Most people visiting our authentic Greek islands are seeking peace and tranquillity, an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But sometimes you might want to experience a different aspect of Greek life.
Traditional celebrations are a huge part of Greek culture, with singing, dancing and feasting going on long into the night. After all, Greeks have been partying since the dawn of western civilisation, so they’ve got it down to a fine art!
We’ve covered the main festivals and cultural events of Tilos and Halki in previous articles. Now it’s time for Nisyros. If you want to time your visit with some of the island’s major celebrations, here’s an overview of Nisyros festivals held during the holiday season.
Orthodox Easter & Holy Week
Spring is one of the best times to visit Nisyros, especially if you want to take advantage of the island’s delightful walking routes before the sultry heat of summer. It also gives you the opportunity to experience the biggest celebration in the Greek calendar: Orthodox Easter. (Orthodox Easter usually falls about a week after Catholic Easter; check dates carefully before booking.)
Festivities begin on Holy Thursday. Easter bread and cookies are baked and eggs dyed red to symbolise the blood of Christ. The death of Christ is honoured with a day of mourning and solemn processions on Good Friday, before preparations for the Easter feast start Saturday morning.
The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated on Saturday night at a long mass; it’s the most important religious day of the year in Greece. Just before midnight, all lights are extinguished except the Eternal Flame burning at the altar. At midnight, the priest proclaims Christos Anesti (Christ is risen) and lights the lambada (traditional candle) of the closest person with the Eternal Flame. This is passed from person to person until everybody’s candles are lit. Then the evening goes off with a bang as fireworks and firecrackers explode outside.
Ears ringing, families return home to break their fast with a traditional meat broth, before the main feast on Easter Sunday where a spit-roast lamb or goat takes centre stage.
On the Tuesday following Easter, a special festival is held in Nisyros at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria.
June Festivities in Nisyros
If you’re visiting Nisyros in June, you may wish to time your visit with these two celebrations.
On 20–21 June, the patron saint of Nisyros, Ayios Nikitas, is celebrated in the village of Mandraki.
At the end of the month, head to Pali in the north of the island to join the celebrations for the Saints Apostles on 30 June.
Nisyros Festivals during July
Regular visitors to Tilos will be familiar with Ayios Pandeleimonas as the patron saint of the island. But if you find yourself on Nisyros on 26–27 July, you’ll also find celebrations, albeit a little more modest, taking place at Avlaki on the southern tip of the island.
Festivals in Nisyros in August
Aside from Easter, August is the biggest month for celebrations on Nisyros. The day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Panagia, is celebrated throughout Greece on 15 August. But these celebrations are extra special on Nisyros, with pilgrims coming from throughout the Dodecanese to the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani in Mandraki for the largest and most important of all Nisyros festivals.
On 15 August, a procession leads from the monastery, through Mandraki, to the Zisimopoulio Theatre. That night, the central square is alive with feasting, singing and dancing, including the famous ‘Cup of the Virgin’, where the lead dancer holds a mug into which everybody who joins the dance throws money for the monastery and island.
Smaller celebrations take place at the Monastery of Panagia Kyra on the same days. At the same location on 22–23 August, a second celebration is held to mark nine days since the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, known as the afterfeast.
Late Summer/Autumn Nisyros Festivals
If you prefer to visit Nisyros during the shoulder seasons but still wish to experience a traditional Greek festival, more opportunities present during September and November.
The mountainous village of Emborios holds a festival in honour of the Virgin Mary’s birth on 8 September. Enjoy festivities with a view on 13–14 September, when a festival is held at the Monastery of Ayios Stavros (Holy Cross) on the southwest of the caldera. And on 25–26 of the month, the festival of St John the Theologian takes place at the Church of Ayios Theologos in Nikia.
On 7–8 November celebrate the Archangel Michael in Emborios, or visit Nikia on 21 November for the Presentation of the Virgin Mary.
Experience Nisyros Festivals with Nissia Holidays
So what might you expect when witnessing a festival on Nisyros? With customs passed from generation to generation, experiencing a traditional Greek festival gives you a window to the island’s past. Traditional costumes are often worn, while dancing and singing play an important role. Look out for the traditional instruments, the violin, the santouri and the lute. And expect lots of delicious food. Opa!
While we’ve covered the main Nisyros festivals here, smaller celebrations take place throughout the season – just ask us if you’d to experience a traditional Greek celebration in Nisyros during your holiday.
For more information or to book your holiday in Nisyros, contact Nissia Holidays on 01455 289421 or email us: email@example.com.