ancient times.  Throughout the year these festivals offer a mix of tradition, culture and entertainment, where you have the oportunity to taste Greek food, listen to Greek music and experience the Greek culture.  If you have the opportunity to visit Ermioni, try to combine your visit with a Greek festival.  Easter is one that should not be missed and an experience you will not forget.  Many festivals today have a religious core and are in agreement with the Christian Orthodox calendar.

The main annual festivals are listed below . . . although there are numerous other festivals held throughout the year.

2017  Important festival dates for your diary . . .

January 1 - Feast of St Basil - Agios Vassilis - Associated with a good start to the New Year and celebrated within families homes, with presents exchanged.  After the service in church, there follows a family meal which starts with the slicing of the Vassilopita cake.  The old Byzantine custom of slicing the Vassilopita, also referred to as the Basil Cake or New Year Cake, gives the person who finds the hidden token in their slice, the blessing of good luck for the whole year. The first slice is for St Basil himself, the next slice is for the eldest member of the household, and then so on through the whole family.  It is also deemed good luck to have a 'small' gamble on this day.  More images in the picture gallery below.

January 6 - Epiphany and 'Yala-Yala' - Mass starts early in the morning in the old village, followed by a procession down to the harbour front, where the priests bless the sea, followed by the senior priests throwing a wooden cross and icon into the sea.  Young men, who have been drinking throughout the night, begin to sing on the decorated boats moored in the harbour, and dive into the sea to retrieve the cross and icon from the cold water.  The two who get to the cross and icon first are presented with a gold cross-and-chain and blessed with 12 months of good fortune. After this ceremony, civic dignitaries go to the town hall for the blessing of the Epiphany cake.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-sets/72157628926292421                                                                              
February 26 - Carnival - The Carnival parades in Ermioni have been replaced by 'open-air' parties held at Mandrakia on Saturday (25th) and Limani port area on Sunday (26th).  A Regional Ermionida Carnival parade now takes place in Porto Heli, beginning around 1:00pm.  Carnival time is for masquerade parties, parades, feasts and fun.  Although most carnival-related events are historically connected with the ancient worship of the Greek god of wine and intoxication, Dionysus, masquerades and carnivals became popular throughout Greece during the Venetian period. The feasting and drinking Carnival atmosphere continues throughout the whole day and evening.            www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629428016667

February 27 - Clean Monday - In Eastern Orthodox calendars, Clean Monday or Kathari Deftera is sometimes referred to as Ash or Shrove Monday.  The day marks 40 days before Easter and the first day of the 'Great Lent'.  On this day it is customary for all children and grown ups alike to go and fly their paper kites.  As in previous years, at the church of Aghia Ermioni on Pronos Hill, one can enjoy the music and folk dancing whilst watching the skill involved in kite flying.  Many people start their 'Great Lent' today by eating only 'pure' foods like cuttlefish, squid, octopus, seafood, taramasalata, and a variety of vegitables served with the Lagana flat-bread.               More images in the picture gallery below.

March 25 - Independence Day - This is a national holiday which celebrates the start of the rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, that had occupied the country for nearly 400 years.  In Ermioni, the day begins with mass at the Taxiarches (Archangels) church in the old village, tribute at the Mitsas' memorial, followed by a procession to the Limani harbour front, where speeches are given and laying of wreaths commence at the war memorial.  The event continues with the playing of national music and a march past the town dignitaries by the children and students of Ermioni, some in national costume.  This is followed by traditional folk dancing by the war memorial.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157678541778064

 April 14 - Good (Great) Friday

On Good Friday, or Great Friday, flags at home and government buildings are set at half mast to mark the mournful day.  Household chores of any kind are avoided, and the tradition is that women are only allowed to colour the eggs.  It is a day of lent.  The day before, on the Thursday, ladies and children from the Ermioni community, prepare the flowers for the Epitaphios.  The morning of Good Friday, at about 10:00, a big church service is held, where Christ's burial is re-enacted.  During the evening service, the procession of the 'Epitaphios of Christ' takes place.  Both churches in the old village of Ermioni are packed and the bells chime loudly to announce the start of the procession.  Each church carries its own Epitaphios, and all the followers carry lit candles.  Once the procession reaches the momument at the Limani harbour front, prayers are said.  The procession returns to the two old village churches, where followers file under the Epitaphios, to re-enter their church for Holy bread and Easter blessings.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629489399282

April 15 - Easter Saturday midnight

The Resurrection Anastasi service starts around 22:00 followed by Easter blessing by Papa Yiannis of Taxiarchoi church and Papa Dimitrios of Panaghia church, who give Easter Blessings to their congregations at midnight, with the words of 'Christos Anesti' (Christ has Risen).  At this point, the church bells ring in Ermioni, followed by firecrackers and skyrockets.  The ceremonies then come to a close, as people begin to break their fast and return home to enjoy specially prepared traditional dishes like mayeiritsa soup, made from lamb (or goat's) offal, tsoureki sweet bread and boiled eggs, dyed various colours but mostly red.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629101029756

April 16 - Easter Sunday

Early Sunday morning is spent preparing the big day's meal of roast lamb on the spit, for the Easter Sunday family celebrations.  Family and friends are invited to enjoy numerous meals and drinks throughout the afternoon.  If you are planning to visit Ermioni, it is well worth considering this time of year, as Easter is the biggest celebration of the year in Greece.  The locals and taverna owners alike will give you a warm welcome during this festive Easter period, with the greetings of 'Hronia Pola' and 'Kalo Paskha'.  During the family meals, red dyed eggs (denoting the blood of Christ) are cracked together to determine the strongest winning egg.

The 'Burning of Judas' takes place at the Limani harbour front at around 21:30.  Many people attend from afar, as this local custom is slowly dying out in Greece.  Prior to the actual 'burning' ceremony, there is usually traditional folk dancing performed by the waterfront. Some local children (above-left) are lucky enough to join the fishermen in their little boats, who sail around the effigy of Judas, who is positioned in the centre of the harbour. The fishermen's red flares cast a very dynamic backdrop to the whole event.  Loud dramatic music is played from the harbour side, with dynamite explosions in the sea.  When Judas is set alight, a spectacular firework display begins, a truly memorable evening of sound and light.  This popular event is supported by the Ermioni fishermen.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629489399282

June 24/25 - 'Dionysia' Festival - The 3rd annual sports festival to be held to celebrate the famous athletic games held in ancient Hermione. Events begin on Saturday morning with the canoe and sailing boat races from the Mandrakia harbour. The running part is held later on Saturday afternoon, starting from the Limani monument.  A 23km mini-marathon event is held for the serious runners with a 10km run and a 5km 'fun' run for all other contestants. On Sunday morning there is the 2.5km swimming race from the Mandrakia harbour. All who take part in the events receive medals, with trophies presented to the winners. www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157654697365238 and  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157654831449438

June 23 - 'Klinodas' - Festival of St John - Celebrating the birth of St John by the local community, near the Yacht cafe around 21:00.  It's an opportunity for all the children and young people of Ermioni to celebrate this festival together.  The girls (maidens) wear wreaths of flowers in their hair, and pull out their wishes of finding their perfect partners from the mystic Greek urns.  If their fortunes are good, the girls will smash the urns.  Later, the boys and girls dance around a burning fire, and as a finale, everyone brave enough will jump over the fire for the purification ceremony. Originally an ancient mystic pagan tradition, this festival has survived to the present day.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629519544893

June 28 - Festival of St Peter and St Paul at Iliokastro - At the small mountain village of Iliokastro, 9kms from Ermioni, is the evening festival of St Peter and St Paul, celebrated by the local community and visitors from the surrounding areaFollowing the church service, there is an icon procession around the village, accompanied by a brass band.  After the people have returned to the church for final blessings, they go to browse the numerous market stalls, which line both sides of the main streetThe evening continues with drinking and feasting in most of the roadside tavenas in the mountain village, accompanied by live music and communal singing and dancing.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157630451048222

June 30 - Festival at the Monastery of Agioi Anargyroi - Situated just 4.5kms from Ermioni, this 11th Cen. Byzantine monastery was originally built on the temple ruins of the ancient god of healing, Asklepios.  On this evening and throughout the night, thousands of pilgrims from all over Greece ascend to pay their respects, buy candles, enter the 9th Cen. monastery church and pray. The street ascending to the monastery is lined with colourful market stalls, selling all types of merchandise and fancy goods, as well as offering various foods and refreshments.  A giant car park is created in a near-by field due to the number of visitors, controlled by the regional police.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629546237191

July 1 - The 'blessing of horses' at the Monastery of Agioi Anargyroi - Following the end of the all-night mass for the hundreds of people staying through to the morning of July 1, there is a ceremony of 'blessing of horses', which goes back hundreds of years, before the age of the motor car.  Horse owners from around the Ermionida region converge on the monastery in the late morning, then take their horses through the gates, into the large monastery courtyard.  Here most of the owners and their horses are blessed by the visiting priest, although some horses get blessed outside.  The horses and riders then make their way back to Ermioni or Kranidi for a celebration.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629546237191

July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni Music Festival - Featuring International, national and local choirs, plays, live music and dancers.  Following speeches at the opening ceremony, there is usually a performance from the Ermionida choir and musicians, followed by performances from International and regional Greek choirs and dancers, usually performed at the Town Hall and the Aghios Gerasimos church. In previous years there have been song and dance evenings held mid-week at the Mandrakia harbour. The closing ceremony by local singers and musicians is held at the Ermioni Town Hall on the Sunday evening. Admission is free for visitors to all the music festival events.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157627345225540

August 14/15 - Festival of the Panaghia (Holy Virgin) - The largest celebration in Greece to the Holy Virgin is the Dormition, or Assumption.  In Ermioni there is a church named Panaghia, so this annual festival has an extra special meaning, and many people from different parts of Greece come to Ermioni to celebrate.  The mass starts on the 14th August at 19:00, followed by a candle-lit procession, that goes down to the Limani harbour front about 21:30.  Upon return to the church, all pass under the floral epitaphios, where a blessing is given by the priests, followed by the giving of blessed bread. The Panaghia service continues next morning, concluded by Holy communion.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629730417519

October 22 - 7th Pomegranate Festival - The Limani area is turned into a display of fine foods and drinks made with pomegranates and presented by local taverna and bakery owners.  Potted pomegranate trees and music create the ambiance of a small colourful carnival, buzzing with people in celebration of this ancient fruit, which has been grown around Ermioni for centuries. Speeches are made describing the history and beneficial properties of the pomegranate fruit.  A great day for the Ermioni community and no doubt the festival will be better than last year, which included live music and singing with traditional folk dancing, everybody joining in at the end.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157627960011502

October 28 - 'OHI' Day - This holiday is celebrated throughout the whole of Greece.  The day is remembered for General Ioannis Metaxas' strong reply of 'OHI' (Ohi meaning No) to Mussolini's request to allow Italian troops to come into Greece at the beginning of World War II.  However, Mussolini's Italian forces did invade Greece, but were driven back into Albania by a much smaller Greek army.  In Ermioni, after the morning mass, there is a procession to the war monument.  After a brief blessing, wreaths are laid and speeches are given by representatives.  To conclude, school children and students march past the Ermionida civic dignitaires who line the Limani harbour side.    www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157627887149571

November 8 - Taxiarches Day - This name day starts with a service at the Taxiarches church in the old village of ErmioniWhen the service is finished, there is a tribute made to the two Mitsas brothers outside the museum of history and folklore.  Following this tribute, which includes the playing and singing of the national anthem, a procession makes its way down to the war monument at the Limani harbour.  This procession includes the leading civil, military and religious personnel of Ermioni, usually accompanied by a brass band and military escort.  The procession returns through the old village to the 9th Century Byzantine Taxiarches church to complete the church service.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157628098246204

December 24 - Christmas Eve - Christmas in Greece is not the big commercial festival that occurs throughout Northern Europe.  The morning starts with the sound of ringing triangles, as children go through the old village and town, singing their carols and collecting a little pocket-money.  In the evening, a group of 'Kantadoroi' (serenaders) make their way through the old village and town, singing traditional Greek carols and seasonal ballads.  This tradition was revived a few years ago, as some of the original serenaders from the 1960's and 70's re-united, and with younger singers and musicians joining them, they have continued this historic musical tradition in Ermioni.    More images in the picture gallery below.  

The main annual festivals are listed above . . . although there are numerous other festivals held throughout the year.

Location

Ermioni
Ermionida Argolida Peloponnese
Greece
37° 23' 8.2428" N, 23° 14' 52.5444" E
Picture Gallery
January 1 - St Basil's day - New Year's Day communion January 1 - St Basil's day - Slicing the 'Vassilopita' cake January 1 - St Basil's day - Distributing the 'Vassilopita' cake January 1 - St Basil's day - Everyone's happy with their slice January 6 - Epiphany 'Yala-Yala' - Young men getting ready for their swim January 6 - Epiphany 'Yala-Yala' - Diving in to retrieve the holy cross and icon January 6 - Epiphany 'Yala-Yala' - Blessing given by the Metropolitan January 6 - Epiphany 'Yala-Yala' - Official cutting of the Epiphany cake February 26 - Carnival - Children prepare for the festival February 26 - Carnival - Children getting 'in-tune' February 26 - Carnival - Regional Carnival held in Porto Heli February 26 - Carnival - Even the cooks join in the festivities February 27 - Clean Monday - A time for kite flying February 27 - Clean Monday - Flying kites on Pronos hill February 27 - Clean Monday - Up, up and away! February 27 - Clean Monday - Music and dancing on Pronos Hill March 25 - Independence Day - Time for National costumes March 25 - Independence Day - The parade begins! March 25 - Independence Day - Children marching past the dignitaries March 25 - Independence Day - Dancing by the monument April 13 - Holy Thursday - The community getting the Epitaphios ready April 14 - Good (Great) Friday - The Epitaphios in church April 14 - Good Friday - Good (Great) Friday morning sevice April 14 - Good Friday - The evening service ends with a kiss of the Icon April 14 - Good Friday - The evening procession begins April 14 - Good Friday - The evening procession passing through the old village April 14 - Good Friday - Epitaphios carried by the local men April 15 - Midnight Easter Saturday - 'Christos Anexi!' by candlelight April 16 - Easter Sunday - Everywhere the smell of roast lamb April 16 - Easter Sunday - Preparing the Easter meal including kokoretsi April 16 - Easter Sunday - An Easter drink with friends April 16 - Easter Sunday - Time to 'crack' the red Easter eggs April 16 - Easter Sunday - Music and dancing to end the day April 16 - The burning of Judas - evening of Easter Sunday - The fishermen arrive April 16 - The burning of Judas - evening of Easter Sunday - The firework display begins April 16 - The burning of Judas - evening of Easter Sunday - Bright lights over Ermioni June 23 - 'Klinodas' St.John's festival - The children getting ready June 23 - 'Klinodas' St.John's festival - Maidens make their wishes June 23 - 'Klinodas' St.John's festival - Dancing around the fire June 23 - 'Klinodas' St.John's festival - Jumping over the flames June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Iliokastro village June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Blessing of the bread June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Village procession June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Iliokastro comes to life June 30 - Anargyroi festival - Market approach  June 30 - Anargyroi festival - Everything for sale! June 30 - Anargyroi festival - The inner courtyard June 30 - Anargyroi festival - The 9thC Byzantine chapel July 1 - Anargyroi festival - 'Blessing of the horses' July 1 - Anargyroi festival - Man and horse are blessed July 1 - Anargyroi festival - Some horses prefer to stay outside July 1 - Anargyroi festival - A blessed black beauty July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Opening night July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Choir from Ermionida July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - International guest choirs July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Folk evening at Mandrakia July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Ermioni folk dancing group July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Traditional Greek songs July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival - Rembetika finale July 8 to 16 - 11th Ermioni music festival finale - 'The Music Master' August 14 - Panaghia festival - The evening service August 14 - Panaghia festival - Blessing of the holy bread August 14 - Panaghia festival - The Epitaphios carried back to the church   August 14 - Panaghia festival - Distribution of the blessed bread August 15 - Panaghia festival - The morning service August 15 - Panaghia festival - Morning concludes with Holy communion October 22 - The 7th annual Ermioni pomegranate festival October 22 - Selection of cakes and sweets made with pomegranates October 22 - Pomegranates mixed with yoghurt and fruits October 22 - Dishes made by tavernas available to sample October 22 - Pomegranate table displays October 22 - Pomegranate day horse and cart rides October 28 - 'Ohi' Day - The parade to the war memorial   October 28 - 'Ohi' Day - Mayors speech at the war memorial October 28 - 'Ohi Day' - Children march past the town's dignitaries  October 28 - 'Ohi Day' - Parade by the older students November 8 - Taxiarches Day - The floral bier outside Taxiarches church November 8 - Taxiarches Day - The band play the National Anthem November 8 - Taxiarches Day - The parade through the old village November 8 - Taxiarches Day - Prayers are said at the Memorial December 24 - Christmas Eve - Ermioni nativity display December 24 - Christmas Eve - 'Kantadoroi' carol singers in the village December 24 - Christmas Eve - Carols alongside the nativity December 25 - Christmas Day - Traditional Greek Christmas boat December 25 - Christmas Day - A child has been born December 25 - Christmas Day - Ermioni Christmas Village December 25 - Christmas Day - Ermioni Christmas Village December 25 - Christmas Day - Lights of Ermioni