People who live in Chania are always celebrating one thing or another. Festivals and events occur all the time, and are normally accompanied by food and various forms of live entertainment. Visitors and tourist typically enjoy the food at the festivals since most items are cooked on-the-spot and are contain traditional Greek ingredients.
Following are some of the most popular festivals in Chania:
Chania Summer Festival: This festival occurs each year from July through September. The festival includes many live performances (musical, dance, theatrical). Some of the live shows are related to Shakespeare, Cretan dancing, opera, and ballet.
Celebration of the Virgin Mary: This is one of the most important religious festivals that occurs in Chania (as well as the entire country of Greece) each year. The celebration occurs yearly on August 15.
Battle of Chania Celebration: This festival occurs from May 20 through May 30 each year and celebrates the anniversary of this Battle. The festival includes various sports competitions.
Sheep Festival: On April 23 each year, there is a festival that is focused on sheep. Thousands of them are brought to the Village of Assi Gonia and they are honored as well as milked. The people attending the festival can all taste the milk and also partake in the rest of the activities – eating, dancing, and socializing.
Agia Sofia Religious Festival: On the Tuesday after the Orthodox Easter at 10.00 am, on the road to Elafonisi, at Topolia Gorge, In the Cave of Agia Sofia every year there is a religious Festival. The church is some 300 steps above the main road don't let this make you miss this highly recommended event. It is organised by the local parish and the people of the Village Katsomatado. The organisers prepare traditional food and plenty of local wine, live traditional music is also organised. It is free of charge and everybody is welcome. So, The Tuesday after the Orthodox Easter in the morning after 10.00 am. everybody is welcome.
Christmas and New Year festivities The 12 days of Christmas are celebrated between 24th December and 6th January.
Epiphany on the 6th January is the Holy Blessing of the Waters - waterside ceremonies.
The Carnival period runs for three weeks, during February 2019 - a party atmosphere, carnival parades and masked balls.
Clean Monday 11th March 2019– marked by Lenten picnics and kite flying
March 25th is Greek Independence Day as well as a major religious holiday - marked by school and military parades throughout Greece
Greek Easter - Sunday 28th April 2019. Greek Easter is celebrated with many local customs and traditions.
Holidays and Events
|The 1st of every month of the year||The 1st of every month of the year||People can take holy water from a “Samovar” in front of the Cathedral (the Trimartiri) in Halidon street. Some have special bottles. Others just empty their water bottle and use that or a plastic cup.|
|January 1st||New Year’s day||All shops are closed.|
|January 6th||Epiphany/ Theophany||Celebration of Theophany and Blessing of the Waters. The priests cast the Holy Cross into the water of the Venetian harbor of Chania and the Limanaki harbor in Nea Chora. Everyone can dive for the cross in the cold water, and the person who find the cross will be blessed all year through.|
|Mouvable||Fat Thursday||11 days before Clean Monday. Greeks celebrate by taking to the streets and consume large quantities of meat as souvlaki by grill. City and town governments set up grills in central squares with music, too.|
|Mouvable||The week before Lent||Different Carnival events in the Chania area|
|Mouvable||Clean Monday||The first day of Lent is considered to be one of the most important feasts all over Greece. It is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting foods. The restaurants are crowded. Kite flying is also part of the tradition, especially on the beaches.|
|March 25||Independence Day||Commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence from Turkish rule in 1821. Parades of students, associations, some of them in national costumes, scouts, armed forces, firemen etc.|
|Mouvable||Holy Week||The Holy Week is leading up to Easter and this is when most people take their fasting seriously. Easter is the most important holiday in Greece, and in the Greek Orthodox Church. Services are held throughout Holy Week. Some tavern’s close during this week, and the ones that stay open have mostly seafood and vegetable dishes on their menu. People dye eggs red (symbolizing the blood of Christ) and bake Easter biscuits ’koulourakia’ and kalitsounia (cheese pies), to be eaten after Easter Saturday when the fast ends.|
|Mouvable||Good Friday||Good Friday is a day of mourning. The drama of the death of Christ is followed with great devoutness. The icon of Christ is taken off the cross, wrapped in linen and put it in the Bier symbolizing the tomb of Christ. Late at night the bier is carried through the streets near each Church.|
|Mouvable||Easter Saturday||In the villages of Crete, children spend the day preparing a large bonfire and an effigy of Judas outside the church to burn after the midnight service. “Anastasi”, the Resurrection, takes place at midnight and is the culmination of Holy Week. Churches are packed from 23:00 onwards for the service and the lighting of the Holy Flame at midnight. Many tavern’s are open after the midnight service. Town shops close at around 15:00 and supermarkets around 17:00.|
|Mouvable||Easter Sunday||Easter Sunday tradition is the roasting of lamb outside on a spit; family and friends usually get together for a big celebration with plenty of food, wine, music, and dancing|
|Mouvable||Easter Monday||Nearly all shops remain closed.|
|May 1st||Labour Day/May Day||Apart from the parades, one very common commemoration is the making of a May wreath which is hung on doorways, balconies, in chapels, and many other places, Most monuments, museums, and attractions as well as some shops will be closed.|
|May 15th – 30th||Anniversary for the “Battle of Crete”||Memorial events to the fallen soldiers and civilians of the Battle, in the 2. World War.|
|Mouvable||Pentecost or Whit Monday||Always celebrated Monday, 7 weeks after Easter.|
|August 15||Assumption or Dormition of the Holy Virgin||The most important celebration of the Virgin Mary|
|End of August – beginning of September||Sardine festival||Every summer, during the end of August to beginning of September, for ten days, the Municipality of Chania organizes sardine festival on the beach of Nea Chora that attracts many visitors. Usually on the 1st Monday of September is the highlight of the celebration with free grilled sardine fish, wine, music and dancing in the evening.|
|September 27th||World Tourism Day||Festive events at the Venetian port of Chania|
|October||Tsikoudia (Raki) festival||Dance and music events as well as revival of the traditional way of tsikoudia distillation in the Venetian port of Chania|
|October 28th||Ochi Day/Day of the “No”||Celebration of the Greek refusal to the Italian ultimatum in 1940|
|December 15th – 30th||Christmas events in Chania||Santa run, etc.|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
|December 31 – January 1||New Year||Festive welcome of the new year in the Municipal Market organized by the Municipality of Chania|