2024 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.

2024  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. One slice is for St Basil himself, the remaining slices are for the eldest member of the household, and then so on through the whole family.  It is 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 priest throwing a wooden Holy Cross and Icon into the sea.  Young men, who have been drinking throughout the night, sing on the decorated boats moored in the harbour and dive into the sea to retrieve the Holy Cross and Icon from the water.  The two who get to the Holy 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 

March 10 - Hellenic Third National Assembly in Ermioni - On the second Sunday of March, Ermioni celebrates its 3rd annual local holiday commemorating the Hellenic 3rd National Assembly which was hosted between January and March 1827, during the Greek War of Independence.  The assembly took place on the top floor of the Economou House, now housing the History & Folklore Museum of Ermioni (ILME) in which all the prominent leaders of the Hellenic Revolution met, including the General of all Peloponnesian forces, Theodoros Kolokrotonis.  The events include a liturgy at the Taxiarches church, tributes at the Mitsas memorial and guided tours of the museum.    More images in the picture gallery below.  

March 17 - Carnival - The Carnival parades in Ermioni have been replaced by 'open-air' parties held at the Limani port area on Saturday and Mandrakia on the Sunday.  A Regional Ermionida Carnival parade now takes place in Porto Heli on Sunday, starting 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 very popular throughout Greece during the Venetian period. The feasting and drinking Carnival atmosphere is carried out throughout the whole long weekend.   www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629428016667

March 18 - 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 week and 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 Orthodox Greeks start their 'Great Lent' today by eating only 'pure' foods like cuttlefish, squid, octopus, seafood, taramasalata, and a variety of vegetables served with the Lagana flat-bread.     More images in the picture gallery below.

March 25 - Independence Day - A national holiday which celebrates the start of the rebellion in March 1821 against the Ottoman Empire, that had occupied Greece 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 usually followed by traditional folk dancing by the war memorial.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157678541778064

 May 3 - 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 Holy 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

May 4 - 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 magheritsa 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

May 5 - 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 Polla' 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 21:15.  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 children are lucky enough to join the fishermen in their little boats, who sail around the effigy of Judas, that is positioned in the centre of the harbour.  The fishermen's red flares cast a very dynamic backdrop to the whole event.  Loud music is played from the harbour side, with dynamite explosions in the sea for extra dramatic effect.  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

May 18 & 19 - 'Dionysia 2024' Festival - It is hoped that the 10th annual sports festival weekend, that celebrate the famous athletic games held in ancient Hermione over two thousand years ago, will go ahead, following the previous cancellations due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.  Events began on Saturday with the 2.5km swimming race from the Mandrakia slipway.  The running races are held on Sunday, starting from the Bisti forest area.  A 23km mini-marathon event is held for the serious runners with a 10km run and a 5km 'fun' run for all other contestants, with a 600m race for children.  All who take part in the Dionysia events receive medals. www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157654697365238 and  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157654831449438

June 23 - 'Klidonas' - Festival of St John - Celebrating the birth of John the Baptist by the local community, at the Mandrakia port from 21:00.  'Klidonas' was originally an ancient pagan tradition, that has survived the Christian era to the present day.  The custom is where the village maidens go to the stream or wishing well to fill their urns with 'silent water', later reading aloud their wishes pulled out of the Mystic Urn, in finding their future husbands.  For their prophecy to be granted, the maidens must destroy their water urns.  They then dance around a burning hearth fire, and as a finale, everyone brave enough will jump over the roaring fire for the 'purification' ceremony.   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 3.5kms from Ermioni, this 11th century 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 century monastery church to pray. The whole 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.  Aquine 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 a few nervous horses get blessed outside.  Horses and riders then make their way back to Ermioni or Kranidi to celebrate.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157629546237191

July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni Music Festival - Featuring International, national and local choirs, orchestras, 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 singers and musicians is usually held at the Ag. Gerasimos church on Sunday evening.  Admission is 5 Euros to the Music Festival events.  www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157627345225540

August 14 & 15 - Dormition of the Theotokos (Panaghia) - 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 21:15.  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 28 - 'OXI' Day - This national holiday is celebrated throughout the country.  The day is remembered for General PM Ioannis Metaxas' strong reply of 'OXI' (Ohi meaning No) to Mussolini's ultimatum to allow Italian troops to enter Greece at the beginning of World War II.  Italian forces then invaded Greece, but were driven back into Albania by the much smaller Royal Hellenic Army.  In Ermioni, after 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 young students march past all the Ermionida civic dignitaries who line the Limani port waterfront.    www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/sets/72157627887149571

October 26 & 27 - 13th Pomegranate Festival - The festival starts on Saturday evening with pomegranates being given out and a live music concert.  On Sunday the Limani main street is turned into a display of artwork, with foods/drinks made from pomegranates.  Potted pomegranate trees and music create the ambiance of a 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 whole Ermioni community, in past years included live singing - music groups and traditional folk dancing.   www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157687756585881   

November 8 - Taxiarches Day - This special day, which is only celebrated in Ermioni,  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 Mitsas memorial outside the Museum of History and Folklore.  Following this tribute, a procession (following the Icon of Archangels) makes its way down to the war monument at the Limani harbour.  This procession includes the leading civil, military and religious personnel of Ermionida, usually accompanied by a brass band and military escort.  The procession then returns to the 9th century Byzantine church of Taxiarches (Archangels) to complete the days celebrations.   www.flickr.com/photos/ermioni-info/albums/72157674846584871

December 24 - Christmas Eve - Christmas in Greece is not the big commercial festival that occurs throughout North-Western 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 late 1960's and 70's re-united, with younger singers and musicians joining them, they have continued this historic musical tradition in Ermioni.    More images in the picture gallery below.

Greek Christmas and New Year celebrations - In Greece, the version of Santa Claus is very different to the rest of Western Europe and America.  To Greeks, his name is Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) who according to the Christian Orthodox faith is the predecessor of Santa Claus and celebrated on the 6th of December.  The jolly white bearded man dressed in red became popular during the 19th century, but his story unwinds back much further in history to Bishop Nikolaos, a devoted Greek bishop who lived in the 4th century in the Lycian town of Myra in Asia Minor.  In Greece, the Westernised version of Santa Claus doesn't exist, and children await their beloved Agios Vassilis to bring their gifts on New Year's Day.  Agios Vassilis, more commonly known as Saint Basil,  is usually depicted as a tall, lean, pious figure, dressed in long clergy robes and having a long dark beard.

Saint Basil was the Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.  Born into a wealthy Christian family, he abandoned his legal career to serve the Christian church, becoming a preacher, and then eventually a bishop.  Following his conversion, he gave away all his earthly possessions to the poor and the orphans.  Saint Basil then organised a large humanitarian complex called the Basiliad, which included a soup kitchen, shelter, hospice and hospital for all the needy poor.  In the Greek Orthodox Church it is said that Saint Basil died on 1st January AD 379.  So, each year on New Year's Day, Orthodox Christians celebrate Agios Vassilios, or Saint Basil, in church.  With his tradition of giving to help the poor, particularly children, today's Greeks have determined that he brings gifts on New Year's Eve, not Christmas Eve, so most Greek families continue to exchange their holiday gifts on New Year's Day.

Many Greek Catholics and Christians of the Eastern (Byzantine) Rite, including the ancient monasteries on Mount Athos, still celebrate Christmas according to the old Julian calendar, with Christmas Eve falling on the 6th and Christmas Day on 7th January.  Greece did not change to the modern Gregorian calendar until mid-February 1923. 

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


Ermionida Argolida Peloponnese
37° 23' 8.2428" N, 23° 14' 52.5444" E
Picture Gallery
January 1 - St Basil's day - New Year's os/ermioni-info/albums/72177720312304720 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 March 10 - Anniversary of 1827 3rd National Assembly March 10 - Anniversary of 1827 3rd National Assembly March 10 - Anniversary of 1827 3rd National Assembly March 10 - Anniversary of 1827 3rd National Assembly March 17 - Carnival - Children prepare for the festival March 17 - Carnival - Children getting 'in-tune' March 17 - Carnival - Regional Carnival held in Porto Heli March 17 - Carnival - Regional Carnival held in Porto Heli March 18 - Clean Monday - A time for kite flying March 18 - Clean Monday - Flying kites on Pronos hill March 18 - Clean Monday - Up, up and away! March 18 - 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 May 2 - Holy Thursday - Community getting the Epitaphios ready May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - The Epitaphios in church May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - The Friday morning service May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - Evening service ends with a kiss May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - The evening procession begins May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - Passing through the old village May 3 - Good (Great) Friday - Epitaphios carried by the local men May 4 - Midnight Easter Saturday - 'Christos Anesti!' by candlelight May 5 - Easter Sunday - Everywhere the smell of roast lamb May 5 - Easter Sunday - Preparing the Easter meal including kokoretsi May 5- Easter Sunday - An Easter drink with friends May 5- Easter Sunday - Time to 'crack' the red Easter eggs May 5 - Easter Sunday - Music and dancing to end the day May 5 - 'Burning of Judas' - evening of Easter Sunday - The fishermen arrive May 5 - 'Burning of Judas' - evening of Easter Sunday - The fireworks begins May 5 - 'Burning of Judas' - evening of Easter Sunday - Fireworks 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 church June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Blessing of the bread June 28 - St.Peter & St.Paul festival - Iliokastro 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 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Opening night July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Choir from Ermionida July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - International guest choirs July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Folk evening at Mandrakia July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Ermioni folk dancing group July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Traditional Greek songs July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival - Rebetika finale July 20 to 28 - 18th Ermioni music festival finale - 'The Music Master' August 14 - Dormition of Panaghia - The evening service August 14 - Dormition of Panaghia - Blessing of the Holy bread August 14 - Dormition of Panaghia - Epitaphios carried back to the church   August 14 - Dormition of Panaghia - Distribution of the blessed bread August 15 - Dormition of Panaghia Day - The morning service August 15 - Dormition of Panaghia Day - Morning service concludes with Holy communion October 26 and 27 - The 13th annual Ermioni pomegranate festival October 26 and 27 - Selection of cakes and sweets made with pomegranates October 26 and 27 - Pomegranates mixed with yoghurt and fruits October 26 and 27 - Dishes made and available to sample October 26 and 27 - Ermioni Pomegranate festival table displays October 26 and 27  - Ermioni Pomegranate festival table displays October 28 - 'Oxi' Day - The parade to the war memorial   October 28 - 'Oxi' Day - Mayors speech at the war memorial October 28 - 'Oxi' Day - Children march past the town's dignitaries  October 28 - 'Oxi' Day - Parade by the older students November 8 - Taxiarches Day - The band play the National Anthem November 8 - Taxiarches Day - The floral bier outside Taxiarches church 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 - 'Kantadoroi' carols next to 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 - A 'Silent night' in Ermioni