Athens Events and Public Holidays

If visiting Athens it helps to know when major events and public holidays take place, as some shops and attractions may be closed, but to be there at times like Easter can make for a magical trip.

Red Greek Easter EggsGreek Easter Eggs Are Red!

EVENTS

February/March

Carnival is not as big in Greece as it is in, say, Venice or the Caribbean, but they do still celebrate it. You'll find music in the streets of Athens, especially around the Plaka district, with children in costume and people hitting each other on the head with plastic hammers. This can seem very odd at first, till you discover it's a tradition.

The Greek name for it is apokries, which means 'without meat', just as the word carnival comes from the Latin, carnem levare, which also means going without meat. That's why food also plays a big part in the carnival celebrations, along with music, dancing and street parties.

The big day is the Sunday immediately before the start of Lent, and this falls seven weeks before Easter Sunday (see below for Easter information).

March

Independence Day

March 25 sees the first really big event of the year, celebrating the start of the revolt against the years of Turkish rule in Greece. There are lots of parades and festivities, especially outside the Greek Parliament building on Syntagma Square. It's also a public holiday, and for a full list of public holidays see below.

Independence Day in Athens

April

Easter

Easter is the biggest religious celebration in Greece and a time when it's a joy to be there, whether you're religious or not. There are religious processions through the streets, which are shown live on TV, and Athens is one of the biggest Easters in the country. There are fireworks at night, flares, even dynamite might get thrown as the Greeks go crazy at Easter.

Greek Easter usually falls in April, though not always, and it doesn't usually coincide with the dates of the western European Easter, so if you want to visit Athens at Easter check the dates carefully first. You can find the dates for the next few years here. Also see our separate Easter in Athens page.

Easter in Athens

May

Labour Day

May 1 is a public holiday and there are workers' parades through the streets. In Greece it's called Ergatikí Protomagiá, which means The Workers' First of May.

May/June

Whit Monday

Fifty days after Easter Sunday the Greeks are celebrating again with a national holiday and more street parades and parties, both public and private. The Greek name for it is Deftéra Pentikostís (Pentecost Monday).

Summer

The Athens and Epidaurus Festival

Beginning in late May and running through till early October (though dates vary slightly so check www.greekfestival.gr for up-to-date information) is this big annual arts festival. As well as the best in Greek classical arts, recent visitors have included the Bolshoi Ballet, the English National Ballet and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Many events take place in the ancient Odeon (Theatre) of Herodes Atticus and some in the wonderful setting of the theatre at Epidaurus. A special box office is usually opened for the duration of the festival at Stadiou 4 (tel: 210 928 2900).

Odeon of Herodes Atticus in AthensOdeon of Herodes Atticus

The Lycabettus Festival

This is part of the Athens Festival umbrella, but events in the outdoor theatre on Lycabettus Hill are more modern. Franz Ferdinand is one of the many bands who have played, and there are contemporary theatre and dance performances too, but also a few traditional Greek musical and performance offerings (www.greekfestival.gr).

June

Music Day

June 21-23 is when Athens joins in a Europe-wide celebration of music with hundreds of groups and solo artists playing at venues throughout the city. There's jazz, rock, traditional Greek music - everything from children's choirs to the Scissor Sisters! www.musicday.gr

Rockwave

Moby, Twisted Sister, Calexico, Eric Burdon, Robert Plant, The Cure, Blur and Black Sabbath have all been among the headliners at this annual rock music festival that takes place at the Terra Vibe centre, out of the city centre on the Lamia road. Expect acrobats, bungee jumping and other fun stuff too (tel: 210 882 0426; www.didimusic.gr/rockwave).

The Arctic Monkeys Perform at the 2018 Rockwave Festival in Athens

October

Ochi Day

October 28 is the last public holiday before Christmas, and another day when you'll find an amazing atmosphere in the Greek capital. October's usually a good time to visit as the intense heat of the summer will be over but it should still be pleasantly warm, though you might get a bit of rain

Ochi (or Ohi or Oxi) Day commemorates the day in 1940 when the Italian leader Mussolini demanded that the Greeks allow German and Italian troops to enter their territory, and the Greek leader Metaxas said emphatically Ochi! No! In fact his reply was a little longer but a simple 'no' makes it more dramatic and memorable. You'll come across military and other parades, and a lot of proud and patriotic Greeks.

The Story of Ochi Day

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Shops and some public services might close down for public holidays, but restaurants, museums and public transport generally keep operating. There are no hard rules in Athens, though. People do what they feel like doing on the day.

January 1 New Year's Day

January 6 Epiphany

March 25 Independence Day

First Monday in Lent (Shrove Monday)

Good Friday

Easter Monday

May 1 Labour Day

Whit Monday

August 15 The Feast of the Assumption

October 28 Ochi Day

December 25 and 26 Christmas

Don't miss this visual tour of Athens with photos by Donna Dailey of Greece Travel Secrets.

Some other Athens pages

  • A Drive around Attica

    This drive around Attica offers visitors high hills, beach resorts, small villages and classical sites like Marathon and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

  • Athens to Santorini

    There are lots of flights from Athens to Santorini as well as a ferry service from Piraeus, with flights to Santorini leaving from Athens International Airport.

  • Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus

    If you're wondering where to eat in Athens and Piraeus we have a few suggestions including some favorites around the Acropolis, Omonia Square, and Syntagma.

  • Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens

    Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens include eating in the Central Market, watching the sun set over the Acropolis and seeing one of the world's oldest theatres.

  • Marathon

    The ancient site of Marathon and the site of the Battle of Marathon are in Attica and naturally about 26 miles or 42 kilometres from the centre of Athens.

  • Cape Sounion and the East Coast

    The beach resorts of Athens are easily reached from the city and also close are Cape Sounion with the Temple of Poseidon, ancient Marathon and Rafina's port.

  • Piraeus

    Piraeus is the port of Athens from where many ferries to the Greek islands depart, and it also has an Archaeological Museum and the Hellenic Maritime Museum.

  • Pictures of Athens

    Pictures of Athens from the Greece Travel Secrets website

  • National Archaeological Museum

    The National Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to see in Athens, and the best museum in the world for seeing Greece's archaeological treasures.

  • My Athens: a Portrait by Travel Writer Mike Gerrard

    In My Athens on Greece Travel Secrets travel writer Mike Gerrard describes what he loves about Athens including the Acropolis and eating!

  • Monastiraki Flea Market

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Monastiraki Flea Market, followed by Sunday lunch at Sigalas on Monastiraki Square

  • Monastiraki and Around

    Around Monastiraki is the flea market, Athens cathedral, Kerameikos Cemetery, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and the Psirri and Gazi nightlife districts.

  • A History of Athens

    A History of Athens from the first people to live on the Acropolis through the Golden Age of Pericles and Alexander the Great to the military junta.

  • Greek Architecture

    This beginner's guide to Greek architecture explains how to tell your Ionic from your Doric columns, and what to look for in temples and Byzantine churches.

  • Entertainment in Athens

    There's all kinds of entertainment in Athens whether you're interested in theatre, dance, classical music, jazz, Greek music, rock music, disco, opera or movies.

  • Easter in Athens

    Easter in Athens is, like everywhere in Greece, the biggest religious celebration of the year and this page tells you what to expect over the Easter weekend.

  • The Best Things to Do in Athens

    The best things to do in Athens, Greece, include top archaeological sites like the Acropolis and must-see attractions such as the National Archaeological Museum

  • Best Cocktail Bars in Athens

    Two of the best cocktail bars in Athens, MoMix Kerameikos and The Clumsies, are making creative cocktails using that most Greek of Greek spirits, Metaxa.

  • Athens: Travel Information and Advice about Athens, Greece

    Athens is a top vacation destination. The Greece Travel Secrets Athensguide has information on hotels, museums, Athens airport and all the best things to do.

  • Athens Weather and the Best Time to Visit

    The Greece Travel Secrets website looks at the Athens weather, the chance of rain, the climate in summer and winter and the best time to visit Athens.

  • Athens Walking Tours and Other Experiences

    Athens walking tours and other experiences like cookery lessons, ceramics workshops, dining with a family, and street art are available from Alternative Athens

  • Athens International Airport

    Athens International Airport is east of Athens city centre with its own Metro train station, buses to Athens and Piraeus, taxis and car rental offices.

  • Athens in the Rain

    Athens in the rain isn’t something you’re likely to experience but here are suggestions for things to do in the rain in Athens including museums and shopping

  • Athens Food Tours

    Athens Food Tours are being introduced by new company The Greek Fork, and will include tours of the Central Market, and the best street food.

  • Athens Eaters Guide

    Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City, is published by Culinary Backstreets, who do walking food tours in Athens and the book recommends the best places to eat.

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