From cool pop-up museums and free concerts to arty illuminations in ancient promenades, Athens turns up the volume on Christmas this year with a dazzling month-long menu of over 60 festive sights and delights. Here’s our wrap-up of the jolliest yuletide action to light up your stay in the Greek capital:
Christmas 2019 officially rides into town on 10 December with a trio of seasonal spectacles that weave the traditional with the futuristic. Grab your spot in Syntagma Square before 7.30pm to see the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, switch on the lights in this historic landmark (and all over the city) to some kicking live local beats. Keep your eyes alive. In an Athens’ first, showstopping 3D projection mapping will paint the iconic Parliament building opposite with a stream of colour and sensations at various intervals during the night. Over on majestic Dionysiou Areopagitou—the paved promenade that shadows the Acropolis—ancient monuments will glow against contemporary light displays and interactive art installations by the Athens Digital Arts Festival (you can enjoy them until 10th January).
On 12 December (and until 6 January), nothing will be what it seems in Syntagma Square when the Museum of Illusions wheels out its most popular exhibits to confuse and confound our senses in a pop-up attraction. Three days later—on 15 December—watch out for the legion of speedy Santas—or sign up to be one yourself—as the much-loved charity event Santa Run returns to the historic centre of Athens.
Over two weekends (14 & 21 December), you can shop Greek treats and festive eats at the Athens Conservatory in a bumper Christmas edition of The Meet Market, one of the city’s buzziest entrepreneurial ventures. Culture vultures can summon their seasonal spirits at a rousing performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio by the Athens State Orchestra on 21 December at the Athens Concert Hall, or watch a free festive screening under the stars, such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, between 27-29 December, at the Athens Open Air Film Festival: Christmas Edition in Thissio.
Usher in Christmas in Kotzia Square on Christmas Eve when the sky above City Hall alights with the moving sight of hundreds of lanterns carrying the hopes of young and old, accompanied by an audiovisual spectacular by the Athens Digital Arts Festival in The Night of Wishes. In town for 31 December? Join the city’s residents and salute the new decade in Syntagma Square as Athens throws a glittering New Year’s Eve party with hot local bands, DJs and—of course—fireworks.
If you’re visiting with children, Athens has bags of Christmas cheer to keep them smiling until well into the new year. Take them to the SNFCC for a free whirl on the ice, a kid’s disco or to marvel at space-age light installations; remind them what Christmas is all about at a fresh musical spin on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; or immerse them in a magical world of elves, bells, toys and treats at the Christmas Factory at Technopolis.
For more Christmas inspiration, check out the full-programme of 2019-2020 city celebrations here and also visit our events page.