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Crete local festivals you should know
Before visiting Crete, Greece’s largest island you know it is famous for the varied terrain. From fine-sand beaches like Elafonisi to the amazing and countless summits of the White Mountains. During the summer season, Crete becomes a hub of excitement as it hosts a multitude of festivals that showcase the island’s rich cultural heritage. But how much do you for the Greek food and local festivals? Crete’s traditions are also known to stand strong without being changed throughout the years. The younger generation keeps all these traditions alive by honouring them and reviving them with every single opportunity they have. Most traditions connect to local festivals with some of the best food that you can try.
Apart from the Wine Festival, Crete is also home to a plethora of cultural events that captivate audiences. Traditional music and dance performances take center stage, enchanting attendees with rhythmic melodies and graceful movements that have been passed down through generations. These events offer a deeper understanding of Cretan heritage and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s rich artistic traditions.
Are you planning to visit Crete? Read our Ultimate Crete Travel Guide for 2023
Attending these local festivals and cultural events in Crete not only provides a glimpse into the island’s vibrant traditions but also offers an opportunity to connect with the welcoming local community. The festivals create an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie, where visitors can forge new friendships and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a wine lover, a culture enthusiast, or simply seeking an unforgettable experience, the local festivals and cultural events in Crete are sure to leave you with a sense of awe and a deeper appreciation for the island’s remarkable heritage. We prepared a list of the most important ones:
Raki Feast (Rakokázano)
If you visit Crete between October and December, you will come across the distillation of the ‘’new Raki’’. Raki or tsikoudia is the most famous Cretan alcohol drink that is nearly synonymous say to the Cretan culture. This drink has Turkish roots and it’s made out of grapes boiled in the cauldron. They make it in small batches from nearly every family. They all gather the grapes in small distilleries that they have in the village. The distillation itself is a big event. Friends and family gather to cook and eat together. Drinking the fresh-made Raki and dancing is a must!
Sheep Shearing Festival (Kourá)
One more event that is purely Cretan and you won’t easily find it anywhere else. Known as the feast of sheep and it symbolizes the beginning of the summer. It’s a big event for Cretan shepherds to get all their friends together to eat and drink. The shepherd catches every sheep and ties their legs. The others shepherds shave off the sheep’s fur. It’s a local tradition to keep the sheep cool before the heat of the summer begins. They usually eat ‘’antikristo’’ and drink raki during this feast. They keep close to the ‘’Mitato’’; the place where they extract the milk from the animals and they make the local cheese.
Wine Festival of Dafnes (July)
The Wine Festival of Dafnes, held in July, is a beloved annual event that celebrates the rich winemaking tradition of Crete. Located in the charming village of Dafnes, nestled amidst rolling vineyards and scenic landscapes, this festival is a haven for wine enthusiasts and cultural enthusiasts alike.
During the Wine Festival of Dafnes, visitors have the opportunity to taste a wide variety of exquisite Cretan wines, showcasing the region’s diverse grape varietals and distinctive flavors. Local winemakers proudly present their finest creations, providing a unique opportunity to learn about the winemaking process and indulge in the island’s vinicultural heritage. The festival also features live music, traditional dances, and cultural performances, creating a festive ambiance that perfectly complements the wine-tasting experience.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of local traditions, the Wine Festival of Dafnes offers a delightful and immersive journey into the world of Cretan wine.
Wine Tasting in Chania
- Cretan Wine And Olive oil in Chania: Join us for a unique Chania olive oil tour with wine tastings. You’ll be able to sample a variety of flavors and learn about the production process.Book now!
- Chania Wine Tour: Come join us on our Chania wine tour experience and enjoy a unique and unforgettable wine tasting! Our guide will teach you everything about their history!
- Chania Wine Tasting: Book Chania wine-tasting tour and enjoy a unique and unforgettable experience! Our resident astronomer will teach you all about the Greek constellations and how they were used in mythology.
Vine harvest (Trýgos)
Visiting Crete in September? The definitely join the vine harvest. Grapes harvest and wine production is a team activity between the vineyard owner and all the family members and friends. Everybody gets together to collect the grapes and after the hard work, it’s time for, of course, a feast with a lot of food and alcohol. Everybody gets together around the ‘’patitiri‘’ (the space to crush the grapes) and walk or run on the grape pile to extract the grape juice. During their breaks and the waiting for their turn, everybody drinks wine or raki, eats and dances.
PS. Don’t forget to read why Greek wine makes us happy
Houdetsi Festival (Early August)
The Houdetsi Festival, held in early August, is a vibrant celebration of music and culture in the heart of Crete. Nestled in the picturesque village of Houdetsi, this annual event attracts both locals and international visitors who gather to experience the captivating rhythms and melodies of traditional Cretan music.
During the Houdetsi Festival, the village streets come alive with the sounds of lyres, lutes, and other traditional instruments, creating an immersive and joyful atmosphere. Musicians from Crete and beyond take the stage, showcasing their extraordinary talent and captivating the audience with their spirited performances. From traditional Cretan dances to modern interpretations, the festival offers a diverse range of musical genres that cater to every taste. With workshops, jam sessions, and performances throughout the day and into the night, the Houdetsi Festival truly captures the essence of Cretan music and leaves a lasting impression on all who attend.
Rent a Car in Crete
Cretan Wedding (Gámos)
I’m sure you already know about Greek weddings and have read our post “Honey Honey”: Our big-honey weddings. A feast not to add to your bucketlist is the Cretan wedding.
Read more: Top-10 best Cretan Food to Try
The special think about weddings in Crete is the duration. The wedding starts 2 to 3 days before the main event, with the pre-wedding (Progamos) that all of the friends of the groom and the bride gather up together and having a big feast. Most pre-weddings take place in houses and end up as a big feast in the middle of the road underneath the house. Everyone is drinking and stopping around by-passers to join the fun.
The main event includes traditional Cretan clothes, Cretan dances and a lot of food and alcohol. One of the most interesting customs is the ‘’Charisma’’, and it’s an amount of money that the guests give out to the couple. Some delicacies that you cannot miss are the ‘’Xerotigano’’ (Fried dough strips with honey) and the ‘’Gamopilafo’’ (Slightly overcooked rice using water mixed with goat stew instead of just water). The wedding feast is endless and everyone around Greece knows how great experience a Cretan wedding could be.
If you are planning to visit Crete, take a look to Food in Crete category.
Crete Local Festivals in a Nutshell
In conclusion, Crete’s local festivals offer a captivating glimpse into the island’s cultural tapestry. From the renowned Wine Festival to traditional music and dance performances, these festivals provide a unique opportunity to engage with the vibrant spirit of Crete. Immerse yourself in the festivities, savor the flavors, and create lasting memories that will forever embody the essence of this remarkable Greek island.
In summary, attending Crete’s local festivals is a gateway to experiencing the island’s rich heritage and connecting with its welcoming community. With a blend of traditions, flavors, and captivating performances, these festivals are a testament to the vibrant cultural mosaic of Crete. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of these celebrations and create cherished memories that will resonate long after you’ve bid farewell to this enchanting island.
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