It surely is a strange idea! What can a visitor do on an island during the winter? And especially on an island that is famous for its summer beauty, like the gorgeous beachside. Maybe it is time for you to experience all this beauty in the winter in order to understand that this is an island for all seasons! One of its great advantages is that you do not have to travel by boat and suffer all the consequences of a stormy sea. You can just reach the island by land!
In the city
The city of Lefkada will welcome you and warm you with a hot beverage in one of the many cafés of the seaside and the main market street. After that you can wander around the picturesque small streets, without the crowds of the summer, and feel the beauty of the place with all your senses. Smell the scent of wood in the air and the fresh cooked food in the narrow streets, watch the colours and observe the unique architecture of the city houses, listen to the sound of rain upon your umbrella as you get lost into the labyrinth of the town, attend the teasing discussions of the “buranelli”* at the cafés, taste the exceptional Lefkadian delicacies at the small taverns.
Cultural and other events in the winter
On the poets’ island there are many cultural and other events even in the winter. For example, you can choose to watch selected movies from the international film production at the Cinema Club of the Orfeas Literature and Music Club. You can get informed about various themes and attend lectures, innovatively organised book presentations, photography and painting exhibitions etc, but also many other events and music happenings that take place in the bars all winter long.
And then you can take a tour to the religious, historical and cultural monuments that are open in winter and wait for you. Even in the villages the local cultural clubs always find the opportunity to organise gatherings of every kind, from informational meetings to dances and feasts.
Photography in the wild nature
Just have your photographic camera ready to capture the greatness of nature that appears in front of you. The steep western coasts, the famous beaches, the endless blue of the Ionian Sea, the impressive lighthouse of cape Lefkatas are dressed in winter colours, caressed by the wind and the sea and turn into an amazing, breathtaking scenery.
The imposing cape of Lefkatas with the lighthouse, covered with legends that take you back into time will make not only a photographer but also a writer out of you because it will stimulate your imagination. You can even call this kind of photography an extreme sport but, surely, if you are careful, you will not be able to stop taking pictures of landscapes that you would not believe that anybody could reach. You can also visit the monastery of Agios Nikolaos at Nira, hidden into an enchanting location that smells of history, honey and piety.
After that you can share your pictures with us, if you wish so, at the biggest facebook group about photographs of Lefkada and has more than 10.000 members.
Winter walks in the villages
The smell of burning wood, the small traditional cafés with the woodstoves, the steaming Greek coffee and the stories of the elderly people offer an alternative way of vacations. In the villages of the eastern and the western coast, but mainly in the inland there are small refuges of memories and warmth that wait for you. In most of the villages there are small taverns open in winter that offer cooked food, fresh meat dishes and Lefkadian wine. In the eastern villages, the picturesque small ports provide the perfect location for long walks by the sea.
In Nydri and Vasiliki you can experience night life in the bars even in winter with beautiful music nights or participate in the events of the local cultural clubs. In the picturesque inland, which is full of magic no matter which time of the year you choose to visit it, there are wonderful small villages hidden within the winter mist that creates a fairytale scenery. The forests and the nature will calm you and invite you to wander around the picturesque paths. In Karya you can visit the local folklore museums and buy the traditional needlework of the village.
In autumn there is the grape harvesting. In winter the lovers of agricultural tourism or the ones who just want to experience something different there is the gathering of olives that starts in November and finishes around the end of January. Furthermore, the nature lovers can have an amazing experience at the lentil fields, on the famous plateau of Agios Donatos, where the best lentils of the world grow, namely the lentils of Egklouvi. Winter is the starting time the procedure that results in the production of the tasty seed. The producers are more than willing to introduce you to their secrets and let you experience their laborious but pleasant work.
Carnival -“ Koulouma” (Celebrations of Clean Monday) in Lefkada
At the heart of winter, the most funny celebration of the year comes to awake you from hibernation. The Carnival. In Lefkada we use the word “Faromanito”, a word that comes from the Venetian Rule years and means “the noise of laughter and joy”. The Carnival on the island is full of fun, Lefkadian liveliness, jokes, dance that can easily entice you into joining in.
There are carnival events held in the city of Lefkada, starting on “Tsiknopempti” (Thursday of the smoke of grilled meat) 11 days before Clean Monday with the arrival of the Carnival King’s float and the general celebratory atmosphere of the whole town that lives in the rhythm of “Faromanita”. Next there is the children’s carnival and then the Great Parade on the last Sunday of the Carnival on the central market street and the Carnival dances of the Cultural Centre, the Philharmonic Society and the Cultural Clubs that remind us of the good old days. Naturally, the atmosphere in the bars and the taverns of the town is extremely celebratory with many happenings and costume contests.
Carnival events are organised in Nydri with a feast on “Tsiknopempti”, a carnival parade and consecutive parties in the night clubs. Furthermore, in the traditional village of Karya the locals are grilling meat at the central square with the plane trees and the local cultural clubs co organise a great feast where they present customs from all around Greece and party in every occasion.
The traditional feast on the last Sunday in Marantohori is also an institution. It is organised by the local cultural club and it takes place whatever the weather conditions may be. Feasts and celebrations are held in every village with the care of the local cultural clubs and there is always a very hospitable and welcoming atmosphere.
On Clean Monday both locals and guests stay outdoors in nature, with sun or rain, to say goodbye to the Carnival and welcome the Lent with local fasting delicacies, feasts and the traditional custom of flying kites at the events that the local cultural clubs organise all through the island, both in the city and the countryside. The celebration of the Clean Monday is the precursor of spring. A great variety of small fish taverns at every port of the island and on the beaches will offer you fine fasting delicacies.
(*) Buranelli: a name for the residents of the town of Lefkada. It comes from the era of the Venetian Rule (1684-1797). In Venice there is Burano, an island of poor fishermen and the locals are still called “Buranelli”. It is said that some of them came to Lefkada back then, where they also found a town of fishermen and gave their name to the locals. The people of the villages of Lefkada mockingly call the residents of the town of Lefkada “B(u)ranelli” while the latter scornfully call the villagers “peasants”.