With year-round sunshine and a hearty appetite for cultural enlightenment that harks back to antiquity, Athenians have always known how to put on a good show. Read our checklist to track some of the annual highlights of Athens’ festival calendar before you plan your next stay.
Arts & Culture
Athens City Festival
Filing this one under any of the mentioned categories in this article is a tough one, as Athens City Festival has a little something for every taste. Athens’ biggest spring festival, organized by the City of Athens, boasts a rich programme that includes open walks, exhibitions, picnics, street parties, large concerts, intimate gigs, sport events, and gastronomical delights all throughout May. Best of all, everything is for free. Yes, even a wine-pairing dinner at the Acropolis Museum Restaurant, or an open-air concert with Cinematic Orchestra at Kotzia Square. All for free.
Athens Epidaurus Festival
See the great works of ancient Greek playwrights like Sophocles and Aristophanes where they were first performed at this three-month celebration of music, theatre, dance and visual arts. You’ll catch international and Greek legends like Sting and Nana Mouskouri, alongside opera classics. The two main venues—the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the ancient theatre of Epidaurus—are as epic as the stars that rock them.
Once a three-day summer art fling bringing together the city’s most influential local galleries, emerging stars and international exhibitors under one roof, Art Athina has evolved with our post-pandemic times. It's now a month-long virtual affair with browsing rooms and cool artist interactions; staged in tandem with a shorter-run live Pop Up exhibition that's free to the public.
Summer Nostos Festival
A week-long extravaganza of free, outdoor entertainment to usher in the summer, hosted by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre each June. The annual line-up is a fantastic blend of music, dance, sports, workshops, featuring global stars like Lianne la Havas, Seu Jorge, and Charlotte Rampling.
Athens Digital Arts Festival
Catch a glimpse of the future. Art meets science by way of interactive installations, video art, animations and audiovisual performances designed to challenge our reality. Be it normal, augmented or virtual.
Onassis Fast Forward Festival
You’ve heard about industry disruptors, right? Now meet one of Athens’ largest cultural disruptors. The Onassis Stegi's Fast Forward Festival is a two-week blast of contemporary culture that challenges everything we think about art, life and the universe through hybrid performances, interactive installations and video works in public and private spaces all over Athens.
Summer & Winter Editions
One of Greece’s more intriguing music festivals, Plisskën defies genres and expectations. Expect to hear the sounds of the future, along with multi-cultural events and exhibitions, at this killer two-day blast. Their 2022 summer line-up features Bonobo, Caribou, Slowthai, Princess Nokia, Avalon Emerson and more.
Rock out to global acts and emerging artists at this rollicking music headliner that sets the tone for a summer of sound. Hosted mainly at the fantastic waterfront venue of Plateia Nerou—a cinch to get to from the city centre—Ejekt is a huge hit with both locals and out of townies.
Megaron Concert Hall Garden Series
During the summer the Megaron Concert Hall transforms its gardens into the charmed setting for a series of outdoor musical evenings. You might hear anything from the Vienna Philharmonic to a snazzy tribute to Leonard Cohen, all performed under the moonlight, among the orange and carob trees.
Colour Day Festival
Colour and sound collide at this loved-up festival that channels India's Holi. Go for the hot line-up of Greek talent and the kick of colouring yourself beautiful from the kaleidoscopic explosions of bright powder that the event is named for. Leave your best clothes at home.
Here’s something to get jazzed about. A week-long celebration of jazz beats at one of the city’s most happening venues, Technopolis. Local and international musicians perform under the Athenian skies well into the warm summer night. Did we mention that it’s free?
ADD stands for "Athens Dance till Dawn", a well chosen name for this dynamic electronic festival that was founded in 2018. ADD takes place at the old Elliniko Airport and offers free Uber rides to there from the nearest metro station. The 2020 edition grew into a five-day festival that also featured events at venues in downtown Athens.
A highlight of the Athens summer festival season, Release dishes up heavyweight acts to a hungry Greek audience at seaside Platia Nerou. Announcements about who’s headlining each year are hotly awaited. The line-up for 2022 features powerful metal acts such as Slipknot, Judas Priest, Sabaton and more, as well as Bauhaus, Massive Attack and Pet Shop Boys.
Athens International Film Festival - AIFF (Premiere Nights)
Catch hot indie movies from all over the world before the masses, as well as the most buzzed-about productions of the season, at this popular two-week film festival. The opening night premiere unofficially signals the start of the Athens film festival season.
Athens Avant-Garde Film Festival
See the freshest and most groundbreaking movies in world cinema at this hot annual ticket that packs its programme with undistributed films and classic masterpieces.
Panorama of European Cinema
Athens' longest running film festival is a must-attend event for anyone with an appetite for European arthouse movies and world cinema.
Athens Open Air Film Festival
A crowd favourite and for good reason. This festivals transforms Athens into one big (and free) outdoor cinema all summer long. Timeless classics are screened under the starry Athenian sky against a backdrop of iconic landmarks: museums, squares, gardens, and archaeological parks.
Athens Short Film Festival
Good things come in small packages at this popular new event that champions the cinematic underdog known as the short movie. From non-mainstream documentaries to rousing fictional works that challenge our ideas of cinema and art, expect to see dozens of stories worth watching, submitted by filmmakers from around the world.
Food & Drink
An edible paean to the king of fast food. Athenian restaurants and burger houses show off their juiciest meat cuts in this quest to see “who grills it best”. Food contests, family fun and live music are served on the side.
Athens Street Food Festival
Are you the type who takes ages to decide what to order when faced with a lengthy menu? Then perhaps steer clear of the Athens Street Food Festival. Treats from all corners of the globe are served up by some of the city’s hottest ethnic restaurants over three delicious weekends.
Athens Beer Festival
What do life and beer have in common? Both are best when chilled. Athens Beer Festival serves ice-cold brews of every persuasion to Athenian ale lovers. There’s no better place to explore the Athenian craft beer and micro-brewery scene.
Athens International Tattoo Convention
Thinking about ink? Whether you’re a nervy first-timer or a lifelong stigmatophile contemplating your next needlework, the AITC is your happy place. Check out the goods from more than 250 international and local tattoo artists, enjoy live music, and dive into some great graffiti displays.
Embrace your inner geek at this two-day salute to comic and pop culture. Meet famous guests from your favourite TV shows, take part in sketch events and workshops, try your hand at new video and board games, or enjoy screenings and cosplay (that’s costume play for the uninitiated) with your comic crushes.
Athens Retro Festival
If you love Grease, La La Land and Stranger Things, chances are you’ll get a kick out of this four-day blast from the past. Travel back to the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s with live music, dance parties, vintage markets, photography sittings and free retro hair and make-up sessions.
Athens Science Festival
Explore the connection between science and everyday life at this spring festival that asks the big questions. And then strives to answer them in an entertaining, innovative and interactive way. Fun for visitors of all backgrounds and ages.