Crete month by month
Crete is great to visit any time of the year but each month and season has its own particular joys and interesting thing to do and see. Check below Harry’s official month by month guide to what is happening in Crete!
If you find yourself in Crete in January, your days will be full! See the magnificent snowy mountain villages in the island and walk the narrow streets, the people of Crete will make you feel the warmth.
January is the month the majority of olive picking is done. Along with Harilaos, you will have the opportunity to visit the olive groves where in the morning the fruits are gathered and later in the afternoon go to mills. Learn about and experience the production process of Cretan olive oil.
Beyond the picking season, January is also full of village festivals. On the 17th of the month the feast of St. Anthony takes place and on the 18th the feast of St. Athanasius. At both festivals you will meet happy people, eat great food and usually drink a large amount of raki!
The different villages are waiting for you to explore and discover the genuine Cretan hospitality in February. A special experience is to be had on the 10th when the feast of Saint Charalambos should not be missed. Locals prepare to ferment rice and raki flows abundantly into glasses to prepare for the traditional feast with serenades, dance and song.
March is the month that opens the spring, nature begins to bloom and the landscape changes.
On March 17 is the festival of St. Alexis with revelry taking place at the chapel of St. Kissamos on the mountain. During the official carnival period, Harilaos escapes from standard parades in cities and visit the carnivals of different villages where tradition meets modern Greek customs of the ancient god Dionysus.
While touring visit the famous “Olive the Vouves”. The olive tree is the oldest olive tree in the world, more than 2,500 years old! The tree has been designated a natural monument by Unesco and every four years, before the start of the Olympic Games, it provides the olive wreath which is given to the winner of the marathon.
April is the month that usually contains the Orthodox Easter celebration.
On Good Friday a large livestock fair is held in which many breeders gather and exchange products. The same evening you can go to the Epitaph attended by five neighbouring villages. On April 23 celebrates St George , the patron of shepherds. Such a festival could not go unnoticed in a region such as Crete!
That day, the farmers gather their flocks in excess of 2,500 animals and go to the priest for blessing. Then the animals are milked and the fresh milk is offered to guests with Cretan rusks. This custom is very old and nobody can say for sure exactly when it started.
In May, the flowers of the island are in full bloom. On May Day one can stroll a lush Crete and reach various festivals held in the mountain villages. Also in May is an opportunity to see sheep shearing up close. Farmers gather approximately 300 sheep that are then shorn and local Cretans celebrate with lots of food and raki.
On the 6th of the month you can visit the unique church of St. Job in Greece and combine your trip with food in traditional taverns are closed during the winter months.
If you find yourself in Crete in May, Harilaos can take you to a unique habitat where the rare bearded vulture lives. The vulture is an endangered species and Crete is the only place in Europe where this bird lives. Definitely worth a visit to see the unique beauty of nature and if you are lucky this rare bird.
June marks the beginning of summer, a time when Crete is at its best. If you visit the island in June you can still see the sheep shearing parties. Additionally, you can see forests with rich flora and fauna, which during the winter months are impossible to visit because of the weather. Finally, do not miss the cherry festivals held in Gerakari, Rethymno and Karanou, Chania.
In July, the heat rises and grows together with the festive atmosphere of Crete. Various clubs organize events where guests can experience the products of the land, to eat, drink and dance. The celebration of pilaf, the Rooster, ouzo, honey and snail are only a few of festivals held in July.
Also, on the 20th of the month, comes the great celebration of the Prophet Elijah. During the third ten days of July in Deliana, Chania a demonstration of traditional Georgalidou horses is held. It is a breed of horse with a characteristic gait which was living alone in Crete and would have disappeared by now if it were not for locals care.
In August the festivities by Cretan associations continue. You can visit the festival of gruyere where you will learn about the manufacture of cheese, the celebration of cottage cheese, the harvesting of oil, fish, raki and more!
You’ll be able to visit a traditional threshing and see in front of you how and why it is done. Since August is the hottest month of the year you will (of course) take a cool swim in the crystal waters of Crete. The golden beaches are a monument of nature in any event not to be missed.
September is still a busy month for Crete. In September the harvest of grapes is an important event. Along with Harilaos visit vineyards and later in the afternoon you can go to the so-called ‘push’, a traditional process for making beverages, such as wine and raki.
At the same time many traditional festivals take place in villages and on the 14th of the month there is the long celebration of the Holy Cross. People of all ages gather on the tops of mountains to commemorate and celebrate God.
In October Harilaos will go to traditional wine cellars where you can try or even buy the excellent Cretan wine.
The last ten days of October is the traditional time of the Chestnut festivals where you will enjoy plenty of food and drink. We can also visit the trees themselves to learn why the chestnut plays such an important role in Cretan life.
November is raki month! This period effectively starts from 25 October and ends on the first day of December. The “kazanemata” as it is called, is the final production process of raki. Cretans from all over the island gather and celebrate the production of the local beverage. The production process can last for up to two days depending on the quantity of grapes being used!
December is a wild month in Crete giving it a unique beauty that few non locals ever experience.
If the weather permits, you can go to snowy villages and enjoy a hot meal in taverns.
Many choose this month to harvest the fruit from the trees and along with Harilaos you can experience this process up close.
December is also the feast of St. Nicholas, a celebration that only the Cretans truly know how to celebrate properly! Around the island more than 150 festivals are organized to which people of all ages flock to celebrate. Finally, in view of Christmas, two large caves of Crete are converted to resemble mangers which are worth a visit along with the locals.