The Patra Carnival is a quintessential expression of the Greek carnival experience, and as such, it requires appropriate planning to fully enjoy it. Revelry is synonymous with Apokries (Greek Carnival season), where all manners of behavior are excused and almost every indulgence is allowed. From Xanthi and Naousa to Patra or Plaka in Athens, the carnival festivities include Vlach weddings, masquerades, dances, and parties, encouraging everyone to dress up and let loose for a while, leaving all problems aside.


Pagan, Dionysian, and riotous, the weeks of Apokries are closely tied to a plethora of local customs across Greece. These customs express themselves through panegyrics, masked parades, dances, and even lascivious, satirical verses, reminding everyone that flirting and romance are also part of the revelry. Regardless of what you choose, the Patra Carnival is a quintessential expression of the Greek carnival experience.

This year’s impressive program began on January 17th, with daily events held in various locations throughout Patra. All the events culminate in the grand parade on the big Sunday (February 26th).

After visiting the Patra Carnival three or four times, the conclusion is clear: you will have an exceptional time if you plan appropriately before arriving. The reason for this is that the gathering of both revelers and crowds can create such chaos that without prior preparation, you may get lost in the frenzy.

First of all, the program of this year’s Patras Carnival has already been published and it is truly impressive. You can find it posted on It began on Tuesday, January 17th and includes daily events, which take place in various parts of the capital of Achaia. Of course, the grand and famous parade culminates on Sunday, February 26th (at 14:00). At 21:00, the carnival burning is scheduled to follow, followed by the closing ceremony, with a concert by the 1550 band on the pier of Agios Nikolaos.

These events, which last essentially for a whole month, include 5 major concerts, one of them by Goran Bregović, on Friday, February 24th, at Georgiou A’ square (at 21:30). There are also 4 dance performances, 9 additional music programs, 14 shadow theater performances, 10 events in the city, consecutive parties and treasure hunts, exhibitions, choreographies, carnival games for children, puppet shows, face painting, pantomimes of the circus, theatrical workshops, satirical performances, parties with DJs, chocolate wars and battles.

So, if you are a carnival enthusiast, this month belongs to you. Of course, most people are sure to go to Patras during the last weekend, when the Carnival peaks.

Guide to Organizing yourself correctly

Your first concern should be to book a hotel, as demand for the days of the Carnival proves to be huge. You have two choices: the first is a room in the center, where the entire carnival game is played. However, this option is difficult and more expensive, because you have everything at your feet, without the need to park and unpark. Parking also becomes very difficult on these days. The second option is to go outside Patras, in nearby mountains or seaside locations. Here, prices are cheaper, the environment is quieter, and you can combine your stay with some vacations if you wish.

In Patras, you will now find everything regarding carnival accessories, but if you plan to dress up in something more specific, make sure you have taken everything you deem necessary. After all, don’t forget: you may move to the rhythm of everyday life all year long, but during the Carnival, hidden behind a pagan mask, you have the opportunity to express yourself as you wish.

The Patra Carnival, like all carnivals, is a street celebration often accompanied by the classic drink of the youth, a bottle of mavrodafni. Beyond that, you will also have a wonderful and joyful time going in and out of shops, whether you choose to go out for food, drinks, or cocktails. Above all, Carnival means costumes and disguises, liveliness and Dionysian atmosphere, teasing and secret flirting, satire, carefree fun, walks and revelry.

You should explore, but be aware that the main game takes place on the streets of central Patra, mainly on Riga Feraiou, Gerokostopoulou, and Heroon Polytechniou, as well as in the narrow alleys of the coastal area. However, you must organize yourself and learn which bars are organizing parties, as the revelry lasts 24 hours. Also, look for the after-parties, concerts, and of course, the midday parties with DJs, souvlaki, and tsipouro. Most of them are impromptu and spread by word of mouth, so you will have to wander around the city with your ears open.

Let the dancing begin! One more thing you must ensure is securing an invitation to either the White or the Red Dance. These events, when properly organized, prove to be wonderful. In the past, there were also the Bourboulia and the Dance of the Committee, usually held at the facilities of Achaia Klaus. In recent years, the latter has stopped, while the Bourboulia are no longer as prominent as they once were.

The Bourboulia is a truly unique event, closely associated with the Patras Carnival, and its equivalent cannot be found elsewhere in Greece. It is considered one of the oldest Carnival events in the city, with its exact start date calculated shortly after the completion of the construction of the “Apollon” Municipal Theater by Ernesto Chiller – around 1872. For this reason, it was held there in the past, as I can personally certify, having experienced it in that particular building.

As for the Bourboulia, it describes dances in which women maintain their anonymity under a black domino and a black mask, while men wear formal attire. Women choose their partners, constantly hiding behind their masks. In earlier years, this anonymity had revealed (or hidden) many “indiscretions” among participants. Beyond that, there are always the little secrets of the Carnival, which remain for the few and the knowledgeable.

This year, the White Dance will be held on Thursday, February 23, at “Harama“. Expect amazing attire – of course, only in white – as well as imaginative decorations, fantastic events, enthusiasm, and dancing until morning. Remember, however, that it is by invitation only. The Red Dance will take place on Friday, February 24, at the “Royal Theater Restaurant Cafe“. It is the emblematic dance of the Patras Carnival, where everyone, of course, comes in red, for a tremendous party full of food, drink, surprises, and a perfect Carnival atmosphere. Here, too, entry is only secured by invitation.

Beyond that, on Saturday, February 25, the crew party is scheduled at “Astir Hotel Patra” – and this is by invitation only – while on Monday, February 27, the Carnival participants hold a talent party at “Harama“, with pantomimes, songs, dances, and many events. The best talent is highlighted in an atmosphere of great fun and enthusiasm. And here, too, you need to find an invitation, of course. As we mentioned earlier, besides the endless revelry, the proper Carnival-goer should also find a group that appeals aesthetically to them, to parade with them. It is an experience, and I tell you from personal experience.

Suggestions for food

With all the walking required to fully experience the carnival in Patras, taking a bite to eat is essential. If you love pizza, it is recommended that you head to “Mama Pizza” (30A Gerokostopoulou, tel. 2610 242827). If you prefer a hearty souvlaki, you’ll find it at “Cheiropoieto Souvlakopoleio” (139 Riga Feraiou), while if you’re a fan of sandwiches, you’ll want to go to “Riga” (17 Agiou Andrea).

However, if you need a level up from street food, then you should also add some of the great restaurants that the Achaean capital has to offer to your itinerary. After all, in the afternoon, after the endless walks you’ll have taken, who wouldn’t dream of a skordalia accompanied by cod or a goat stew with oven-roasted potatoes, browned and fluffy. So here are some suggestions for good and proper food.

Located at 78 Iroon Polytechniou street and run by the Loi family with 20 years of experience, “Argo” is a restaurant that specializes in seafood dishes. Here, you can enjoy the beauty of the coastal landscape, pure and fresh ingredients, and a cozy atmosphere. The lobster and shrimp pasta dishes, taramasalata, octopus, and fresh fried potatoes are all highlights of the menu. Other offerings include marinated anchovies, calamari, filleted sardines, and mussels.

If you get tired of seafood, Patra has plenty of other gastronomical delights to offer. For example, the restaurant “Fagium” at 7 Vasileiou Roufou street, is a cozy, romantic restaurant and bar with antique chairs, a grandmother’s cupboard, Venetian masks, painted lampshades, and a plush bar. “Salumeria“, located at 27 Pantanassis street, is a Mediterranean restaurant and aperitivo bar in the heart of Patra. They offer bold flavors, fashionable dishes, and Mediterranean cuisine, such as beet salad with caramelized pecans, dry-aged beef steak, and octopus carpaccio with lemon oil.

For a more traditional Greek dining experience, visit the “Labyrinth” at 44 Poukevil street, also known as “Antypa’s Taverna” among the locals. This restaurant has been serving traditional Greek dishes since 1935, including stuffed cabbage rolls, goat with ladolemono sauce, and cheese pies with anthotyro cheese. “La Lila“, located at 155 Riga Feraiou street, is a café bistro that serves hearty and healthy brunches, trendy coffee, and fashionable dishes from morning to night.

Bars and Bar-Restaurants

Terminale (Pezodromo Pantanassis)

Located in the most central point of the Pantanassis pedestrian street, designed to resemble a New York subway station. Serves coffee in the morning and drinks until late at night. Features various well-known DJs, while every Sunday has Greek rock music.

Bocas (Riga Feraiou 39)

An updated wine cellar, emphasis on beer and wine.

Lotos (Sissini 2)

With a large drink list, well-made cocktails, and many carnival events.

Notos (Patreos 80)

The jazz bar of Patras: an atmospheric bar that also hosts live music nights.

Patras Carnival forever. Photo: KEDEP Patras Carnival

Trelli Rodia (Karaiskaki 156)

Like a Parisian bistro of its time, always lively, warm, and friendly.

Sofita (Ermou 17)

Modern, narrow, stylish, industrial, nicely lit. A classic neo-youth bar, made of stone and iron.

Tessera (Patreos 69A)

A classic bistro, with very nice cocktails. A charming, atmospheric space, with vintage decor, modern Mediterranean comfort food, and a good wine list.

Read also:

The Genitsaroi and Boulas: Carnival in Naousa Northern Greece

Naoussa: One of the most interesting travel destinations in the attractive central Macedonia

Imathia: Magical nature, great food, cultural heritage