Starting December 24 and up to January 2, all festive events hosted by the Municipality are cancelled due to preventantive measures against the Covid Omicron variant.
It’s fair to say that Christmas last year in Athens was a little bit of a fizzer.
All stuck in lockdown; watching from the sidelines as many of our favourite festive routines and Yuletide hangouts were put on ice (even the ice-skating).
Watch us make up for it this year!
From Tuesday, December 7 to Thursday, January 13, the City of Athens gets in touch with its inner Santa big time to roll out a dazzling raft of Christmas cheer across 52 spots in the capital.
There’ll be everything from open-air film screenings and neighbourhood Christmas villages, to free musical theatre and live concerts in illuminated festive squares. Oh, and the ice-skating’s back on the bill too.
Says the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis:
“In this difficult period that has been caused by the prolonged climate of the pandemic, the Municipality of Athens has responded with music, with theatre, with Christmas surprises for everyone, young and old.
"Observing all the sanitary protection measures, we invite Athenians and visitors to our city to live this year's joyful festive experience.”
Here are some of the highlights to look out for if you are visiting Athens over Christmas and New Year.
But first, let’s get you in the mood with a peek at the spectacular lighting ceremony of our Christmas tree in Syntagma Square earlier this month, as Athens goes “all in” on Christmas 2021.
Ice rink in Kotzia Square
When: December 15 until January 6
We blame Hollywood romcoms but somehow Christmas just seems more Christmassy when there’s an ice-rink to whirl about on, right? Join in that most festive of sports - or simply watch all the thrills and spills, joy and laughter from afar – on Athens’ largest ice arena, with a space of 400 sqm, in landmark Kotzia Square, opposite City Hall. Admission is free with electronic pre-booking of seats required, book here.
Christmas cheer for all to hear
When: During December
The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Municipality of Athens will take to the streets and urban neighbourhoods of Athens to ramp up the city’s festive groove with musical pop-up events.
Christmas neighbourhood "villages"
When: December 17 to January 7
If you’re exploring Athens' buzziest downtown neighbourhoods, such as Pangrati or Kypseli, with the kids in tow, be sure to look out for Santa and his elves. They’ll be staking out their own Christmas “villages” to welcome passers-by with sweets, Christmas crafts and other festive interactions. There’ll also be stilt walkers, jugglers, Christmas mascots, animateurs, puppets and magicians to max out the festive fun
Open-air cinema and theatrical performances
When: December 17-30
Who said al fresco cinema was just for summer? For classic movie lovers, seven separate locations throughout the city will be transformed into outdoor cinemas with cosy wintery vibes to screen cherished Christmas movies selected by the Athens Open Air Film Festival in collaboration with Premiere Nights. There's everything from the Gremlins, to Singing in the Rain. The locations are: the junction of Ermou and Asomaton streets in Thissio, the Kolonos Theatre, the Municipal Market of Kypseli, in Messolonghi Square in Pangrati, at the Ampelokipi basketball court, the Gravas Theatre, and at historic Zappeion.
From December 18, you can enjoy a free festive performance of the comic opera "The Cretan Girl" at the Municipal "Maria Callas" Musical Theatre in Olympia. Those who can’t speak Greek can simply soak up the seasonal splendour at one of Athens’ landmark buildings where Maria Callas made her stage debut in April 1944 (you can clock some of her personal belongings displayed in the foyer).
Lanterns of wishes
When: Christmas Eve
To help Santa find his way safely to Athens, the sky above Kotzia Square will alight with the glow of the traditional lanterns of the Night of Wishes in one of the city’s most enjoyable Christmas Eve spectacles. Watch this impressive audiovisual show from the Athens Digital Arts Festival work its magic against the backdrop of City Hall.
When: December 30
Usher in the final day of 2021 with some silky smooth Yuletide nostalgia. That’s Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, to you and me. Stavros Romanos and Jenny Kapadais reprise the legendary duo’s top tracks at this zippy free performance at the Municipal "Maria Callas" Musical Theatre in Olympia.
The Twelve Days of Christmas (and a New Year's Eve surprise)
When: December 31
It’s New Year's Eve and we’re headed back to the Municipal "Maria Callas" Musical Theatre to bid adieu to 2021 (can’t say we’ll miss you!) with a free festive concert of songs and hymns from around the world.
The City of Athens pledges to have one final flourish in store in the form of a surprise event as we open the door wide to 2022. We'll keep you posted!
Meanwhile, you can follow all the festive action on the Culture in Athens Instagram account.