greek easter celebrations

Make your way to Greece and experience incredible Easter celebrations and traditions. (Photo: Getty Images)

Culture + Style

Easter is the Ultimate Holiday in Greece. Here’s Where to See the Extraordinary Celebrations

Easter is the most important religious celebration for the Greek Orthodox Church, and the holiday marks a fascinating time to visit the country. Visitors will likely encounter festivities like the coloring of eggs on Holy Thursday, the procession of the Epitaphios on Holy Friday, the end of the 40-day fasting period on Holy Saturday, and finally, Easter Sunday.

While those are the standard celebrations, each of Greece’s main regions also has its own local traditions. Here are six destinations worth visiting over Easter.

Corfu

greek easter celebrations
Get your pots ready! (Photo: Getty Images)

Corfiots are known for their joyfulness, and they organize some of Greece’s most impressive Easter celebrations.

The sacred ritual of the procession of Christ’s epitaph on Holy Friday and the remains of the island’s patron, St. Spyridon, on Holy Saturday morning, both accompanied by the local philharmonic bands, are among the highlights.

After these acts of mourning comes a feast with a spectacular tradition on Holy Saturday morning. From Spianada Square, you can have a panoramic view of the nearby balconies adorned with burgundy textiles from which the Corfiots throw pots, “botides,” as locals call them, as a way to expel evil spirits.

The festivities culminate in the evening on Holy Saturday during the resurrection of the Christ, when the town’s churches have processions through Spianada Square, fireworks launch and local bands play music.

Wind down the celebrations with an Easter supper at Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu’s restaurant, Makris, where a Michelin-starred chef delights diners with locally sourced ingredients morphed into delightful meals.

Chios

greek easter celebrations
The rockets’ red, Easter glare. (Photo: Getty Images)

Οn the island of Chios, the traditional “rocket war” is a real feast for the eyes. This custom, believed to have begun during Ottoman rule, revives every year on the night of the Resurrection (Holy Saturday) as a battle between the two parishes of Vrontados town: Agios Markos and Panagia (Virgin Mary) Erythiani. From early afternoon until late at night, thousands of rockets are fired, creating an extraordinary spectacle illuminating the night sky.

Head to the Holy Monastery of Agios Makarios on the slopes of Mout Apos above Vrontados to watch the rocket war from a distance.

On Holy Friday make sure to visit Mesta, a well-preserved medieval village, and follow along with the funerary procession of the Epitaphios Canopy representing the tomb of Christ.

Messinia

greek easter
Messinia’s traditional Easter bread. (Photo: P. Sofikitis & Sia)

Kalamata, the capital of Messinia, is world renowned for its olive oil, but during Easter, the town enacts its own rocket war, locally called “saitopolemos.” In Kalamata, this “fire dance” takes place on Easter Sunday. Save your appetite and indulge in the traditional Easter delicacies of Messinia, like lambrokouloura (special sweet bread), lalaggia (pancakes) and pasteli (sesame seed bars).

Leonidio, Arcadia

This small yet charming town located in Arcadia (Peloponnese) offers one of the dreamiest spectacles that you can watch during Christ’s Resurrection on Holy Saturday: Colorful paper lanterns are lit and float above town, illuminating the night sky. It’s believed that local sailors experienced this Asian tradition while traveling abroad and brought it back home.

Crete

greek easter
Enjoy your meal in a village setting. (Photo: Marriott International)

One of the best places to experience Greece’s Easter ceremonies and celebrations is in Crete’s small, authentic villages. There, on Easter Sunday, you can taste the traditional spit-roasted lamb and kokoretsi, a traditional dish of lamb or goat intestines that are wrapped around the animal’s offal, such as kidneys and heart.

Should you prefer to stay closer to your accommodation, both Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection and Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection boast restaurants with stunning sea views.

Patmos

Known as the “Island of the Apocalypse” or “the Jerusalem of the Aegean,” Patmos is the place where Saint John the Theologian is said to have written the Bible’s Book of Revelation. Here, highlights of the Easter celebrations include the reenactment of the Last Supper and the washing of the feet ceremony on Holy Thursday morning in the central square of Chora.