The orange festival at Massari is an annual event on the island, it usually happens either the last Sunday in March or first Sunday in April.   Dates of many things here depend on religious festivals and lot of those move, either check in the local press, social forums or look out for the banners that appear on the main road and roundabouts between Massari and Malona.

One of the larger festivals on the island and happening outside the tourist season, it’s a traditional local festival. Free to enter, go with a group of friends and enjoy the atmosphere. Last weekend was a great turnout with locals and expats coming from all over the island to help celebrate the orange harvest.

old Greek couple selling oranges

As we approached the festival the Romani were along the roadside selling everything from plants to children’s toys, underwear and grilled corn. We came home with a round of Cretan cheese. A parking marshal was attempting to keep order as everyone abandoned cars in the fields and roads surrounding the festival, we left ours in the long grass under an olive tree.

selling plants at the orange festival in Mass
evil eye bracelets for sale at the massari orange festival

Stalls along the sides of the festival area had a selection of everything to do with oranges, some were for sale and some were free. Orange juice, orange preserves, orange liqueur and just plain oranges. Or you could get the annual festival t-shirt in orange or green.

orange liqueur at the orange festival
orange preserves at the orange festival

Chairs and tables were provided, with a selection of different food on offer. Some of the food was free, a tasty bean dish with crusty bread and a desert of orange cake with Greek yoghurt and a dollop of traditional orange preserve. There was also food for sale being made by the ladies of the village. Homemade dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) and freshly cooked pitaroudia (chick pea fritters). Of course no festival would be complete without the souvlaki grill, the smoke billowed out the back of the festival.

ladies cooking at the orange festival
tables full of people at the orange festival
grilling souvlaki at the orange festival

Balloon sellers are at every event on the island and everywhere you looked there was a child with a balloon, some inventive games were being played around the olive trees near where we sat. Bigger children also had fun with large oranges.

balloon seller at the orange festival
playing with an orange at the orange festival

This festival had a large stage set up for the dancers, for the whole afternoon different groups entertained us. There were children from the village, dancers from around the island and some that appeared to be from Crete judging by the costumes. For variety of dancers it was one of the best festivals we’ve seen on the island so far.

dancers at the orange festival
colourful ladies dancing at the orange festival
cretan dancers at the orange festival

The locals put a lot of effort into making the whole area look great for the festival, there were orange leaves, oranges and blossom stuck to everything. This year there was also an orange scarecrow and some Greek costume gourds.

orange scarecrow at the orange festival
Greek costume gourds at the orange festival

Everyone from the local community came out to enjoy the day. Saturday had been cloudy and rainy on the island but festival day was hot a sunny. Despite the chance of rain or chilly winds at this time of year so far every orange festival we’ve been to has been hot and sunny. We all went home a little pinker.

older Greeks enjoying the orange festival
Greek papas at the orange festival

No Greek celebration would be complete without a bar, at the souma festival in Sianna we had souma and at the orange festival we had orange juice, with and without vodka. I also took along some homemade orange cello to share with our friends.

We left in the late afternoon, though I’m sure the music and fun went on. Set among the orange groves of Massari it’s a great day out. If you want to park close to the festival arrive before midday, and bring a hat as there’s stiff competition for the tables in the shade.

bar at the orange festival
orange juice at the orange festival
people having fun at the orange festival
orange cello at the orange festival

Have you been to the orange festival? Are there any other festivals you’d like to read about? If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please comment and share. Thank you