Have fun celebrating with the local community
Throughout the year, Paros hosts a rich array of festivals and celebrations that capture the essence of the island's traditions, culture, and history. These events unite locals and visitors in the joyous celebration of everyday life.
From religious-inspired festivities to commemoration of historical events and events reviving cultural heritage, the festivals on Paros offer a diverse range of experiences. The Summer Music Festival at the Park enchants visitors with its captivating performances against the backdrop of Naoussa's picturesque bay. Additionally, every church on the island celebrates its patron saint's name day, blending religious rituals with the joy of communal feasting, dancing, and merriment. Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of these festivities, where traditional food, song, and warm hospitality await. You are not only welcome but honoured to partake in these cherished traditions that reflect the true spirit of Paros.
Here are some of the notable festivals and celebrations that take place on Paros:
Christmas Holidays (Christougena):
While traditionally overshadowed by Easter in Greece, Christmas is still marked by religious services and feasting. In recent years, Western influences have brought increased importance to Christmas celebrations. The island's settlements are illuminated and decorated, often with trees replacing the once-central Christmas boat decorations. Parikia organizes a Christmas Bazaar and White Night event, with shops staying open late and food, drinks, and handicraft kiosks lining Market Street. Choirs and music bands add to the festive atmosphere.
Every other village also has a Christmas program with nativity scenes, concerts, plays etc...
1st January - New Year's Day or Proto Chronia
Greeks traditionally exchange presents brought by Agios Vassilis on New Year's Day. A special cake called Vasilopita is baked with a hidden coin inside. Whoever receives the coin is believed to have a year of good luck.
6th January - Epiphany – Theophania or Phota
This celebration commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Across the country, rivers, lakes, and seas are blessed by immersing a cross in the water. In Parikia and Naoussa, a cross is thrown into the sea, and young men, and occasionally women, dive in to retrieve it.
February (70 days before Oriental Easter) - Start of Carnival period or Apokries
The three-week Carnival period provides an opportunity for the people of Paros to entertain themselves. Traditional celebrations intertwine with Western influences. The archaic dance "Ageranos" and its accompanying songs are still performed. People compose verses on the spot for jokes, flirtation, and love messages. Throughout this period, but especially in the last week, fancy dress parties and masked balls are held privately and publicly. The last weekend of Carnival is particularly lively, with masked parties hosted by numerous bars and cafés. Purists take to the streets with hornpipes and doubakia (goblet drums), enjoying the festivities until the early morning.
February or March (middle of Carnival) - Tsiknopemti
Tsiknopemti, also known as Smokey Thursday, marks the last day before Lent when red meat is traditionally consumed before Easter. Barbecues and indulgence in grilled meats are prevalent on this day. It is not uncommon to be invited to join impromptu street barbecues, creating clouds of mouthwatering smoke that waft over the island.
March (48 days before Easter) - Kathara Deftera or Clean Monday
Clean Monday marks the beginning of a 48-day period of Lent called Sarakosti, leading up to Easter. It is similar to the Western observance of Ash Wednesday. This day is associated with fasting-friendly foods such as octopus, calamari, taramosalata, and Lagana, the unleavened bread specific to Clean Monday. Picnics and grand feasts take place, often accompanied by wine. Kite flying is a popular activity, particularly in Aliki, where the skies are filled with homemade kites. Children create "Kyria Sarakosti," a seven-legged doll representing the seven weeks of Lent, removing one leg each week until Easter arrives. The Lenten period involves abstaining from consuming red blood (meat, fish) and products derived from creatures with red blood (dairy, eggs).
25th March - Greek Independence Day and the Feast of Annunciation or Evagelismos
This day commemorates the start of the War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. A parade takes place along the seafront of Parikia to honour this significant event.
Palm Sunday or Kyriaki Ton Vaïon: One week before Easter, Palm Sunday marks the start of "Megali Evdomada" or Holy Week. Children participate in liturgical processions, singing songs related to Easter as they carry palm leaves.
Good Thursday or Megali Pemti
On Good Thursday evening, churches remain open, and people stay up all night next to the crucified Jesus, decorating epitaphs.
Good Friday or Megali Paraskevi
Candlelit processions are held throughout the country, with icons and shrouded biers carried through the streets. In Parikia and Naoussa, the epitaph processions of different churches converge at their respective ports, where church choirs offer prayers. Marpissa, Prodromos, and Marmara feature the "Representation of the Passion of the Christ", with various scenes enacted along the procession route. These scenes include the "Entrance of Christ in Jerusalem," "Magdalene's Remorse," "The Last Supper," "Pontius Pilate," "Crucifixion," and "Removal of Christ from the Cross."
Holy Saturday or Megalo Savato
Holy Mass is followed by darkness, symbolizing Jesus' journey through the underworld. Fireworks illuminate the night sky, and the one true flame, symbolizing Jesus' resurrection, is distributed. Candles are lit from the holy flame and carried through the streets, used to mark burnt crosses above front doors as protection against evil spirits. People greet each other with the phrase "Christos Anesti" (Christ is risen), to which the reply "Alithos Anesti" (truly He is) is given. The Lenten fast is broken with dyed red eggs and the special Easter Soup of "Magiritsa," traditionally made from lamb offal. Festivities continue into the early hours, marked by feasting, drinking, and dancing.
Easter Sunday or Kyriaki tou Pascha
Easter Sunday is dedicated to celebration. Traditionally, a whole lamb or goat is roasted on a spit over an open fire. Feasting, drinking, and dancing fill the day and often extend into the late hours. Marpissa's square hosts the lively "Merrymaking of Love" event, featuring dancers from Naoussa's Music Dancing Groups performing Balos and Syrtos dances.
1st May - May Day or Labour Day
May Day is a time for picnics and the creation of decorative wreaths from wildflowers.
8th May - Festival of Saint John the Theologian
This festival takes place in Drios.
June - Pentecost Monday or Agio Pnevma
Celebrated on a Monday fifty days after Easter, Pentecost Monday is a public holiday that marks the start of the summer season.
23rd June - Festival of Klidonas or Agios Yannis (Summer Solstice)
The Festival of Klidonas is celebrated in Naoussa, Aliki (Festival of Agios Yannis), and Prodromos. Mayday wreaths are burned, and bonfire jumping takes place. Girls bring "speechless water" as part of the traditions.
End June - Festival at the Park
The Festival at the Park takes place in Kolimbithres, near Naoussa. It features performances in an amphitheatre carved into the rocks, offering a unique view of Naoussa Bay. The festival showcases diverse artistic experiences and high-quality recreation, encompassing music, architecture, literature, arts and crafts, religion, and local traditions.
June 30th - Eve of Agii Anargiri
Celebrated at the monastery of Agii Anargiri in Parikia.
2nd July - Festival of Fish and Wine
This festival, held in Naoussa, celebrates the island's seafood and wine. The date may vary each year.
16th & 17th July - Agia Marina
The two-day festival in Antiparos features festivities, fireworks, and a grand feast.
Agia Marina is also celebrated on the 17th July in Kostos.
17th July - Revival of Tsabouna
Naoussa hosts a festival dedicated to the Tsabouna, a bagpipe made from goatskin that is prevalent in the Cyclades.
Find out more about the Tsabouna
Middle of July - Paros Festival
Paros Festival is a three-day cultural event held in Parikia. It aims to promote the island's diverse cultural heritage through concerts, exhibitions, screenings, discussions, lectures, guided tours, educational programs, workshops with local craftsmen, and various participatory events.
Find out more
24th July - Agia Anna
Celebrated in Parikia.
6th August - Tou Sotira, Festival of Sotiras
This festival takes place in Alyki and Marpissa.
15th July - Analipsi tis Panagias or Assumption of Mary
This traditional festival celebrates the Ascension of the Virgin Mary to Heaven. Pilgrims from all over Greece gather at the Church of a Hundred Doors (Ekatontapyliani) in Parikia to pray. A parade starts at the church and proceeds to Zoodocho Pigi, the island's second-largest church, before returning to Ekatontapyliani. Fishing boats, motorboats, and seaworthy vessels take to the bay, creating a festive atmosphere. Fireworks light up the sky, making for a spectacular display.
22nd & 23rd August - Corsairs' Night Event or Eniamera tis Panagias
Naoussa combines the celebration of the Virgin with the reenactment of Barbarossa's pirate raid in 1537, which took place nine days after Parikia's celebration.
These festivals and celebrations on Paros provide a vibrant and diverse cultural tapestry for locals and visitors to immerse themselves in, making their time on the island even more memorable.