Ionian Islands - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events
Facts for the traveller for Ionian IslandsTime: GMT/UTC +2 (+3 Apr-Sept)
When to Go to Ionian Islands
As in other Greek island groups, prime time in the Ionians is late spring to early summer and autumn - that's Easter to mid-June and September-October. The winter off-season months (November to early April) aren't too bad weatherwise, but most hotels and restaurants are closed, and bus and ferry services are nigh nonexistent. On remote Kythira things start winding down in early September. Mid-June to the end of August is party time on the islands - swell if you like things sweltering, swarming and sold-out.
Ionian Islands Events
The February/March pre-Lenten Carnival is a particularly big deal on Kefallonia and Zakynthos, with all the expected feasting, dancing and mayhem. Greek Easter (March-April) is huge everywhere in Greece but particularly so on Corfu, where the mummified body of the town's patron saint, Saint Spyridon, is given an airing on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Candlelit processions take place in towns and villages throughout the Ionians on Good Friday, and the next evening's Resurrection Mass is marked by fireworks and more candlelit processions. The islands celebrate their Unification Day on 21 May with wreath-laying, marches and military parades. Saint Spyridon's remains are taken for another jaunt around Corfu Town on 11 August, St Spyridon's Day, and marching bands, community leaders and packs of people throng the city's streets. Cultural pursuits are highlighted in July and August, with Kefallonia's cultural festival and art exhibitions, Lefkada's International Festival of Literature & Art and the Paxos Festival of Music. Assumption (15 August) is an important religious festival throughout the islands, though the most bizarre of the Assumption festivities would have to be the phenomenon of the Virgin's snakes in Markopoulo on Kefallonia.
Banks, shops and most museums close on New Year's Day, Epiphany (6 January), the first Sunday in Lent (February), Greek Independence Day (25 March), Good Friday & Easter Sunday (March/April), Labour Day (1 May), Feast of the Assumption (15 August), Ohi Day (28 October), Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day (26 December). On Corfu some businesses close on St Spyridon's Day (11 August).