If there’s one thing all tourists to Greece should experience then that definitely is the open-air summer festivals known as “panegyria”.
Every island has its own traditions but overall these summer feasts are usually held in honor of a patron saint and feature lots of food, wine, song and dance. Set in village squares or next to a celebrating church or chapel, the summer festival includes large tables in rows where guests partake in island revelry.
The “panegyri” experience offers insight into the village life of yesteryear as these were the times work and problems were left behind and carefree moments took center stage. The islanders would also put differences aside and meet, eat, dance and be jolly.
For the month of August and particularly on and around the 15th of August, marking the Assumption of the Virgin Mary — one of the largest religious celebrations in Greece — many islands host some of the country’s greatest festivals.
Top “panegyri” spots: Ikaria – with the two most popular being the ones in Lagadas and Yialiskari, Karpathos, Syros, Folegandros, Sikinos, Thassos, Kea, Amorgos, Paros, Mykonos, Naxos, Tinos, Nisyros Koufnisia and Lesvos.
If you are on any of the above mentioned islands, you’ll probably see posters advertising the event. Go a bit ahead of time to find a seat as most islanders will have probably kept whole tables for families and friends. Better yet find a local and go together. Each island and then each village serves up their local wine and delicacies to the music of live bands.