Leros is known for its many annual festivals, and it is a pleasure for visitors to be on Leros to both see them and take part in them. Dancing, eating and drinking are usually a part of any religious celebration. The main festivals on Leros are:
Agia Marina: The festival of Agia Marina is held on July 17 with singing and dancing around the harbour.
Alonari: This takes place at Gourna beach at the end of July. It's a harvest festival with dancing on a reconstructed threshing floor with a party afterwards that includes free wine for all.
Virgin Mary: This is held at the castle above Platanos on August 15. Many locals climb the steps to the castle to light candles. There is a funeral procession in the evening and celebrations afterwards.
Trata: This is held at Panteli in early September to celebrate island fishing. Nets are hauled in from the beach in the evening and the catch grilled and, along with wine, handed out free to visitors to dancing and music.
Lakki's deepwater port made Leros a strategic target in World War Two, and the island suffered repeated bombing by both British and German forces in World War Two. Indeed it is thought that only Crete was hit by more bombing raids. Empty shells and other war ephemera can still be found on the island.
Leros had been under Italian occupation and turned into a heavily fortified military base. After the fall of Greece in April 1941 and the Allied loss of Crete in May, Greece and its islands were occupied by German and Italian forces.
With the surrender of Italy in September 1943, Leros was occupied by the British. The Battle of Leros began in October with German air attacks followed by troop landings in November and its capture four days later. It was considered by some to be the last significant defeat of the British Army in World War Two and one of the final German victories.
Reminders of the war lie all over Leros, particularly in the hills between Platanos and Gourna. At Vigla is the former 306th battery, an impressive fortified position with entrance tunnels, and at Rahi, the 211th battery is still visible.
At Marcello in the northwest, is the Farinata battery and a well-preserved lookout post. At Partheni there are many buildings now occupied by the Greek army but at nearby Plefouti is the remains of 888th battery and opposite the islet of Strogili is a sunken German landing craft.
The British War Cemetery is near Agia Marina has 183 graves, though the identities of many were lost during the German occupation.