Skýros has a particularly outrageous apokriátika (pre-Lenten) carnival, featuring its famous goat dance, performed by groups of masked revellers in the streets of Hóra. The leaders of each troupe are the yéri, menacing figures (usually men but sometimes sturdy women) dressed in goat-pelt capes, weighed down by huge garlands of sheep bells, their faces concealed by kid-skin masks, and brandishing shepherds’ crooks. Accompanying them are their “brides”, men in drag known as korélles (maidens), and frángi (maskers in assorted “Western” garb). When two such groups meet, the yéri compete to see who can ring their bells longest and loudest with arduous body movements, or even get into brawls using their crooks as cudgels.

These rites take place on each of the four weekends before Clean Monday, but the final one is more for the benefit of tourists, both Greek and foreign. The Skyrians are less exhausted and really let their (goat) hair down for each other during the preceding three weeks. Most local hotels open for the duration, and you have to book rooms well in advance.

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