September 30, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Easter in Leonidio: a breathtaking spectacle of flaming balloons

Leonidio is the perfect place for spring excursions, not to mention Easter, when one of the most famous Greek customs, flaming balloons, unfolds in the capital of Tsakonia. In addition, Leonidio has become one of the most famous climbing sites in the world.

Sun, sea, blooming wild flowers, well-groomed yards and a beautiful city. Over 1,000 balloons are launched into the sky on Easter, creating a breathtaking spectacle. This is a custom said to have been brought by local sailors from the East.

Balloons are made by local craftsmen. It all starts with the collection of reeds, which will then be used for the frame. Then you need to carefully glue 16 paper fragments of the canvas, usually red and orange. Making a hot air balloon requires great skill, but in Leonidio they are taught to make “from an early age”. In elementary school, at labor lessons, little Leonidians carefully collect all the details of the ball together, and then traditionally, on Friday before Lazarus Saturday, the “creation” is launched into the sky.

This year a group of children prepared a balloon for flight on Holy Saturday at 10:30. On the night when the “Resurrection of the Lord” will take place and in the five churches of the city everyone will hear the bell ringing, thousands of flaming balloons will soar into the sky at once, and fireworks will also add festive mood to the audience.

Leonidio’s Easter balloons are one of the most spectacular customs in Greece.

Residents of the village of Leonidio (southeast of the Peloponnese) are sure that it is they and only they in the village who have the most interesting, unforgettable and best celebration of Easter – the festival of balloons. Before Easter, throughout Holy Week, many local residents with great zeal, using traditional technology from reeds and special paper with a rag soaked in oil or diesel fuel, make balloons about two meters high, sometimes even higher. And at night, with the first “Christ is Risen!”, a truly unique spectacle begins – from 4 places in the village (these are 4 dioceses – church yards), several hundred (sometimes up to a thousand) balloons rise up! The entire sky is filled with glowing orange lanterns.

On Good Friday, an epitaph will be held in the streets of the city. The ceremony of carrying out the Holy Sepulcher is carried out by the Metropolis. After the launch of the balloons, they burn the symbolic figure of Judas, made of straw and old branches. Indeed, a very unusual, bright and memorable celebration will leave an indelible impression. Well, in the afternoon, already on Easter Sunday, the Leonidio City Hall treats all those who come (residents, guests) with roasted lambs, Easter eggs and red wine.

You will enjoy walking around Leonidio without taking your eyes off Kokkinovrachos, the imposing red rock. Pay attention to the old mansions, elegant gates and flower-filled courtyards. It is also worth visiting the Agora, the main street, where there are taverns and shops. You can also take a walk along the river. On the cultural multi-site ( you will find detailed information: from exhibitions, museums, historical and architectural buildings to admiring the special Tsakonian dance and, of course, getting to know the local dishes (for example, it is worth trying the Tsakonian eggplant).

And if you love outdoor activities, then know that Leonidio is a paradise for climbers, and the season, thanks to moderate temperatures, is ideal for this sport.


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