About festivals in general
A festival (panigiri) is a celebratory event usually dedicated to the patron or patroness saint of a village or a city quarter. As events, these festivals first appeared in the first quarter of the 19th century.
It consists of three parts:
The Religious Part: With a vesper and a liturgy at the temple of the celebrated saint mass followed by a litany.
The Entertainment Part: With music usually performed by traditional instruments, accompanied by dance, on the eve and on the day of the celebration.
The Commercial/Economical Part: With open air fairs, usually just outside the church, where the guests can buy various goods.
The festival was a meeting place for people of the surrounding villages. At the same time, it was the only means of entertainment, along with weddings and christenings. Furthermore, it was an occasion where boys and girls of the village or villages could meet each other and many times these meeting resulted in weddings, due to the fact that the strict customs and ethics of the old days rendered the communication between young people extremely hard’
Some other features of the festivals that were still preserved just a few years ago in Lefkada were the strict compliance with the proper order by which different groups were dancing, the song requests and the “hartoura”, that is the money that the groups of dancers offered to the musicians.
Over the last years the form of the festivals has changed, but they still remain an occasion for entertainment for both locals and visitors.
The changes mainly concern a connection of the festivals with tourism but also with the feeling of nostalgia for the birthplace. Therefore, in many cases festivals are organised to attract tourists while many cultural clubs hold festivals as an excuse to reunite the locals that have migrated. Finally, there are also festivals about local products, like the Honey Feast, the Feast of Lentils etc.
Traditional festivals in Lefkada
Festivals in Lefkada are one of the most important forms of entertainment for the locals and the guests, mainly during the summer months and especially in the villages of the south-eastern part of the island, which was the birthplace of the best musicians of Lefkada.
The festivals fall into two categories: the religious ones that are dedicated to celebrating saints and the purely tourist festivals that promote local products to the island’s guests.
The main religious festivals of the island are:
- Of Agii Apostoli in Fryni on the 30th of June
- Of Agia Kyriaki in Vlyho on the 7th of July
- Of Agia Marina in Vafkeri on the 17th of July
- Of Agios Ilias in Fterno on the 20th of July
- Of Agia Paraskevi in Platystoma on the 26th of July
- Of Metamorfosis Sotirosin Nikiana on the 6th of August
- Of Agios Spyridon in Karya on the 12th of August
- Of Kimisi Theotokou in Evgiros on the 15th of August
- Of Kimisi Panagias in Egklouvi on the 15th of August
- Of Kimisi Panagias in Kalamitsi on the 15th of August
- Of Agios Dionysios in Rahi on the 24th of August
- Of Genisi Theotokou in Syvros on the 8th of September
- Of Agios Gerasimos in Haradiatika on the 20th of October
Other events related with the promotion of the island’s products are:
- The Feast of Lentils associated with the festival of Metamorfosi Sotiros and Agios Donatos on the 6th of August
- The Honey Feast in Dragano
- The Olive oil Pie Feast in Lazarata
- The Grape Harvesting Feast in Apolpena
- The Fish Feast in Lygia
- The Riganada Feast in Karya
Furthermore, there are some festivals organised by the local Cultural Clubs in various villages such as Marantohori, Agios Petros, Vournikas etc.
Make sure to attend such an event while you are visiting Lefkada.