Greeks celebrate Apokries (carnival) during the three weeks preceding Lent, when the devout then begin a 40-day fast in the run up to Easter. Although the country’s biggest carnivals are held in Patras, 215 km (134 miles) west of Athens, the capital also sees festivities, notably in the neighbourhoods of Plaka and Moschato, with parties and fancy dress parades. Carnival ends on Kathari Devtera (Ash Monday), which is a public holiday.Date: 17 February 2019 - 11 March 2019
Venue: Pláka, Moschato and throughout the city.
Greece had been occupied by the Ottoman Turks for almost 400 years, when on 25 March 1821 an uprising began on the Peloponnese. The Greek war for independence ensued (1821-1832), with the Great Powers (Great Britain, France and Russia) sending naval forces to help the Greeks. In Athens, the anniversary of the beginning of the end of Ottoman occupation is celebrated with patriotic military parades.Date: 25 March 2019 - 25 March 2019
Venue: Syntagma Square and throughout the city.
The Greek Orthodox faith's most important celebration sees Athens animated by Good Friday night candlelit processions, and solemn masses on the Saturday, culminating in midnight firework displays to herald Christ’s resurrection. Family lunches of spit-roast lamb take place on Easter Sunday. Greeks greet one another saying, “Hristos anesti” (Christ is risen). Most Athenians leave the capital for their villages over the Easter break and many restaurants close for the weekend.Date: 26 April 2019 - 29 April 2019
Venue: Churches throughout the city.
A public holiday in Greece, Labour Day is celebrated with parades in many cities. The stongest tradition, though, coincides with the height of springtime and the profusion of flowers in the countryside. There is a general exodus out of the towns for picnics and kite-flying, with Athenians favouring the verdant slopes of Mount Parnitha, north of the capital. Flowers are gathered and made into wreaths to decorate houses, cars and even donkeys.Date: 01 May 2019 - 01 May 2019
Venue: Various throughout the country.
European Music Day
The idea of 'Fete de la Musique' was a European initiative, launched in 1982 as the only Pan-European cultural event dedicated to music. Held over the night of the summer solstice (in Athens, it extends to three nights), it brings together traditional music, orchestras, choirs, pop, jazz, rock, rap and techno. In Athens, the festival has taken off like a rocket, giving rise to a three-day party when the squares and parks of the centre are filled with crowds enjoying free concerts into the early hours. Past performers here include the Scissor Sisters and Transglobal Underground.Date: 01 June 2019 - 30 June 2019
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Squares and public spaces in centre; main stage on Kotzia Square.
Free to spectate.
Athens & Epidaurus Festival
Founded in 1955, the summer festival sees world-class concerts, opera, theatre and dance, staged at various open-air venues in Athens, with the main stage in the ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus, below the Acropolis. Past performers have included stars such as Maria Callas and Rudolf Nurejev, and although the economic crisis has seen a reduction in funding, recent names include Jose Carreras, Vanessa Mae, and the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra.Date: 05 June 2019 - 10 August 2019
The premier festival of rock music in Greece takes place north of Athens, in a 15,000-capacity stadium. Founded in 1996, the three-day event attracts big name performers from around the world - the 2012 line-up included Iggy and the Stooges, Paradise Lost and Ozzy Osbourne & Friends. The music line-up is complemented by on-site activities and entertainments such as bungee jumping, stilt walking, a skate park and acrobatic performances - all under the warm Greek sun.Date: 01 July 2019 - 31 July 2019
(Date to be confirmed)
Venue: Terra Vibe.
Oxi Day Parade
For many visitors this might be less of an attraction than something to avoid, as towns and cities all over Greece tend to grind to a halt for a few hours. 28 October is Ochi Day - Ochi meaning No - the anniversary of General Ioannis Metaxas' flat denial to the Italians' request for free passage to invade Greece during WWII. Today it is marked with extravagant military parades involving soldiers, students and tanks along the capital’s main boulevards.Date: 28 October 2019 - 28 October 2019
Venue: Main thoroughfares of Athens.
A sporting event rooted in ancient history, the marathon race was born here in Athens, when the soldier Pheidippides brought news of the Athenian victory over the Persians from the battlefield at Marathon in 490 BC. Today the Athens marathon is run over the same 42.195km (26 miles 385 yards) route followed by Pheidippides, beginning at the ancient battlefield of Marathon and ending at the Panathinaikon Stadium. The route is mainly flat but with hilly stretches in the middle.Date: 10 November 2019 - 10 November 2019
Venue: Marathon to Athens.
Free to spectate.
This day commemorates the student uprising that brought about the eventual fall of the military junta, which controlled Greece from 1967 to 1974. On 17 November 1973, the army sent in a tank and paratroopers to storm Athens Polytechnic, which students had occupied. 24 people were killed in and around the campus. On the anniversary, students and politicians lay wreaths and flowers on the monument to the student martyrs in front of the building.Date: 17 November 2019 - 17 November 2019
Venue: Athens Polytechnic.