One of the most wonderful and unique experiences for visitors to Greece over summer is attending a Panigiri (festival), which take place all over the country. The most glorious Panigiri of all is that of Dekapedavgoustos, which honours Panagia (Virgin Mary) and is celebrated with reverent services and wonderful festivities.
Held during the peak of summer, August 15 celebrates the assumption of the Virgin Mary– a date that is one of the most important in the Greek Orthodox calendar. Also known as the ‘Summer Easter,’ August 15 is a national holiday that is celebrated throughout the country and includes festivities and fairs that last for days.
During this period you will find central squares in villages and the courtyards of the churches filled with locals and international visitors who celebrate a day filled with good food, drinks, music, dancing, fireworks and a taste of local culture and traditions.
Every destination in Greece celebrates August 15 in its own wonderful way and to honour this special occasion, here we’ve put together a list of our 15 favourite Greek islands to experience Dekapendavgoustos.
The most popular celebration in the country for the commemoration of Panagia’s passing takes place on the island of Tinos, which is home to the Greek Orthodox Church’s holiest church, the Panagia Evangelistria. Thousands of pilgrims arrive in Tinos each year on August 15 to the church that is home to a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, discovered underground in 1823.
August 15 is a day-long celebration of the Monastery of Faneromeni in Frini, above Lefkada Town. This is a popular pilgrimage on Lefkada island from the 14 to the 15th of August. Panagia is the Patron Saint of Lefkas and all the orthodox churches of the island honour Panagia during these days with church services and celebrations that includes lots of local food and drinks.
Celebrating the Virgin of Portaitissa over three days with numerous festivities and events; here you will eat, drink, dance and be merry amongst locals who celebrate in the main town with musicians who make sure the crowds are up and dancing day and night.
Although there are festivals taking place all over the island, the villages of Pyles, Olympos and Menetes celebrate August 15th until the following day. Here you will find women dressed in their traditional costumes and as they walk to the church service you will see women with bread baskets decorated with flowers as an offering to Panagia. The services are followed by a huge feast, with local music and dancing.
The largest island of the Dodecanese has many traditional festivities and events celebrating Dekapendavgoustos, however, the biggest of all takes place at Panagia Kremasti, a village known for its huge panigiri dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Locals come here to take part in the huge street fair that includes free food, drinks and music. During this time the island also celebrates Panagia Tsambika, the island’s holy and miraculous monastery.
Ikaria, is by far the most famous island in Greece for panigiria, and during Dekapendavgousto, the village of Lagada is most well known. Here you will find thousands of locals and tourists of all ages dancing in a giant circle to the Ikariotiko. There is also plenty of local dishes and drinks going around- making it an experience to remember.
On the 15th of August, the most popular celebrations in Lesvos take place in the village of Agiassos, home to Panagia Agiasotissa. Along with a church service and plenty of food and drinks, visitors are also invited to enjoy cultural events such as theatrical performances, dances, exhibitions and concerts.
August 15th is celebrated in the port town of Parikia, where you will enjoy spectacular fireworks. The Ekatontapiliani church next to the port of Paros is the spot where most people head to on 15 August, as Navy ships also pay their respects to Panagia. There is a procession of the Epitaph of the Virgin Mary and the peak of the celebration is in the evening, with a large festival featuring local music and a fantastic fireworks display from the boats in the bay.
The island of Sikinos hosts one of the Aegean’s most famous panigiria on August 15th in its Hora. During the celebration, the icon of Panagia is carried around during a procession. In the afternoon there is a church liturgy and the day ends with a huge feast and non-stop music and dance.
The largest Cycladic island is known for its wonderful festivals and on the 15th of August the entire island hosts events with traditional food, music and dancing. The most popular one takes place in Filoti village, however, there are also great festivals celebrating Panagia at Agersani, Apollona and Apeirantho.
In Spetses, the church of the Dormition of Theotokos in Kasteli celebrates Dekapendavgoustos with wonderful traditions and the whole island attends the festivities to honour the great occasion.
Every year in Hydra, the beginning of August marks the start of the “Theomitorika” events, which are organised by the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Festivities peak on August 15 and last all the way through to August 22, as the entire month of August is dedicated to Panagia.
Nisyros’ largest panigiri dedicated to Panagia is held in Emporio, a charming mountainous village. Locals and visitors gather at communal tables and spend hours eating, drinking, singing and dancing together. Locals start preparing dishes days in advance, as they feed their visitors all day long.
On the day of the Dormition of the Virgin, Patmos celebrates with a big feast at the Monastery of Panagia Geranou. Traditional dancing, singing, and food are served at events that take place all over the island, mainly in Skala, Kambos and Chora. Church services are held on the 14th and 15th including the procession of Megali Panagia in Chora, next to the monastery of Saint John.
Locals celebrate this Holy Feast from August 6 through to the 15th in the village of Markopoulou, home to Panagia Fidousa, where many snakes of all kinds and sizes are found inside and outside the church. According to legend, this began when the island was attacked by the pirate Barbarossa in 1705 and the nuns in the convent at Markopoulou prayed to Panagia to help them escape and were turned into snakes. Since then, “Virgin Mary’s snakes” enter the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church and head for the icon of the virgin. The snakes are harmless and, according to locals, bring good luck to the island.