The biggest celebration in Nisyros is on 14-15 August at the monastery of Panagia Spiliani, in Mandraki, with people arriving from all over the Dodecanese. The novena of Virgin Mary which runs from 6-15 August, is a very old custom. The monastery hosts women of Nisyros and the other islands, single or married, who ask for Virgin Mary’s help. During these days, everyone is committed to making 300 prostrations daily, kneeling in front of the icon of Virgin Mary, singing the dirge of Virgin Mary and impromptu prayers. The whole island fasts and gets prepared. On the day of the celebration after the liturgy and the sanctification of the boiled wheat (‘kolluvo’), a procession is formed coming down the stairs. It wanders through Mandraki and ends at the Zisimopoulio theatre above the central square, where meal is handed out to everyone present. At night the dance that they call “the cup of Virgin Mary” begins: the first lady of the dance holds a cup while dancing and whoever enters the dance pours money for Virgin Mary and the island.
On 20 and 21 June it is the celebration in honor of Agios Nikitas who is the patron saint of the island and the procession of the icon in Mandraki.
On 30 June at Pali village a festival is held in honor of the Holy Apostles.
On 26-27 July in Avlaki position Agios Panteleimon is celebrated.
On 22-23 August a festival is held at the monastery Panagia Kyra (Virgin Mary, our Lady) for the novena of the Dormition of Virgin Mary. In the yard of the monastery huge tables are set.
On September 8, in Emporios the Nativity of Virgin Mary is celebrated.
On 13-14 September at Timios Stavros Monastery, near the village of Nikia a festival takes place.
On 25-26 September a festival is organized for the celebration of Agios Ioannis the Theologian at the monastery in Nikia.
On 7-8 November in Emporios a festival takes place in honor of Archangel Michael.
On 21 November a festival is organized for the Presentation of Virgin Mary, in Nikia.
On the celebrations and the festivals of Nisyros the residents wear their traditional costumes (breeches for the men, embroidered shirts for the women). The locals love dancing and singing. The celebrations and the festivals are very important cultural elements and for this reason they are conducted in public buildings such as the Zosimopoulio theatre, in the hall and the courtyard of which the feasts of traditional weddings and the large, in turnout, festival of Panagia Spiliani take place.
The traditional musical instruments of Nisyros are the violin, the santur and the lute.
On Lazarus Saturday the school children wander the “kalantira.” This is a custom which is preserved ever since the antiquity (‘irisioni’ for the Athenians, ‘chelidonisma’ for the residents of Rhodes) and performed in variations in many parts of Greece. The aim was and still is to raise money. The children were wandering from door to door and the housewives put eggs in the basket (for the teachers) and simits (for the children), while they placed money on the tray for the treasury of the monastery of Panagia Spiliani which covered the expenses of the school.