Chania Festivals & Cultural Events

The endless celebrations and local festivals of Chania connect people with their ancestral traditions. The numerous religious celebrations embraced by both locals and tourists are always accompanied by excellent Cretan products, music, and dancing.

Religious feasts & festivals

• August 15th
August 15th is the largest religious celebration in Crete, on the occasion of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. There are open panigiria in many villages of Chania Crete, wherever there is even a small chapel dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary). A very popular panigiri on that day takes place in the Monastery of Chrisoskalitissa, just above the fabulous beach of Elafonissi.

• April 23rd
On April 23rd (or Monday after Easter), there is a celebration in honor of Agios Georgios. The largest festival dedicated to this saint takes place in Asi Gonia, a mountainous village of Chania. On this day, the locals celebrate the feast of Agios Georgios Galatas, which means ‘protector of milk’. All sheep flocks of the local farmers are gathered around the village church and, after the Holy Mass, the priest blesses them. Then, the sheep are milked in the square, and the milk is boiled and offered to the people.

• September 15th
On September 15th, there is a large feast in Frangokastello in honor of Agios Nikitas.

Cultural events

• Carnival
Many carnival festivities and parades take place in various towns of Chania, such as Chania Town, Souda, Paleochora, and Kalyves.

• Klidonas
Klidonas is celebrated on the 23rd and 24th of June and is associated with the feast day of Saint John, though its origins go all the way back to the cult of Apollo, the adoration of fire and the customs linked with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Βig fires are built from wreaths made on the first of May, and youngsters jump over them for good luck.

• Nautical Week
Every year, on the first week of July, there is a Nautical Week in the port of Chania Town. Every other year, this Nautical Week also takes place in the ports of Paleochora and Georgioupolis.

• Cultural Summer
All summer long, from July to the end of September, the municipality of Chania hosts various events including theatrical performances, music concerts, lectures, art and photo exhibitions, sports competitions and much more.

• Chania Film Festival
This is an international film festival that was first held in 2001 by the Cultural Organization of Crete. Aspiring to host the very best of both Greek and foreign cinema, it takes place around the end of October. It also comprises educational activities like cineLessons, a cinema summer camp, and events that spread throughout the year.

• Chania Rock Festival
Chania Rock Festival is held annually in the heart of the old city of Chania, usually in July or August. It boasts the participation of rock bands from all over the world.

• Dance Days Chania
Running since 2011, this International Contemporary Dance Festival features artists from Greece and from all over the globe who come to give impressive performances and lectures. Held in July, it has sprung out of the need to propose solutions to economic and social problems through dance.

• Chamber Music Festival
Embarking on its second decade of existence, the Chania Chamber Music Festival has hosted outstanding concerts attended by thousands of music lovers. It is the island’s most thrilling classical music event.

• Vlatos Jazz World Music Festival
This festival involves small-scale acoustic performances by international and local musicians that take place every Sunday evening throughout the summer.

Seasonal Products Festivals

• People and Products Earth Festival
Originally known as Agricultural August, this festival offers local and foreign visitors a unique chance to discover the finest traditional products of the Cretan land. One can find dozens of stalls, as well as talks, music and dancing performances, and documentary showings. Besides, there are experiential workshops for children and adults alike.

• Graviera Festival
Each year, around the middle of August, the Cultural Society of Anopolis organizes a Graviera Festival in the Anopolis village. Visitors can sample mouthwatering local recipes like stew, rice pilaf, salads, and an assortment of cheeses, including, of course, the famous Cretan graviera. Being the second most popular cheese after feta, it is hard and yellow, its flavor ranging from slightly sweet to a bit spicy. It is usually made with sheep’s milk, along with a small amount of goat’s milk.

• Honey Festival
Taking place annually in the villages of Afrata (Kolimbari) and Drakona, this August festival promotes local honey to the accompaniment of mezes and Cretan music.

• Wine Festival
In late July or early August, the cultural association of Vouves village in the area of Kolimbari organizes a rich wine festival. Both days involve a lot of music and dancing, along with an abundance of traditional dishes and free wine provided by local producers.

• Chestnut Festival
This three-day festival takes place on the third Sunday of October and is organized by cultural associations of the villages of Innachorio municipality. Here you can taste various sweets made out of chestnuts, attend concerts and performances by Cretan dance groups, as well as take part in an authentic feast that follows the area’s time-honored customs.

• Tsikoudia Festival
Throughout October and November, the months of tsikoudia production, festivals take place in various places, including the old Venetian Port of Chania Town, Loutraki Kydonias and Limni Platanias. In the one celebrated in Kandanos village in November, visitors can watch the distillation process of the grapes, which are boiled in huge cauldrons. As it passes through tubes, the vapor cools down, and this is how tsikoudia (also known as raki in eastern Crete) is produced. The whole process is accompanied by plentiful local dishes, drinks and music.

• Kalitsounia Festival
Celebrated around mid-July or mid-August in the Kandanos village, this feast centers around kalitsounia, the sweet cheese pastries that are one of the most typical Cretan treats. Besides kalitsounia, visitors can savor kserotigana (sweets made of thin fried dough served with honey and cinnamon), as well as stew, rice pilaf, wine, tsikoudia and other delicacies.

• Sfakian Pie Festival
Taking place in August, this is definitely one of the area of Sfakia’s most appetizing feasts. Besides the bountiful food and the uplifting traditional Cretan music, its main feature is the local pie, a thin crepe-like piece of dough stuffed with soft white cheese (usually mizithra).

• Sardines Festival
During the first week of September, there is a Sardines Festival in Souda and Nea Chora.