Easter in Corfu.

Easter in Corfu, a canvas full of colors and sentiments

Easter in Corfu is a lot more than just a religious celebration and far more than a social event. 
Easter in Corfu is a lasting emotion, a lasting social manifestation and a lasting throwback.


The canvas is composed by nature itself and is animated by the religious ceremonies.

In Corfu, the Orthodox Church was influenced by Catholicism as a result of the Venetian rule which lasted 411 years.  Thus, the style of all ceremonies is lighter than the Byzantine.  Actually, most of them are accompanied by the philharmonic bands of the island playing European composers’ music.

Philarmonic bands of Corfu: a phenomenon!

The Philharmonic bands of the town and of the whole island are a precious cultural asset, Corfu’s live trademark known all over the world.  Indeed, the fact that there are more than 15 philharmonic bands on a single island is  a unique worldwide phenomenon.

This phenomenon becomes even more impressive given that the young people of Corfu are taught music for free!  Some of them excel in the arts sector in Greece, Europe and the world.  Some of those distinguished musicians return to Corfu every Easter to march in the streets of the town as part of their favorite philharmonic band.


Even though the Philharmonic bands are another remarkable story, they also play a very important role in making Corfu Easter so special.

One can feel a particular atmosphere from Palm Sunday, before the beginning of the Holy Week.  On this day, the philharmonic bands accompany Saint Spyridon’s Holy shrine in a procession which passes through the whole old town in remembrance of the miracle of the island’s patron saint who saved Corfu from an epidemic of plague.


The Old Town and the epitaph

The Holy Week starts with fast for the faithful while a smell of incense burning in the dozens of churches and of the Εastersweet yeast breads being baked at the bakeries pervade the streets.

From Holy Monday, the arrivals on the island increase notably.  The traffic at the airport and the port grows significantly and the streets of the town are crowded with expat Corfiots, Greek and foreign visitors.

The house windows open to lay the “damaska”, damask-colouredpieces of clothing honor of the ceremonies.

The sun reaches every tiny corner and the flowers adorn the fields and the beautiful city gardens.

The coffee shops spread out their tables, the restaurants are preparing delicious appetizers and the cellars are filled with ouzo and Greek wines to toast with friends and family around the table.

A unique pre-Easter atmosphere spreads all around the island.

However, it is the Old Town, in particular, which becomes a frame in which religious feeling, worldliness and beauty come together.

The Liston arcade, which is the landmark of the town, and its lanterns are illuminated in purple as a sign of mourning for Christ’s passions while the churches get prepared for the Descent from the Cross on Good Friday.

In the morning of this most important day, the body of Christ is removed from the cross and placed on the epitaph during a figurative ritual in the churches.

The epitaph is decorated with numerous colorful flowers by the women of the neighborhood and hundreds of people bow before it until the time of its litany through the streets of the town.

Each church has its own epitaph, each epitaph its own litany at a specific time going through the same streets year after year.

The first epitaph processions are those of the church of Spileotissa at the New Fortress and of Pantokratoras at Kampiello while the Cross is on the top of the Old Fortress is illuminated in purple.

The mourning marches played by the philharmonic bands sound all around the town.  Boy scouts, school pupils, Red Cross members and choruses lead the epitaph which is borne aloft by Greek Navy sailors. The faithful stand on both sides of the procession with reverence or follow the epitaph.

This creates a unique “traffic jam” in the town, and experience the best stage director could never produce.

This flow is spontaneously created and repeated over the years gaining a growing number of fans.

The experience peaks in the night after 10p.m.when all the participants, except for small children, gather in the Cathedral for the most impressive epitaph litany of Good Friday.  This litany is attended by a large number of people who are deeply moved by Albinioni’s Adagio, played by the oldest Philharmonic band of the town.


“Botides”, the famous event of Easter in Corfu

At nine o’clock next morning, another magnificent experience awaits the people:  the litany of the epitaph of Saint Spyridon church, in commemoration of another miracle, takes place on Holy Saturday instead of Good Friday.  The philharmonic bands play thrilling music pieces, such as AmlettoofFaccio, CaldeLacrime of De Michelis and the Heroic Symphony of Beethoven.

Overwhelmed with emotions of devotedness, everybody looks for a seat at the cafes.  They all know that this emotion will change in s short while.

At 11 o’clock the bells ring joyfully.  This represents the Golgotha earthquake.

Locals get to the windows and balconies to throw the clay pots, called “Botides”.

This traditional event is particularly spectacular at the Spianada square as huge pots full of water are dropped from high balconies smashing into pieces on the ground as a symbol of warding off evil spirits.

Hundreds of people gather to watch this spectacular event either with excitement or perhaps with some fear…

Once the “botides” are thrown, smiles return on the faces of the mourning people and the bands march around the town playing cheerfully.  The smell of the traditional “magiritsa”, a soup made of lamb offal, comes from all the kitchens.  This soup is ideal to break the fast and prepare the stomach for the lamb on the spit on Easter Sunday.  Magiritsa is consumed right after the midnight Resurrection service.

By 10p.m. thousands of people flock to the large  Upper Spianada Square in the centre of the Old Town.

At 11.30 p.m., they all gather around the pavilion in the centre of the Spianada square where the Holy Light arrives.  Thousands of lit candles create a unique scenery.  As soon as the Bishop sings “Christos Anesti” (Christ is Risen), hundreds of fireworks are launched from the Old Fortress into the sky above.  The night sky becomes filled with glorious colors and lights, Christ is Risen.  The Christians hug and kiss each other and exchange greetings.

Everybody is happy!

Magiritsa soup and local wine are served on the tables of the houses and the restaurants.  This is the most sociable, festive night of the year in Corfu.

The bars and nightclubs are open until dawn when the faithful attend the processions of the Resurrection icons across the town.  This is the time to light the roasting spits.


Joy everywhere!

Easter Sunday is a day to enjoy in the country.  Wherever there is a yard, a lamb is roasted on a spit. Dances and parties get lively all over the island.  People greet each other tapping Easter eggs and clinking glasses.  The red eggs have been dyed on Holy Thursday and now it’s time to eat them after the little battles with the winner being the unbroken egg.


Easter in Corfu is more than a feast.  It is a togetherness of people who collaborate in harmony to create the absolute scenery!  It is the union of nature’s aromas and colors to give a hint of the feeling! It is the union of each person’s expectations who, regardless of his religious beliefs, hopes for his own resurrection.

Easter in Corfu is all you would never imagine experiencing within a few days in a Mediterranean city.

Αfter all, Easter in Corfu is the one and only!

Easter in Corfu at La Maison Boutique Hotel

A perfect spot for you to enjoy Easter in Corfu without being hustled in the crowds but at a very close distance to everything is La Maison Boutique Hotel in Ipsos.  Just 10 km from the town, in the beautiful Corfiot countryside and the blossoming nature, La Maison offers privacy, discreet luxury, and aesthetics.


Information about Booking a room at only adults, Boutique Hotel La Maison:

T: +302661097592  E: [email protected]


Images by George Katehis




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