Kissamos is a place filled with cultural activities and events where you can still see the traditions, manners and customs of the local area. It has a rich musical tradition with the distinctive sounds of the lyre and violin that play in the bands at all local events, and plentiful customary dishes such as xerotigina, fresh walnuts, pistachios and of course tsikoudia (raki). Crete is famous for its ‘mantinadas’ – improvised soulful ballads recited by groups of men, and no more so than in Kissamos.
Gramvoussa – Cretan wedding
The Gramvoussa festival is a set of cultural events beginning in August and going through to the first ten days in September. The programme of events has been organized for the past 25 years by the Gramvoussa Association and has taken its name from the far west peninsular on Crete. It consists of such events as volleyball games, races, cycling, chess tournaments, literacy, artistic and folklore evenings as well as concerts at the stone amphitheatre in Nopigia. The highlight of the festival is the impressive staged Cretan wedding where two young local people will represent the bride and groom. Dressed in traditional costumes the couple and their entourage make their way through town on magnificent thoroughbred Cretan horses in an impressive parade with accompanying music. There follows a large feast with traditional music and dancing, food, wine and raki that goes on long into the night and early morning.
Agricultural fair in August
First organized in Kissamos in August 2008 the food, agricultural and craft fair was a great success. The event highlights local traditional products and crafts such as sweets, traditional foods, embroidery and woodcraft – all specialities of the region. During the exhibition there are also various artistic events, musical evenings and lectures on various topics.
In every corner of Crete, every high mountain, seemingly inaccessible place, along the rugged coastline, in the forests, caves and rocks there are churches, places of worship, evidence of the strong religious feelings of the inhabitants of Crete that have sustained them in difficult times. The churches all celebrate at least once a year where the faithful flock to show their devotion and to enjoy nature, good food, wine, music and song in the form of mantinadas. These festivals offer a great opportunity for celebration in the traditional style and some of the most popular are listed below:
- Chrisoskalitissa Assumption of the Virgin August 15th
- Sirikari Assumption of the Virgin August 15th
- Voulgaro Assumption of the Virgin August 15th
- San Falassarna Photis August 11th
- Rodopou St. John Gonia August 28th
- Nopigia St. Pandelemon July 27th
- Nopigia Virgin Myrtidiotisa September 24th
The carnival of Kissamos dates back many years but after an interval of a few years has returned again so that the 2009 carnival was a great success with many participants as well as spectators. During the carnival period the town of Kissamos has a special atmosphere with other smaller events taking place such as a treasure hunt and various carnival dances.
Euro - Mediterranean youth centre - stone theatre
In the early 1980s The Orthodox Academy of Crete’s bishop of Kissamos and Selinou Eirinaio Galanakis together with the general director Alex Papaderou established the Euro Youth Centre in Crete and Gavdos. In two successive phases the Orthodox Academy of Crete purchased 170 acres of land in the Nopigia area on a hill overlooking the sea. The college provided a beautiful site for the development of the European Youth Centre with a view to developing activities and the island of Gavdos.
The EKN was founded in 1988 as an annex of the Orthodox Academy of Crete under the chairmanship of Eirinaio Galanakis. With the help of the young people from 43 European and Mediterranean countries construction work began and roads were opened, areas fenced off and a stone amphitheatre with seating for 1.000 was completed in 1992 to host artistic events.
The main objective of the European Mediterranean Youth Centre is to enable young people to participate in educational programmes in a sociable and creative environment and to foster harmony and respect amongst eachother.