January 1
New Year's Day

The Messinians like to open their homes on this day. New Year's Day celebrations are even more festive than Christmas, since they are a major gift-giving occasion. Many traditions from the distant past are observed during the month, including New Year celebrations. A popular one is the cracking of the pomegranate, which is a symbol of fortune and prosperity: On the morning of New Year’s Day, upon returning from church the master of the house breaks a pomegranate just inside the entrance door, so that all its seeds burst out, spreading everywhere and bringing good luck. A special cake (vassilopita), concealing a good-luck coin, is served in memory of St. Basil, one of the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church, remembered for his kindness and generosity.

January 6
Epiphany (Theofania)
The Baptism of Christ is celebrated with the blessing of the waters. A priest throws a cross into the sea and young men dive into the chilly waters to retrieve it. The one who succeeds receives a special blessing and becomes the hero of the day. The center of the events is the Church of the Ascension on the west coast of Kalamata.



The second month of the year is dominated by the festive season leading up to Lent. Most towns and villages in Messinia hold their own celebrations and visitors are more than welcome to join in the fun.

February 2
Presentation of Christ (Ypapanti)The Ypapanti of Christ is the day when the infant Jesus was taken by Mary and Joseph to the temple at Jerusalem and was presented to Symeon as the Savior. The focal points are the procession, with the icon of the Virgin Mary, and the trade fair.

Carnival period
The Carnival is celebrated boisterously with fancy dress, feasting, drinking, dancing and a certain loosening of inhibitions. Many scholars maintain that this three-week celebration has its origins in pagan festivities in honor of the half-man, half-goat deity of fertility, Pan.

Nedousa Carnival
The most popular Carnival events are held in Nedousa. A multitude of performances and folk happenings transform the whole village into an elaborate and vibrant stage set. People dressed in animal skins, their faces blackened with coal dust and with bells hanging from their necks, reenact local traditions symbolizing fertility and good luck.

Penultimate Thursday of Carnival
Barbecue Thursday (Tsiknopempti)
Apokreas in Greek (Carnevale in Latin) means abstaining from meat and preparing for the fasting period before Easter. It is within this holiday spirit that we have the custom of “pig slaughtering” in Messinia, when every home slaughters an animal the day before Tsiknopempti. Residents then smoke the meat and the sausages, which they will later preserve. To this day it is a custom to go out on Tsiknopempti and take in the aroma and taste of grilled meat, drink some wine, and leave one’s worries behind.

Last Sunday of Carnival
Wine festival at Maganiako
A celebrated wine festival is held each year in the village of Maganiako, in the Municipality of Androussa. In the village of Mathias, in the Municipality of Petalidi, locals celebrate a carnival feast with the re-enactment of a traditional wedding.

Last Sunday of Carnival
The carnival of Messini
The glendi (celebration) begins on Tsiknopempti, when all the people are in the street and the wine flows freely. The feast is dedicated to Bekris (drunkard) who is considered to have been a real person. On Sunday, according to tradition, men dress as women, and there is a big parade and many events. This custom dates to the years of the Ottoman occupation in Greece, when the inhabitants would change their clothes to visit each other’s house.



First day of Orthodox Lent
Clean Monday (Kathara Deftera)

The first day of Orthodox Lent is a time of family togetherness, kite-flying and distinctive meals embracing the bounty of the sea and the gifts of the earth: octopus, squid, mussels, shrimp, olives, spring onions, radishes, lagana (unleavened bread), halva (tahini-based sweet confection) and the ubiquitous taramosalata (salty, fish-roe spread).

Clean Monday
Kite competition in Kalamata
Each year, the Municipality of Kalamata organizes a spectacular kite-flying competition attended by the entire local community and a throng of visitors. Kites symbolize hope, freedom and a happy childhood, while the competition helps promote a sense of solidarity and togetherness among people.

Clean Monday
Koutroulis' Wedding

A local tradition in Methoni involves the annual revival of an actual 14th century wedding, which became a legend not only because of the many years that passed before the couple could tie the knot but also for the unprecedented festivities that followed. From then on, such grand and exuberant celebrations came to be described as being "like Koutroulis' wedding".

Clean Monday
The hanging of old lady Sykou

One of the customs of Clean Monday that stands out in Messini is the hanging of old lady Sykou, which dates to the 18th century and is based on true events.
According to tradition, old lady Sykou was hanged on Clean Monday of 1825 on the order of Ibrahim Pasha, after she had explained to him one of his dreams, saying that his troops and he himself would be annihilated. Amateur actors from the village reenact the incident and hang an effigy, while the audience participates by simply watching or climbing on the staging.

Clean Monday
The balloons

Locals also celebrate Clean Monday by flying hot air balloons, something one sees only in Messinia. Using the same multi-colored glossy paper used to make kites, the Messinians make balloons. In the middle of each one they put cloth dipped in petroleum, which they set aflame just before releasing the balloons. Groups of children start chasing the balloons, trying to catch them and bring them back.

March 23
The Liberation of Kalamata

Kalamata draws pride from being the first city to revolt against the Ottomans in the 1821 uprising. Celebrations commemorate this historic event, with young girls and boys wearing local costumes and reciting poems in honor of their heroic ancestors. A reenactment of the occupation and the liberation of Kalamata takes place at the historic city center.

March 25
The Annunciation (Evangelismos)

Churches in Messinia, and also over Greece, celebrate the Annunciation ‒ the revelation to Mary by the archangel Gabriel that she would bear Jesus, the son of God. The Feast of the Annunciation is observed nine months before Christmas Day.



Messinia is in bloom. Spring is here and flowers are in bloom, adorning the countryside of Messinia with a kaleidoscope of color and life.

Easter, Holy Week
Easter is the most important celebration of the Greek Orthodox Church and Holy Week festivities are observed with particular devoutness in Messinia.
On Good Friday, candlelit processions follow a flower-bedecked bier, the Epitaphios, winding through the main streets of villages and towns.
On Good Saturday, at nightfall, the priest distributes the sacred flame from candle to candle and at midnight church bells peel joyously, fireworks light the sky and everyone says Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen).
Sunday is devoted to singing, dancing ‒ often in traditional costumes ‒ and serious feasting on roasted lamb, magiritsa soup, eggs dyed red and special sweet bread (tsoureki), making it an extraordinary festival reminiscent of ancient Greek rituals, when people celebrated the coming of spring by sacrificing lambs.

Easter Sunday
The custom of the balloons
Dasochori is a small village in the county of Megalopoli. A local custom still practiced today is the making and flying of a balloon at the church of Aghia Paraskevi on the evening of Good Saturday or Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday
Saitopolemos in Kalamata

Saitopolemos is a spectacular competition involving teams of mainly young men holding tubular home-made fireworks (saites). This colorful, loud and often precarious event, harking back to the first Christian societies and the Greek War of Independence, takes place in the Metropolitan Stadium of Kalamata on Easter Sunday.

April 23 or the first Monday after Easter
St. George’s day

The feast of St. George (Aghios Georgios), the patron saint of shepherds, is an important rural celebration with dancing and lots of events. Certain villages, such as Platy, organize horseracing events which draw crowds from the entire region. The horses are elaborately decorated and ridden by their owners, while the winners are awarded prestigious prizes.

Easter Friday
The feast of the Holy Virgin of Eleistria

Easter Friday, also known as Bright Friday, is the first Friday after Easter. It is the feast day of the Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God, when the icon of the Holy Virgin of Eleistria is carried in procession through the streets of Koroni.



May 1
May Day

May Day is an important holiday when Messinians celebrate the coming of spring by having family picnics in the countryside and picking colorful wildflowers, which are woven into wreaths and garlands and hung over doorways. Many festive events are also organized throughout the region.

May 2
Skala Festival

A three-day fair (festival) is held in honor of Aghios Athanasios (Maithanasis) in the village of Skala, in the Municipality of Meligalas.

May 3
Spilia Festival

The village church of Spilia in the Municipality of Kyparissia celebrates the memory of Aghios Timotheos and Aghia Mavra, who suffered martyrdom.

May 20
Papaflessas Anniversary

Born in the village of Poliani in Messinia, Grigorios "Papaflessas" Dikaios was a hero of the Greek War of Independence who fell on June 20, 1825, fighting against the forces of Ibrahim Pasha at Maniaki, Messinia. Commemorative celebrations are organized each year at Maniaki and Tambouria in the Municipality of Flessias.

May 21
Aghios Constantinos and Aghia Eleni

The memory of Aghios Constantinos, the first Christian emperor of the Byzantine Empire, and his mother Aghia Eleni is celebrated with festivals and events all over Messinia: at Lefki (Municipality of Gargaliani), at Androussa and Konstantini (Municipality of Andania), at Chrani and in the village of Lamia in the area of Koroni.

Last week of May

Messinia's prestigious floricultural and commercial exhibition includes various events and festivities culminating in an impressive parade of chariots decorated with fresh, colorful flowers and accompanied by children's dance groups.



Summer's here and the sea beckons. But in Messinia, as elsewhere around Greece, this is also a time for spiritual renewal with the observance of some of the most important feast days in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

Pentecost - fifty days after Easter Sunday
Feast of the Holy Spirit

Commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples, Pentecost is one of the great feasts of the Greek Orthodox Church, celebrated with many festive events around Messinia.

June 22
All Saints Day (Aghii Pantes)

A two-day festival is held at Tsoukaleika, Meligalas, in honor of all the saints, known and unknown.
June 23-24

St. John the Baptist’s Day
The feast day of St. John the Baptist (Aghios Ioannis Prodromos), the Forerunner of Jesus, is celebrated with a colorful fair in Kyparissia. Bonfires are also lit across the region in honor of St. John, with young boys jumping over the embers.

June 25 - July 2
Marine Week

Marine Week is celebrated in Koroni with a variety of community events and activities, including swimming races, basketball and soccer matches, concerts, a fishing competition and a sardine festival.

June 29
Feast of the Holy Apostles

The memory of Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated in the village of Soulinari, in the Municipality of Chiliochorites, with a memorable festival.

June to October
Koroni Art Festival

The Koroni Art Festival is held in Koroni, Messinia, from June until October. Visitors can enjoy classical music – opera – contemporary and traditional music, poetry, dance, theater and visual arts exhibitions.



Kalamata International Dance Festival
Visitors to Messinia in July will have the opportunity to attend the Kalamata International Dance Festival, which over the years has earned a well-deserved place in the world of dance. The festival is the key annual event of the city's International Dance Center. Founded in 1995, the center's mission is to support and promote the art of dance via research, education, artistic activities and creativity. The festival brings dancers and companies to Kalamata from all over the world, building bridges to international dance creativity and appealing to a varied audience from Greece and abroad.

July 3-5
Feast of Aghios Athanasios the Athonite

The village of Militsa in Aipeia organizes a three-day festival in memory of Aghios Athanasios the Athonite, one of the founders of the monastic state of Mount Athos.

July 7
Aghia Kyriaki’s Day

The martyrdom of Aghia Kyriaki is commemorated with a traditional fair in the village of Maganiako, Androussa, on the saint's feast day.

July 17
Aghia Marina’s Day

Aghia Marina, who is considered to be a miracle maker and patron of babies and young children, is celebrated with festive events in the village of Marina, Eira and a feast at Andriani, Aipeia.

July 20
Feast of the Prophet Elias

The quintessential prophet of the Old Testament, Prophet Elias is venerated at hilltop shrines throughout Messinia. In Meligalas, a three-day festival includes a devout icon procession, as well as a variety of well-organized athletic and recreational events. On this day a peak of Mount Taygetus, known as the "Pyramid" due to its distinctive shape, mysteriously casts a shadow that points directly to Koroni at sunrise and directly to Sparta at sunset.

July 26
Aghia Paraskevi's Day

The Feast of Aghia Paraskevi, a 2nd century martyr especially venerated among Greeks, continues the succession of religious celebrations at the height of summer, when agricultural work is put on hold. Festive events are held over two days at Anthoussa, Meligalas and at Sirizo, Eira.

July 27
Feast of Aghios Panteleimon

Aghios Panteleimon (the "all-compassionate"), a martyr counted among the Holy Unmercenary Healers, is commemorated with tribute festivals and events across Messinia.

Video Art Festival "Miden"

Festival "Miden," Kalamata's video art festival, presents a selection from the global production of video art by young and aspiring artists.



First two weeks of August
Ithomea - Festival in Ancient Messini

An ancient tradition of the region going back to the 10th century BC, Ithomea was revived in 1984 after a hiatus of 2,000 years, featuring a variety of cultural and athletic events in the town of Ithomi.

First two weeks of August
A vibrant cultural festival in Pylos, including concerts both at the fortress and in the main town square, as well as children's theatrical shows and live performances from some of Greece's most acclaimed singers.

First two weeks of August
A four-day meet of track and field events and aquatic sport competitions in Pylos, in memory of Pylos-born Kostas Tsiklitiras (1888-1913), a standing long-jump champion and gold medalist at the 1912 Olympic Games.

First two weeks of August
Cultural events organized in the village of Chora, Trifylia in honor of the wise Homeric King Nestor.

First two weeks of August
Okra festival
As part of this annual tradition of music and dance events aimed at supporting and promoting local products, the people of Armeni in the region of Kyparissia offer guests a delicious chicken stew with okra.

August 2
Celebration of the olive
This celebration takes place in Trikorfo of Messinia at the community square with the participation of the olive inspectors from Messinia and other parts of Greece. More than 20 stands display a great variety of olives and a musical evening follows, with speeches and a tasting competition. The event takes place every year and lasts for two days.

August 2-7
Antiques bazaar in Kyparissia
The open-air bazaar with antiques and old items is held every summer in the Old Town of Kyparissia. It has been taking place since 2005, organized by the Municipality of Kyparissia and local authorities and is considered to be the biggest cultural event of this beautiful seaside town. During the bazaar, there are wine tasting evenings to introduce the visitors to the vineyards of the Trifylia region.

August 6
Feast of the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis)
The Transfiguration of Christ is celebrated with a major festive event in the village of Marathoupolis, Gargaliani.

August 13-14
Sports events in Mani
The Municipality of Lefktros organizes a two-day athletic meet in memory of Panayotis Foteas, a prominent poet, scholar and politician from Messinia. The event includes a 3 km country road race, while a week-long regatta is held in the southern Peloponnese from Monemvasia to Kardamili via Neapoli, Gythio, Porto Kagio and Gerolimenas.

August 15
Dormition of the Theotokos

An important day of religious pilgrimage, the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Assumption) is celebrated across Messinia with lively cultural events, local festivals and athletic meets. Every village holds a fair in honor of the Mother of Christ that lasts all day long.

August 18
Fig Feast in Polylofos
The Fig Feast takes place in Polylofos, in the Municipality of Androussa on August 18th with a series of events starting.

August 19
Onion and Tomato Feast in Metamorphosis

The annual Onion and Tomato Feast takes place in Metamorphosis, in the Municipality of Papaflessas on August 19th. It is organized by the Women's Association of Metamorphosis.



First weekend of September
Potato Feast

A potato festival is organized in the village of Aghios Nikolaos in Mani to promote the nutritional value of this staple crop.

September 1
Happy New Year!

In Messinia, September was long considered to be the first day of the new year due to the great importance of the month for agriculture.

September 8
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Many events take place to commemorate this significant day: A major religious festival, celebrated with a traditional fair at the Monastery of Kastimikana, a six-day fair in Meligalas and a solemn procession of the holy icon of the Virgin Mary from Dimiova to Giannitsanika.

September 14
Feast of the Holy Cross

The Exaltation of the Cross, which marks the end of the series of summer feasts, is celebrated with colorful fairs at Eva and Petalidi and a seven-day religious fair in Kyparissia.

September 23
Conception of St. John the Baptist

Two local festivals, one in Pylos and another on the islet of Proti, commemorate the conception of the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.

September 20-28
Descent of the icon of the Virgin Mary

A one-week religious feast and country fair takes place in Messini, on the occasion of the descent of the icon of the Virgin Mary from the historic post-Byzantine Monastery of Voulkano near ancient Messini.



Anniversary of the Battle of Navarino
Annual celebrations in Pylos commemorate the famous naval Battle of Navarino in 1827, when the allied armada of Britain, France and Russia, commanded by Admirals Codrington, de Rigny and van Heyden, defeated the combined Ottoman and Egyptian fleet, marking a decisive turning point in the Greek War of Independence and eventually leading to the proclamation of the independent Greek State. This was the last major naval battle in the world fought entirely with sailing ships.

October 1-2
European Birdwatch Day events

This is an annual event that takes place in over 30 European countries simultaneously, and is coordinated by the global partnership for the conservation of birds and their habitats, BirdLife International. The European Birdwatch Day events that take place throughout Greece are organized and coordinated by the Hellenic Ornithological Society with the support of municipalities, Management Bodies of Protected Areas, local institutions and various organizations throughout the country. The events take place at the main square in Kalamata and the Information Center (old pump house) at Gialova lagoon, on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd October, from 10.00 am.

October 3
Aghios Dionysios the Areopagite

The feast of Aghios Dionysios the Areopagite, a martyr distinguished for his humanitarianism and solid philosophical background, is celebrated in Gargaliani.

October 10-18
Fair in Chora

A seven-day country fair in the town of Chora in the region of Trifylia.

October 26
Aghios Dimitrios Day

Revered as one of the most important Orthodox military saints, Aghios Dimitrios is honored on his feast day with joyful events at Falanthi and Akritochori in the region of Koroni.

October 26
The day of the new wine

The feast of Aghios Dimitrios is also the day when the first bottle of the year’s new wine is tasted. But not before it has been taken to the local church and blessed by the priest.

Last five days of October
Chestnut Festival

The village of Ambelionas, with its sprawling chestnut forest near the Nedas river, is famous for its annual Chestnut Festival, which attracts many visitors wishing to enjoy the wonderful colors of autumn, taste traditional recipes and learn more about the history of this wonderful tree.

October 1-30
Bird migration month

Many species of birds have chosen the Gialova lagoon and Messinia for their final stop before the long migratory flight to warmer parts of Africa. The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), levant sparrowhawk (Accipiter Brevipes), common buzzard (Buteo buteo), great white egret (Egretta alba), grey heron (Ardea Cinerea) are just some of the bird species that one can see at the Gialova lagoon in October.



Olive harvest

November offers visitors the opportunity to become familiar with local olive harvesting methods and olive-oil production processes in traditional oil-making establishments.

November 13
Feast of Aghios Ioannis Chrysostom

The feast of Aghios Ioannis Chrysostom, one of the fathers of the Christian faith, is celebrated with a religious festival in the village of Kentriko, in the Municipality of Andania.

November 21
The day of the oranges

The importance of oranges for the local economy is illustrated by the celebration on November 21 of the feast of Panaghia Portokalousa ("Holy Virgin of the Oranges"). On this day, local people take the year’s new oranges to church to be blessed. They also show their more playful side by engaging in what is known locally as portokalopolemos ("orange battle"), when they pelt each other with the fruit. If there is a wedding on the day, oranges are also thrown at the newlyweds, along with rice and roses.



December 6
St. Nicholas Day (Aghios Nikolaos)

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of all sailors. A religious feast followed by festivities takes place at Mantzari of the Municipality of Andania.

A weekend in December
Christmas Bazaar in Koroni

The Christmas Bazaar in Koroni takes place one weekend in December between 10:00-19:00 at the local high school. The Bazaar offers gifts, clothes, comestibles, books, and artifacts, with the proceeds going to charitable purposes.

December 25
Christmas (Christougenna)

In some parts of Messinia it is customary a week before Christmas to lay in the fireplace a slow burning log, the so-called Christoxylo (Christ's wood), which will supposedly burn until the family sits around the table for Christmas dinner. Moreover, special dishes and sweets, such as melomakarona and kourabiedes, are prepared for Christmas, making it one of the most festive times of the year.

The Christmas boat
In many parts of Greece the quintessential symbol of Christmas has long been a brightly decorated boat. The Christmas boat symbolizes not only the gifts that families hope the new year will bring, but also the proud history of a powerful maritime nation.