Besides swimming, sports, excursions and night life, Ios has to offer a special touch to your holidays with its cultural activities and local festivals. Once a year, each one of the hundreds (365) of small churches scattered throughout the island hosts a festival on the name day of its saint, and its courtyard fills with life. Such celebrations are not the conventional religious ones. In the evening before the feast, lots of free wine and meat, cooked over the fire, are offered to everybody. All visitors are invited to join the islanders in the dancing and the general merrymaking, which doesn't stop until the morning.
The most significant folklore festivals celebrated during summer are: On the 24th of June the feast of St. John Prodromos at the monastery of Pyrgos, on the highest spot of the island. On the 29th of August, St. John's is celebrated in two parts of the island, in Kalamos and Psathi.
The daring ones who decide to visit Psathi (rough road) will be rewarded by the genuine island feast they will attend. The church of St. John, built at the entrance to the village, dates back to the 17th-18th century. Each year on this date, hundreds of pilgrims attend vespers, taste the meat soup served in wooden dishes ("skoutelia") and dance to island music all night through. In the morning, after Mass, a procession of the saint's icon takes place and the traditional bean soup is served to everybody.
Equally warm and hospitable is the feast in honor of the Birth of Virgin Marry in Aghia Theodoti and Paleokastro on the 8th of September, where pilgrims carry the saint's icon on foot from Chora. If you are not inclined to walk, don't worry. On these dates there are buses scheduled to transport you from Chora. Don't miss the opportunity, the experience of a genuine island feast is invaluable!
The most important cultural event of the island is the "Homeria ", in Homer's honour. Homer, the legendary poet who composed the epics the Iliad and the Odyssey has a special place in the hearts of the people of Ios. Ios was the home of Homer’s mother Clymene and also where Homer spent the last days of his life (see about Homer's tomb in Plakoto).
The Homeria started in 1991 and each year, they start in first days of June and last till the end of August, attract more and more people, locals and visitors, as well as official guests from all areas of social life.
Sports events with the participation of schools from all around the Cyclades, lectures about Homer, school theatre contest, art exhibitions and schoolchildren's painting contest, folk dances, concerts and other musical activities, folk art and creative workshops, museum, feasts with local specialities, presentations of essays by the local schools, give every visitor the opportunity to get acquainted with the traditions and the vivid life of the people of Ios.
A flame is carried from the port to his tomb in Plakoto at the northernmost end of the island. The Homeria is a festival that the islanders really look forward to year after year. They take immense pride in this festival and celebrate it with a lot of zest and enthusiasm.
The Homeria offers people a perfect opportunity to experience an enjoyable and culturally rich affair and a chance to connect with the locals so much so that you eventually feel like just another native islander.