Naxos, the largest island of the Cyclades, is one of the few places in Greece that keeps alive ancient Greek customs and traditions that are revived during Carnival.
The Carnival (Apokries) is a huge celebration for the whole island.
Dionysus, Ariadne, Poseidon, Amphitrite, Satyrs, Maenads, Koudounati, Kordelati, Foustanelades and Lampadifori are the stars of this most unique carnival in Greece!
Calendar of Events
The curtain opens and Naxos, from Tsiknopempti until Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera), turns into an interactive scene with traditional entertainment and events that derive from the long history and tradition of the island...
The Dionysian Carnival of Naxos includes an extensive program of events prompting everyone to a no holds barred celebration...
From the quaint villages to the Venetian Castle, the myths of "Dionysus and Ariadne" and "Poseidon and Amphitrite", to the colors of the Kordelati and the sounds of the Koudounati, the celebrations include traditional fetes in the villages reviving Dionysian customs to the Lampadifories and the Grand Carnival Parade in Chora along with many surprises.
"Poseidon and Amphitrite in Naxos"
The performance will take place on the main promenade of Chora Naxos, on Friday February 24th at 9:00 in the evening.
"Poseidon, god of the sea, traveling on his golden chariot on the waves, arrived in Naxos ... There, he stopped on one of the great beaches of the island and as he was sitting on a rock, a cheerful gang of gorgeous girls - Niriides- appeared playing, dancing and laughing ... The most beautiful of all, Amphitrite, rocked the heart of Poseidon ... "
Immediately after the performance a feast with traditional music and dance will follow at the main square near the port.
Lampadifories (torch bearing parade)
Starting at the Venetian castle of the island to the central promenade, the Lampadifori will rouse the entire island!
On Saturday the 25th of February at 7:00 in the evening, all roads lead to the Castle for the preparations of the happening.
White sheets, black and white paint, hay, lit torches, the sound of drums and the shouts of hundreds of people taking part in the ritual, are the setting of each Lampadiforia ...
The narrow alleys of the Castle come alive, filled with light and the roar of shouts, screams, chants and the percussion sounds of the Lampadifori that carry through the city's main streets to the promenade, to reach its final point, the main square. There, the ritual ends in a frenzy with the burning of the scarecrow and a feast of traditional music with tsabouna and doubakia.
Grand Carnival Parade
The Carnival festivities culminate on Sunday February 26th at 11:00 in the morning, with the Grand Carnival Parade through the main streets of Naxos.
Based on and inspired by the myths of "Dionysus and Ariadne" and "Poseidon and Amphitrite", the Carnival offers a chance for the revival of these legends through a group of participants creating images of dance, fun and parody. Local associations, organizations and groups of people in themed customes participate, with floats inspired by local, national and international headlines offering plenty of laughter and fun.
Apokries in the villages of Naxos
The many picturesque villages of the island where the locals maintain with great zeal the traditional customs, Carnival season is a special occasion. On Thursday the 16th of February, Filoti hosts the celebration of Tsiknopempti. There they revive "Hoirosfagia" a custom that goes back centuries with local dishes, good Naxian wine, and a traditional feast.
Sounds and colors of the Koudounati, Foustanelati and Kordelati
The village squares fill with traditional costumes, colors, sounds and dances. In the highland villages, like Apeiranthos, Filoti and Koronos, the "Koudounati" are the main attraction... Men, young and old, belted with bells, holding the "sompa" (Dionysian phallus), create a deafening sound in the graphics alleys and streets of the villages greeting spring and exorcising all evil spirits.
The Koudounati of Apeiranthos begin their preparation at 1:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, February the 26th, while later in a traditional, festive and unique atmosphere, the village is shaken by the bells, music and dance!
In the lowland villages of Agios Arsenios, Tripodes, Galini, Egares, Melanes, Kourounochori and Kinidaros, the impressive "Kordelati" and "Foustanelati" visit the neighboring villages to dance with the local women. They usually end up at a local restaurant of the village where the fun begins with a hearty feast of homemade dishes and traditional music.
Clean Monday: The celebration continues ...
Clean Monday (the start of Lent season) the revelry continues unabated, with Lenten Naxian dishes, traditional events, kite flying and local music and dance. Events are held in most villages like Sangri, Filoti, Agios Prokopios, Apiranthos and Kinidaros.
In Filoti, the Carnival continues ... and the Koudounati make their appearance again promising an endless feast!