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Naxos Island  
 >>  About Naxos  >>  Culture
  • Panigiri at Filoti on 15th of Auguust
  • Panigiri at Apiranthos on 15th of Auguust
  • Panigiri at Filoti on 15th of Auguust
  • Panigiri at Apiranthos on 15th of Auguust
  • Panigiri at Apiranthos on 15th of Auguust

Did you know?

Naxos is an island with strong connections to Dionysus and Apollo -the god of wine and festivity, and the god of light and music respectively- so no wonder it is considered as “the place” to have a good time!

Music and dance is more of a way of life for the locals! People of Naxos express their thoughts, their happiness and sorrows with verses and their romantic mood with their dancing!

One should not miss the opportunity to attend a local “panaghiri” (folk festival), listen to the island music and dance along the violin and lute!

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Naxos has not only a rich historical, but also a notorious folklore tradition. Vivid cultural life throughout all seasons of the year adds allure to the island as a destination. The historical significance of the island is depicted on the monuments scattered across its territories: cycladic culture, archaic temples and statues (eg kouroi), archaeological monuments of all periods, ancient and medieval castles, numerous Byzantine churches, medieval towers, statues of important personas to the history of the nation or the island in particular. With regard to its folk culture, Naxos also presents interest all year long. Samples of the naxian strong folk culture is met in local traditions, fairy tales, narrations, anecdotes, folk songs, folk events, as well in folk poetry, which is well known as "kotsakia".

The folk activity is supplemented by the social and cultural activity. Naxos is an island with strong music and dance tradition. In most of the villages, cultural associations are established to make life more attractive, exactly by maintaining and exploiting these strong elements of local culture. Actually, music and dancing in Naxos is more of a way of life. Until today, numerous local artists and musicians – young and older- rescue and revive the music traditions and the unique “island music” (what is known as “nisiotika”) rhythm and style, which is particularly beloved among the locals. Soundtrack of most weddings and local festivals, the rhythm of the local music will get into you as well, inviting you to dance along.

Traditional musical instruments of Naxos is souvliari (flute), the noumpaki (drum), the tzampouna, violin and lute. The tzampounes are popular nowadays in everyday celebrations of the locals, as well as during the “fashing celebration” (an equivalent to the american Halloween or what the Greeks call “Apokries”. As for the violin and the lute, you will have plenty of opportunities to listen to, while in the island.

When it comes to folklore dances of Naxos, there is a strong erotic element involved. The dances are “antikristoio” (square dance), “syrtoi” (round dance) and syntechniakoi. The influences in the music and dances of the island are mainly from Minor Asia, especially from the large urban centres (Smyrna, Constantinople). The main dances of Naxos are: “Syrtos” (with slow or fast steps), “Balos” (not as an independent dance but continuity of Syrtos), “Vlacha” (with variations for each village), “Kalamatianos” (eptasimos syrtos) and finally the “Vitzilaiadistikos” (men only dance).

In general, many cultural events are organized every year by the Municipality of Naxos, the Municipality of Drimalia and the Della Rocca-Barozzi Tower. Naxos has become the permanent home of many artists, including internationally known sculptors and potters. The cultural calendar is weighted towards the summer months, reaching its peak during July and August. However, some cultural activities flower off-season to cater for the year-round population, including Greek lessons at the town hall and some adult education courses.

The Naxos Festival
The Naxos Festival takes place annually in Naxos since 2000 and is organized by the Municipality of Drymalia and the Cultural Organization "AION", in collaboration with the Benaki Museum. In the recent years (since the summer of 2001), most of the festival events are hosted in Bazeos Tower, as part of a bold and imaginative move to transform an exceptional 17th century landmark monument into a temple of learning and culture, fulfilling its original purpose even in the present.

Dionysia (Festival of Dionysus)
The “Dionysian” is a series of events organized each year by the Cultural Organization of Municipality of Naxos. The festival’s highlight is during the first weekend of September, when the “Wine Festival” takes place.

Domus Festival
The Della Rocca Barozzi Tower in the Castro of Naxos Town has been transformed into a – unique in kind – folkloric museum, as it includes in its premises furniture and objects of past centuries which used to be part of the household utilities. Through out the year – but especially during the summer season – the museum hosts important cultural activities, such as classical music concerts, local and traditional violin concerts, art exhibitions or folkloric events, inside a very special area at the tower’s cellar, and also at the yard on the side of the tower, with spectacular view, overlooking the harbor and the open western sea.

Carnival (Fashing) in Naxos
The carnival in Naxos - a folk festival the highlight of which is during the last weekend of Carnival just before Ash Monday- imitates ancient Dionysian scenes and revives ancient dionysian festivals and rituals. The locals aggregate in the central squares and have fun together, dancing and singing to the accompaniment of traditional music instruments,while enjoying delicious food and wine. “Torch parades” and street performances are celebrated all around the island, in a unique set of happenings, one should not miss if in Greece around that time of the year. In Apiranthos, it is the time that “koudounatoi” come out. “Koudounatoi” is a group of people wearing a cape with a hood, who run on the streets, shaking bells, shouting and chasing away all evil. On Ash Monday, the 1st day of Lent before Easter for the Orthodox, in the villages of Livadi, locals dress up as “foustanellatoi” or “kordellatoi”, embellished with colored ribbons and coins, dancing and singing in small groups in the villages’ squares.

On the eve of Saint’s John Celebration, on the 23rd of June, fires are lighted in the villages, where the locals burn wreaths from the first of May (flower wreaths created to celebrate the coming of spring), while the younger people and children jump and dance over the fire, 3 times each, as a symbolic move for good health and prevailing all bad things.

Panaghyria (Folk Festivals)
Many traditional festivals take place throughout the year, being tied in with the Greek Orthodox Church calendar. Villagers gather at a local chapel for a service of blessing followed by a feast with local food and wine, and often dancing and music, celebrate a saints day or give thanks for produce in the farming or fishing year. Visitors are welcome and may even be given priority seating.

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