Special Events in Athens

Greeks celebrate the Epiphany twelve days after Christmas with traditional celebrations and feasts. The Blessing of the Waters is a central event in which orthodox priests bless a cross and throw it into the sea. Young men dive into the water to retrieve the cross, and the one who does receives a special blessing from the priest. The three-day celebration also includes caroling from house to house and a great feast dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

In March, locals celebrate the start of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. A military parade is held to mark the occasion, and children dress in traditional costumes and wave Greek flags through the streets of Athens.

Carnival, a three-week celebration begins just before Lent each year. Athenians gather in the streets to perform lively plays, dance to traditional music and parade through Moschato. Confetti, masks and costumes abound, giving the carnival a very festive atmosphere.

Clean Monday is a Greek public holiday that signifies the end of Carnival and the beginning of the Lenten season. Feasts are held throughout the city to mark the last day before fasting and include olives, halvah, shrimp, octopus and taramasalata. The sky above the city is filled with colorful kites that are especially beautiful to watch over the Acropolis or on Areopagos Hill.

Each spring, Athens becomes more beautiful than ever during the Feast of the Flowers. The celebration marks the beginning of the season and the goddess Demeter. Floral wreaths mark the doors of houses throughout the city before they are burned during the Feast of Saint John.

Greece's European Music Day is the country's largest annual music event and takes place at the end of June. Music stages are erected all over the city for free concerts by Greek artists and performers from around the continent.

The summertime Epidaurus Festival is one of the most important in Greece. The festival celebrates the country's culture and history with performances of classical theater, traditional music concerts, dance shows, lectures and other free events. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Lycabettus Theatre, the ancient theatres at Epidaurus and the Benaki Museum are the most popular places to experience the festival.

Each year, musicians from around the continent gather in Athens for the European Jazz Festival. Entrance is free, and the best concerts are held at the Technopolis in Gazi. The event also includes traditional foods from participating countries, workshops and lectures.