Nafplio is a town that needs no introduction for those in search of romance, culture, and picturesque beauty. But did you know that Nafplio is also home to some of the most exciting events in Greece? From music festivals to cultural extravaganzas, there's always something happening in Nafplio, and we have the inside scoop on the top ten must-see events and festivals.
Grab your calendar and get ready to plan your trip to this enchanting destination! To jump to a specific event, simply use the short links below:
You will be forgiven for thinking that you have arrived in Venice by mistake if you visit Nafplio at the end of February. The carnival in Nafplio is a two-day celebration that takes place every year during the last weekend before Lent. It's a time for excesses of eating, drinking, and merrymaking, as devout followers prepare for the forty-day fast before Easter. Dating back to the worship of Dionysus, the god of wine and celebration in ancient times, the carnival is an age-old tradition in Greece.
Imagine walking through the cobbled streets of a charming town, surrounded by masked revellers, jugglers and harlequins dancing to Latin rhythms. You might think you've stumbled into Venice, but you're actually in Nafplio. The carnival in Nafplio has a unique flavor, owing to the Venetian influence over the town, and is also known as Anapliotika Carnival. It is a chance for the townsfolk to dress up in disguise, wear beautiful costumes and exquisite face masks, and enjoy the spontaneity of an age-old tradition that continues to be enjoyed by young and old alike.
If you're planning a visit to Nafplio in February, make sure you don't miss the carnival. You'll be swept up in a phantasmagoric street celebration that culminates in the burning of the Carnival King on Sunday evening.
Are you a running enthusiast looking for an exhilarating challenge? Look no further than the Nafplio Marathon, an annual event that draws over 6,000 runners from all over the world to the beautiful town of Nafplio.
Taking place every March, the Nafplio Marathon is not just a race, but an incredible experience that offers the perfect mix of athletic competition and cultural immersion. The marathon attracts both professional athletes and amateur runners, providing an opportunity for everyone to push themselves to their limits.
But the Nafplio Marathon isn't just about running. The event is a celebration of Greek culture and tradition, with the town coming alive with music, dancing, and delicious local cuisine. The marathon route takes runners through the picturesque streets of Nafplio, offering stunning views of the town's historic architecture, as well as the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding countryside. Whether you are a seasoned runner or just looking for a fun and unique experience, the Nafplio Marathon is an event not to be missed.
Nafplio is a popular destination throughout the year, but if you are looking for an experience like no other, then consider visiting Nafplio during the period of Greek Orthodox Easter, where the town's streets come alive with the sound of music and the scent of traditional Greek delicacies.
Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls later than Catholic Easter, and the period leading up to Easter Sunday is known as Holy Week—a time of fasting and reflection. It is marked by solemn religious processions, traditional Greek delicacies, and customs that have been passed down for centuries. The local restaurants offer special menus during this period, which accommodate the traditional fasts but also include traditional dishes. The holiday marks the beginning of spring, and many of the customs associated with Easter have their roots in ancient Greek celebrations of rebirth.
As you stroll around the cobbled alleys, you'll catch sight of hard-boiled eggs being dyed red, a symbol of the blood of Christ. The scent of the blooming bougainvillea will give way to the warming aroma of baking bread—the traditional sweet tsoureki is flavored with orange zest or almonds and a must-try dish during Easter.
Holy Thursday symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ, and the churches stay open all night as the faithful keep vigil and begin the preparation of the funeral bier.
Good Friday sees the solemn mourning procession through the picturesque narrow streets. The flower-decorated Epitaphs from the main churches meet in the central Syntagma Square, accompanied by local choirs and the Philharmonic Orchestra, while the warm spring breeze carries the fragrance of flowers through the streets. As the week progresses, the atmosphere changes, and anticipation fills the air.
On Holy Saturday, the whole town gathers for the jubilant resurrection liturgy and to welcome the holy light amidst cries of Christ has risen!, which is a truly moving moment to witness. People begin gathering at their local church around 11 PM, and when evening comes, you will witness a transformation. The darkness is punctuated by the lighting of hundreds of candles, the sounds of happy greetings and fireworks. The ringing of church bells can be heard for miles around. Families gather to break their month-long fast of Lent with a specially prepared lemon soup of lamb livers and fresh greens after midnight.
In contrast to the solemn reverence of the days before, you can feel the celebratory mood taking over on Easter Sunday. Friends and family come together in high spirits to feast, drink, talk and dance. The traditional roasted lamb is a must-try, and you can witness the smashing of the red eggs, a tradition where the person whose egg holds without cracking is declared lucky. The atmosphere is lively, and the entire town is filled with the sound of traditional Greek music, laughter, and conversation. A sumptuous culinary feast continues throughout the day, accompanied by copious amounts of wine and dancing.
The Orthodox Easter is a week-long festival that is still celebrated all over Greece, during which traditional customs are very much adhered to. Nowhere else can one enjoy the beautiful spring landscape resonate with a real air of renewal than at enchanting Nafplio during Easter.
If you're looking for an experience that oozes luxury and glamour, then you don't want to miss the highly-anticipated Mediterranean Yacht Show in Nafplio. This spectacular event offers a unique opportunity to witness some of the world's most exquisite charter yachts up close and personal, and get a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the rich and famous.
The atmosphere during the show is nothing short of electric, with visitors from all over the world gathering to enjoy the sights and sounds of this exciting event. With the picturesque port of Nafplio as the backdrop, it is a true feast for the eyes. The gleaming vessels are sure to take your breath away.
Whether you're a seasoned sailor or simply appreciate the finer things in life, the Mediterranean Yacht Show is an experience not to be missed. From the excitement of the yacht exhibitions to the vibrant nightlife and cultural events that surround the show, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Every year, Nafplio comes alive with the sound of music during the Nafplio Music Festival. This festival is a celebration of classical and jazz music, bringing together world-renowned musicians and talented local artists.
The festival takes place in late June to July in some of the most atmospheric venues in town, including the Vouleftikon, the first Hellenic Parliament as well as the courtyard of St. George's Square.
Whether you are a fan of jazz or classical music, you will find something to enjoy at the Nafplio Music Festival. The festival's aim is to put Nafplio in the spotlight as a center for classical music, and it certainly delivers. From symphonies to operas, from string quartets to solo recitals, the festival offers a rich variety of concerts that will satisfy even the most demanding music lovers.
One of the highlights of the festival is the opening event, which takes place in the historic Syntagma Square, the heart of Nafplio's old town. The square is a perfect setting for an outdoor concert, with its beautiful neoclassical buildings and the imposing statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece. The opening event sets the tone for the rest of the festival, and it is a great opportunity to mingle with locals and visitors alike.
Another venue that should not be missed is the Palamidi Fortress, the Venetian castle that overlooks the town. Several of the festival's performances take place in the fortress, and they are not to be missed. Imagine listening to a string quartet while watching the sunset over the Argolic Gulf, or attending an opera performance in a historic castle—these are experiences that will stay with you forever.
Since its inception in 1955, the Epidaurus Festival has been a prominent cultural event, showcasing some of the most well-known theatrical performances in Greece during the summer months. Over the years, the festival has welcomed some of the world's most iconic actors and musicians who have graced its stages with their exceptional talents. The legendary Maria Callas herself played the lead role in Medea in 1961, while Kevin Spacey took on the role of Shakespeare's Richard III in 2011. It is no surprise, then, that the Epidaurus Festival is considered a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a cultural experience full of history and great performances at a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dedicated to theater and the performing arts, the festival takes place at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, a magnificent venue renowned for its exceptional acoustics and stunning setting. Don't miss this unique opportunity to see ancient Greek tragedies and comedies performed in the very same venues that once hosted them over two thousand years ago. From the epic tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles to the timeless comedies of Aristophanes, the Epidaurus Festival promises to take you on a journey back in time to the ancient world of Greek theater.
Whether you are a theater enthusiast or simply looking for a culturally enriching experience, the Epidaurus Festival is definitely worth a visit and less than half an hour's drive from Nafplio.
As the sun sets and the August Full Moon rises, the picturesque town of Nafplio comes alive with an enchanting atmosphere that is perfect for a romantic getaway. The full moon has always been a symbol of balance, completion, and empowerment of the human psyche in all cultures. For the ancient Greeks, it was also a symbol of fertility and new beginnings.
The town of Nafplio invites you to take a stroll around its beautiful little streets or enjoy a walk along the seafront before finding the perfect spot to witness this stunning natural phenomenon. The moon slowly appears behind the Palamidi Fortress, and the warm shades of the summer sun give way to the majestic beauty of the moon, casting a magical glow over the entire town.
If you're a culture enthusiast, drive all the way to Palamidi Fortress early in the afternoon and challenge yourself to climb all 999 steps to be there on time for the moonrise. From 8 PM to midnight, the archaeological site of Palamidi will be open to visitors, and a music program will be planned for this special day.
The Dormition of Mary or Dekapentavgoustos is one of the most important religious celebrations in the Orthodox calendar, and it takes place on August 15th every year. On this day, Mary, the Mother of Christ, is believed to have ascended to heaven, and the occasion is widely celebrated throughout Greece. The celebration is centered around the Byzantine Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi in Aria, a small village only 3 kilometers from Nafplio and 5 kilometers from Pyrgiotika. The monastery is known for its stunning Byzantine architecture, and it is the perfect setting for the Epitaph procession around the monastery.
Early in the afternoon, the nuns residing in the monastery start chanting the hymns dedicated to Holy Mary, creating a devout atmosphere. The procession then begins, with visitors following the Epitaph around the monastery, accompanied by the sound of the hymns.
As you make your way through the procession, you'll be surrounded by the devout locals, creating a sense of community and belonging that is truly heartwarming. The experience is an unforgettable one, and it provides a unique insight into the religious traditions of Greece.
Are you looking for an exciting and unique athletic event in Greece? Look no further than the Nafplio Castle Run! Taking place in November every year, this event is not to be missed for runners of all levels.
The highlight of the event is undoubtedly the 5k Castle Run, which takes you on a breathtaking journey through the Palamidi fortress. You'll ascend 999 steps to reach the top, where you'll sprint through the castle itself before descending back down to the town on a smooth gravel-paved path. Along the way, you'll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Nafplio and the surrounding landscape.
But that's not all—more ambitious runners can take on the 10k Road Race, while families with children can participate in the 3k Fun Run or the 1.5k Junior Run. No matter which race you choose, you'll find refreshment stations and first-aid personnel along the way to ensure your safety and comfort. A medal will be awarded to all the finishers of the race.
So pack your running shoes and get ready for the Nafplio Castle Run, an event that is sure to get your heart pumping and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
The Christmas season is a time for joy and celebration, and what better way to experience this than by exploring the vibrant culture of the Peloponnese?
On Christmas Eve, the warmth of the season fills every household as families gather around the hearth to light a fire with a large log that will burn throughout the day. The house is cleaned with great care, and a special bread called Christopsomo is prepared, featuring figs and walnuts in the center, and decorated with great attention to detail. This festive loaf plays an important role in the Christmas meal.
In Nemea, a village in Corinth, a unique tradition takes place on Christmas Day. The family's teenage daughter, known as the Psychokori, awaits the family's return from church with a plate of celebratory sweets such as melomakarona, tiganopsoma, diples, and kourabiedes. These delicious treats are enjoyed by all and add to the festive atmosphere of the day.
Messinia has its own special New Year's Day tradition called podariko. The first person to enter the house on New Year's Day will bring either good or bad luck, and it is preferred that it be a young child, as their innocence is considered a good omen for the family. The father of the household is also an important participant, holding a pomegranate which he throws on the ground with great force, hoping that it will break and its seeds will scatter throughout the house, signifying prosperity for the family in the coming year.
However, the most unique and exciting tradition can be found in Nafplio on Epiphany Day. At sunrise, a priest blesses a cross and throws it into the sea, and young men from the town dive in after it. The person who retrieves the cross is carried through the town by the other men, and it is believed that he will have good luck for the rest of the year.
These age-old traditions have been passed down through generations, and they offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Peloponnese region. Take this opportunity to experience these customs and make your holiday season even more special. The warmth and hospitality of the locals will make you feel welcome and part of the community, and you will return home with memories that will last a lifetime.
So, there you have it—the most exciting festivals and events in Nafplio that you can't afford to miss. From the colorful carnival festivities to the historic reenactments of the Battle of Nafplio, there's something for everyone in this beautiful town.
As a guest at Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat, our team is always ready to help with any ticket reservations, and we strongly recommend that you make your bookings with us as early as possible in order to avoid disappointment during these busy dates.
Start planning your visit to Nafplio today, and get ready to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this beautiful region. We can't wait to welcome you to Perivoli Country Hotel & Retreat and show you all that Nafplio has to offer.