Compiled List of Festivals and Sacrifices in Athens

Note that the sources listed sometimes give conflicting dates, I used my own judgement in assessing conflicting sources.

Please be aware that the Athenian calendar just happens to be the only Hellenic one with enough details to reconstruct in detail. Each city had its own calendar (similarly constructed) with their own month names and festivals. Even within Attica, smaller towns had their own festival cycles which were not apparently linked to the Athenian cycle. For instance, we have a list of many sacrifices from the Attic deme of Erchia which are included below. There is one example though of specific worship at Marathon on the eve of the Athenian festival of Skira. (Given that Hellenic days begin at sunset, I have no clue yet if this use of the word "eve" refers to the sunset start of the day of the festival itself, or the day before.)

For Hellenic Reconstructionists, consider this calendar as a suggested template. In the true autonomous spirit of the ancient practices, do feel free to establish you own unique local cycle of festivals and sacrifices, Even when Athenians left Athens to found new colonies, the colonists did not recreate the Athenian festivals -- they began new ones appropriate to their new community and reflected that community's unique relationship with the deities. Some festivals were held in several different places, but not on or even necessarily near the same date or month.

Also note that the calculated calendar on this website is based on the actual phase of the moon, with each month beginning on the day the new crescent moon should be visible. Historically, this is when each month theoretically began. The Archon was responsible for inserting a 13th month occasionally, and for adding or subtracting days from the months. Allegedly, this system was meant to keep the calendar somewhat in synch with the moon. In practice, the Archons made adjustments for other pragmatic and political purposes in a very haphazard manner, and it would have been quite rare for the historical calendar to actually be in synch with the moon. Hence the Athenians distinguished between "Noumenia" the first day of the calendar month, and "Noumenia kata Selene" the first day of the actual crescent moon.

It is important to note that there is an apparent fallacy about Athenian calendar that is frequently repeated in many sources: that it is based on alternating full and hollow months of 30 and 29 days. I believe this error traces back to one sloppy footnote and it has been perpetuated ever since.

In B.D. Merrit's The Athenian Year, 1961, he gave a footnote: "Geminus, VIII, 52... One shall note here the implication that the Athenians of the fifth century, in their festival calendar, were quite accustomed to ordering their months by the simple process of alternation." Geminus was an astronomer writing in 70 BCE. The passage referenced above does not mention Athens or the Athenian calendar, but he does refer to Meton, an Athenian astronomer c. 432, and his Metonic cycle of alternating months developed as a means of correlating the lunar and solar years. Every source I have read confirms that Athens did not adopt the Metonic cycle. Meton even came in for a fair amount of ridicule in Aristophane's The Clouds.

Athens tracked 3 different calendars, the Prytany Calendar which divided the year into ten parts during which each tribe rotated chairing the Assembly, the Festival Calendar by which actual dates for sacrifices, etc. were scheduled and was very loosely related to the actual phases of the moon, and the actual lunar cycle known as Kata Selenes, or Kata Theon (according to Selene, or to the Gods). Kata Selenes produces a very irregular pattern of 29 and 30 day months. Any attempt to follow a regular pattern of 29 and 30 days will quickly fall out of synch with the moon. I have not found any historical reference directly linking the Metonic cylce to the Athenian calendar.


Recurring monthly in Athens:

  1. Noumenia
  2. Agathos Daimon
  3. Athene
  4. Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes & Eros
  5. none
  6. Artemis
  7. Apollon
  8. Poseidon & Theseus

Big Events:

Olympic Games
2nd full moon after the Summer Solstice, 5 days, in honor of Zeus Olumpia, 1st year of the Olympiad
Pythian Games
Metageitnion? in honor of Apollon Puthios, 3rd year of the Olympiad
Isthmian Games
Springtime?, in honor of Poseidon, 2nd and 4th years
Nemean Games
Springtime?, in honor of Zeus Nemea, 2nd and 4th years

Athenian Festivals:

Unknown Dates:

? Hephaisteia
Festival in honor of Hephastus
? Prometheia
Festival in honor of Prometheus
? ?
Festival in honor of Pan

(the above three included torch races)
? ?
Triple sacrifice of three different species to the Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeuces
? Epikleidia
Feast in honor of Demeter
? Galaxia
Feast in honor of the Mother of the Gods
? Theoinia
(womens' festival at Eleusis? Aeschylus refers to Dionysus as Father Theoinos (God of wine))
? Iobachoi
(hosted by same group responsible for Theoinia)


12KroniaFestival in honor of Kronos
16, 15-16SunoikiaFestival in honor of community of Attica and Athene
Every two years, the two-day celebration is held. Not sure which years.
(21?-)23-30PanathanaiaFestival main celebration on the 28 in honor of Athene
The greater held in the third year of each Olympiad
The lesser held annually for fewer days


?HerakleiaIn honor of Herakles at Kunosarges gymnaisium outside Athens
15-18Eleusinia games(4 days between 13-20, probably 15-18) held on 4th year of every Olympiad, and on a lesser scale on the 2nd year.
16Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hecate & Artemis at Erchia
19Sacrifice to The Heroines at Attic deme of Erchia
20Sacrifice to Hera Thelchina at Erchia
25Sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes at Erchia


2Niketeriafestival in honor of Nike
{3Plataiathis date is listed in Zaidman & Pantel, but no confirmation in Burkert, its also a place in Boeotia that hosts the Great Daedala festival every 60 years}
4In honor of Basile in Erchia
5Genesiospublic festival for the dead in honor of Ge
5Sacrifice to Epops at Erchia
6Festival in honor of Artemis Agrotera
12Democratiafestival in honor of Democracy
15?17, 19-21Eleusinian Greater Mysteriesin honor of Demeter
17 or 18Epidauriain honor of Asclepius
27Sacrifice to the Nymphs, Achelous, Alochus, Hermes & Gaia at Erchia
27Sacrifice to Athene at Atic deme of Teithras


VariableApatouriapaternity festival; each phratry set their own dates within the month
1st day:Dorpia(the eve of a festival) phratry members feast together
2nd day:Anarrhusis(2nd day of a fest), sacrifice to Zeus Phratrios & Athene Phratria
3rd day:Koureotisyoung boys admitted to their father's phratry
6?Proerosiafestival preliminary to the plowing in honor of Demeter
7Puanopsiafestival in honor of Apollon
8Theseiafestival in honor of Theseus
8?Oskhophoriafestival of the vintage
9Steniawomen's festival in honor of Demeter and Persephone
11?13Thesmophoriafestival in honor of Demeter
14Sacrifice to The Heroines at Erchia
30Khalkeiafestival in honor of Athena and Hephaestus. The loom is set up for weaving the Panathenaian peplos


?Pompaiafestival in honor of Zeus and Hermes


?Rustic or Lesser Dionusiain honor of Dionusos
5Plerosiafestival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
16Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erchia
26Haloafertility festival in honor of Dionusos and Demeter

Poseideon II

(not sure if major festivals done in first or second Poseideon when the extra month is inserted.)


(a fashionable month for weddings)
8Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes, & the Nymphs at Erchia
9Sacrifice to Athene at Erchia
12?15Lenaiafestival in honor of Dionusos in the Attic deme of Limnai
27Theogamiacelebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera
27Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius & Poseidon at Erchia


2Sacrifice to Dionusos at Erchia
11?13Anthesteriain honor of Dionusos
1st dayPithoigia,opening of vats
2nd dayKhoes,drinking, celebration of marriage of Dionusos represented by the Arkhon Basileus and his wife the Basilinna
3rd dayKhutroiday of cooking pots, mixed vegetables offered to Hermes Psukhopompos; spirits of the dead roam free
20?26?Lesser Mysteriesin preparation for the Eleusinian Mysteries, at deme of Agrae in Athens
23Diasiafestival in honor of Zeus Meilichios


8Asklepiain honor of Asklepios
10?17 (?14?)Greater Dionusiain honor of Dionusos; The City or the Great Dionusia
17Pandiafestival in honor of Zeus


6Delphiniain honor of Apollo
16Mounukhiafestival in honor of Artemis
19Olumpeiafestival in honor of Olumpian Zeus
20Sacrifice to Leucaspis at Erchia
21Sacrifice to Tritopatores at Erchia


4Sacrifice to Leto, Pythian Apollon, Zeus, Hermes & Dioskuri at Erchia
6?7Thargeliafestival in honor of Apollon
1st dayPurification, driving out of the pharmakoi (scapegoats)
2nd dayOffering of the thargelos, mixed vegetables
16Sacrifice to Zeus Epakrios at Erchia
19Bendideiafestival in honor of Bendis
19Sacrifice to Menedeius at Erchia
25?Kallunteriaspring cleaning of the Temple of Athene (sometime between 20-25)
25Plunteriafestival of washing (a dangerous day because Athene is preoccupied)


3Arrephoriafestival in honor of Athene; or, Arretophoria
3Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Athene Polias, Aglaurus, Zeus Polieus, Poseidon & possibly Pandrosos at Erchia
12Skirafestival in honor of Athene, Poseidon, Apollon & Demeter; the Tritopatores were worshipped at Marathon on the eve of this festival
14Bouphoniafestival in honor of Zeus Poleius; also, Dipolieia


Ancient Athenian Calendars On Stone; W. Kendrick Pritchett; U.Cal. Press, 1963.

Chronology of the Ancient World, 2nd Edition; E.J. Bickerman; Cornell University Press, 1982.

Festivals of the Athenians; H.W. Parke; Cornell University Press, 1994.

Greek Religion; Walter Burkert; Harvard University Press, 1985.

Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece; Lesley Adkins & Roy A. Adkins; Oxford University Press, 1997.

Religion in the Ancient Greek City; Louise Bruit Zaidman & Pauline Schmitt Pantel; Cambridge University Press, 1992.