Big fire at Great Prespa Lake

Annual custom with large bonfires in lake of Great Prespa. A lake between three countries among surreal scenery. A way to celebrate the year to come.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

The New Year is about to come and I am on the way to Florina. 

Somewhere in between there is a sign that shows the way to Prespa lakes. These lakes are well known in Greece so I thought this might be a good chance to visit the place, since I am so near.

In about half an hour I reached the village of Psarades (Fishermen in Greek), which is the only village on the shore of Great Prespa lake. The other villages around the lake are in FYROM or Albania. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw some children carrying tree branches and slowly building a huge wooden tower. I went near and asked what was that they were doing and they told me that they have been preparing the tower to light a bonfire. It is a custom that happens every year. I hadn't heard about this custom before, so that was like a gift to me. I was planning to only stay for a couple of nights, but I ended up staying for four nights to wait for the New Year to come and see the bonfire.

There are enough places to stay or have something nice to eat. The days passed with boat trips in the lake, where you can even see some caves, walks around the village, visits to the Small Prespa and Saint Achilles island, as well as to the town of Kastoria.

I spent the night in good company and delicious food at the place's taverns. There was nothing else to be done as far as the custom goes, since the tower was ready and I only had to wait for the day that this would happen. I didn't mind at all however since I had a few days of calmness and good food. 

This custom may not happen every year. Rain may spoil it, since the fire will not work. This tower was built the year before since they didn't light the fire then. They would even light the fire on January 30 instead, because there was forecast for showers on the 31st. 

Several visitors came over at night. The children lit the fire and the temperature around the tower is very high. Everyone moves away, nearer to the food and the wine, brought by locals to treat the guests.

No matter me being away from home and relatives, this was definitely a New Year's Eve to remember. 

#macedonia #christmas #new year #prespa #albania #winter #bonfire #fire #borders #lake #fyrom


Big fire at Great Prespa Lake

Unnamed Road Psarades
Prespes, Western Macedonia, Greece