Autumn Festivals in Crete

September feels more like summer than autumn in Crete, thanks to the fair weather and the rare rainfall. If you’re booking a romantic getaway during term time, you can expect the weather to be glorious and the events plentiful. In this blog, we consider the events and festivals that you could be enjoying in Crete this autumn.

The Festival of St Stavros – September 13th – 14th

Mid-September, residents celebrate the Festival of St Stavros in the villages of Aptera and Maza. Over two days, locals gather to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross, which is the celebration of the cross which crucified Jesus as the instrument of humanity’s salvation. Other names for this festival include The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, The Triumph of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, and Holy Rood Day.

As part of the celebration, the village squares are transformed into outdoor folk party areas, with plenty of food and drink on hand (especially local wine and tsikoudia) to celebrate the festival of Timio Stavros (literally meaning Holy Cross).

World Day of Tourism – September 27th

As a tourist island, Crete celebrates World Day of Tourism on 27th September. The old harbour of Chania becomes the centre of celebrations and puts visitors at the heart of the festivities. The major archaeological sites and the museums across the island celebrate too, offering free entrance days to the public.

The capital of Heraklion is the focal point of the celebrations with events being held across the city in multiple squares. Often, there is a chance for tourists to enjoy free local food samples from Archaeological Museum Square, making this festival the perfect chance for first-time visitors to Crete to try a little bit of everything.

This day is often held in combination with celebrations of the Union of Crete with Greece, so it is a very meaningful day for the locals.

Taste Autumn with Elos Chestnut Harvest Festival – October/November

Autumn in Crete is the season of olive, grape and chestnut harvesting, so not only is our island blessed by beautiful weather during the autumn months, our flora and fauna are also at their best. You should expect to see wild trees and shrubs heaving with fruits and numerous plants bursting into flower. For experiencing Cretan wildlife, autumn is the best time to visit us.

With such an abundance of fresh produce, autumn is also the best time to taste Crete. Our oil and wine presses are busy creating some of Crete’s finest taste sensations, with plenty of opportunities for you to try our local tsikoudia.

The Elos chestnut harvest and festival presents individuals with the opportunity to enjoy great food, wine, roasted chestnuts, costuming, dancing and various competitions. Unfortunately, the day of the festival changes every year and is dependent on the weather. To enjoy this event, you need to cross your fingers and hope it coincides with your stay.

Where Should I Stay? Villa Diktamos – Stilos

Villa Diktamos is located at the foot of the Diktamos Gorge in Stilos. Surrounding this gorgeous stone villa is the Diktamos Gorge, 4km from the village of Aptera and stretching over to the village of Katohori – 7km later and a few hundred feet higher.

The walk up the gorge is along a dry, stony riverbed, with boulders as you progress higher up – one boulder near the top of the gorge even has a rickety wooden ladder leaning up against it to enable you to climb on top of it.

The village centre of Stilos (sometimes spelt Stylos) is located 2km from Villa Dikatamos. The village is well known locally for its riverside tavernas which are shaded by giant plane trees. The restful shade and charming scenery make Stilos a popular place for celebrating weddings and christenings, and as such, it is generally regarded as an exceptionally happy and positive area. Expect to hear live music on the wind during the evenings as you pass the homely tavernas.

Crete is an island that can be enjoyed all year round, but to experience Crete during its autumn months is an experience that shouldn’t be skipped. You could be looking forward to enjoying the best that Crete has to offer this autumn, without the crowds that appear during peak times.

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