Easter in Arcadia – The Night of the Balloons

If you happen to be in Leonidio for Easter, you will witness a truly amazing spectacle, which takes place on the night of the Resurrection. Hundreds of hot-air balloons, made of straw and paper, are set free into the sky when the congregation say “Christ is risen”, filling the night with lights and colours. The origins of this custom, which is not followed anywhere else in Greece, are unknown. Some argue that it is an Asian tradition, which seamen brought back home to Leonidio at the end of the 19th century.

The residents of Leonidio have one more reason to prepare for Easter a little earlier than usual. Every year, on the night of the Resurrection, they revive the tradition of the hot-air balloons, which are set free into the sky when the priest says “the Christ is risen”.

The balloons are made of straw and paper, and they include a special mechanism that allows them to be lifted into the sky. There is an opening on their lower part, inside of which they secure a piece of cloth dipped in oil and petroleum -the so-called “kolymmara”- which, once set on fire, heats the balloon and makes it take off. The balloons’ paper is light, and people use various colours of glue, in order to give the balloons a happy and vibrant effect. The balloons can be as large as two metres and they fly as high as 1,000 metres! When the fire goes out, they cool off and fall back down to earth.

So, few weeks before Easter, each family makes its own balloon, a ritual that every family member is involved in. There is also friendly competition over who will create the most impressive balloon. All five parishes of Leonidio participate in the custom, each one creating up to 100 balloons for that night! The sky is literally filled with these colourful and bright structures, creating a festive ambiance, which is of course accompanied with the fireworks and firecrackers. A few of the hot-air balloons are also freed in the sky in the afternoon, during the Liturgy of Love, from the main square in Leonidio.

The Night of the Balloons is a unique tradition, the origins of which are somewhat lost in the mists of time. This custom doesn’t exist anywhere else in Greece, which means that it’s well worth spending your Easter in Leonidio in order to experience this amazing view from up close.

Source: www.mythicalpeloponnese.gr

Posts for Arcadia

Mt. Parnonas

  • Aug 31,2016

Parnonas also known as “Malevos” is the mountain range which divides two large counties of Peloponnese, Arcadia and Laconia. The highest peak of Parnonas is called “Megali Tourla” also known as “Kronio” and has 1936 meters altitude. The mountain ends in Laconia at the Cape Maleas, south of Peloponnese. The natural beauty of the mountain and the traditional villages attract many travelers... read more


  • Jan 21,2016

Peloponnese’s longest river (111km long) has its source in Arcadia and its mouth in the Prefecture of Elis. According to mythology, Apheus was one of the river-gods of antiquity, worshiped mainly in the regions of Arcadia, Elis and Messinia. Son of Oceanus and Tethys, he killed his brother Cercaphus and haunted by the Erinyes, he leapt into the river which was later named after him. Source: www.mythicalpeloponnese.gr [vc_row][vc_column][ivi_nbcaj... read more

The Gorge of Lepida

  • Jan 20,2016

The gorge of Lepida is one of the numerous, impressive natural formations of Mount Parnon, which stands between the prefectures of Arcadia and Laconia. Its length is 500 metres and it is relatively flat. Two hours are required to cross it, during which visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique natural beauty of the landscape, which is filled with rich flora and fauna and boasts two gorgeous... read more

Mountain biking

  • Jan 20,2016

A great way to discover a new place is actually on two wheels. Arcadia, with its stunning nature, does offer visitors this unique opportunity. The changes in the landscape, the lush vegetation, the dense forests and the hidden traditional settlements are only few of the natural attractions a visitor can enjoy with just a bike and the desire for exploration. Around the city of Tripolis, as well as in the Arcadian... read more

The Ski Center in Mainalo

  • Jan 20,2016

The Mainalo ski center is situated in the location Ostrakina of the homonymous mountain, approximately 30 kilometres from Tripolis and 162 kilometres from Athens. The roads and consequently the access to the ski centre are easy, making it a very popular destination. It isn’t one of the biggest ski centres; however, it is ideal for families with children, since the mountain is not steep and is perfect... read more

The Monastery of Eloni and the Gorge of Leonidio

  • Jan 20,2016

The Monastery of Eloni is a pretty old convent in the prefecture of Arcadia, built in the steep slope of Mount Parnon, at an altitude of 650 metres and about 17 kilometres from the town of Leonidio. Due to its exceptional natural beauty, the area around the monastery has been declared as a protected zone and it’s included in the European Network Natura 2000 under the code GR2520005. It has a long... read more

Page: 1

Comments are closed.