Carnival Events in Greece

Carnival event, men in traditional carnival costumes walking down the streets

Festival Traditions & Merrymaking

The Carnival festivities in Greece are a great opportunity for people to get together and enjoy themselves in the good old traditional way.

The Patras Carnival is a very popular event in Patras town, N. Peloponnese, with visitors from Greece and abroad. The whole town follows the rhythm of the festivities, where locals & visitors enjoy watching the Opening & Closing Ceremony, the Treasure Hunt Game, the Night Parade, the Big Parade, the Carnival of Children, and more. 

In Thrace region in the Greek north, Xanthi town hosts Xanthiotiko CarnivalThracian Folk Art Festivities, with visitors from inside and outside the country. The events include folk art performances, dancing, visual art exhibitions, concerts by famous Greek artists, and local traditional dishes on offer to everyone. The Children’s Parade is made up of schoolchildren, and the Big Parade is the last one, taking place on the last Carnival Sunday, with masquerades, dancing in the streets and partying all day long. 

Other Carnival customary practices & traditions of a more particular nature take place in other smaller towns. In Galaxidi, a coastal town in Central Greece, Alevromoutzouromata is a very old tradition and the last Carnival celebration to take place on Clean Monday, the first day of the Lent Period before Easter. Locals get in groups out in the streets, armed with bags of flour & soot, streamers and confetti, wearing bells around their waists! They dance on the streets as they head for the harbour area. Once they get there, the battle begins! The participants target each other with the contents of their bags, while dancing to folk tunes. 

In Naousa, Macedonia, Genitsari and Boules is a centuries-old celebration that involves masquerading, full face masking, and patinades (instrumental folk tunes played on weddings). Groups of young unmarried men (genitsari) dress in traditional costumes, and escort Boula (a young man who is impersonating a woman, dressed in a bridal traditional costume), fully masked, across the streets. There’s dancing and teasing along the way, particularly in squares with players of traditional pipes & drums following them all day long. On the last Carnival Sunday, at dusk, the masks are removed and the identity of frolickers is revealed. 

In Zante Island, an elegant Carnival event takes place. It’s the Venetian Wedding, a revival of a 16th century traditional ceremony, a theatrical performance given on the streets. Participants wear beautiful costumes that the then local gentry used to wear and the company is headed by the bride and groom who are announced by drum beaters and flag carriers, while Renaissance music is played. Locals and visitors cheer and clap their hands along the streets as the couple heads for San Marco Square, where the happy event will take place in the presence of the notary, and as per the 16th century customs & traditions. The wedding party follows with more music, dancing and traditional local dishes & confections for everyone.