People always talk about the Venetian and Brazilian carnivals, but have you ever heard of the Cyprus carnival? Did you know that the island is the home of the craziest and funniest carnival out there? If not, then let us tell you about the Limassol Carnival, and we guarantee that you will want to see it after reading this article!
So what is this Limassol Carnival? Well, it is a 10-day experience that everyone should attend at least once in their lives. Even though it is called Limassol Carnival, the festivities roll over the whole island. People in Cyprus hold the Carnival every year just before Christian Lent starts, which means that Green Monday serves as a segue from colourful festivities of the Carnival to the calm 40-day period until Easter.
While the Carnival lasts for 10 days, various events, such as exhibition openings, often precede it. You can usually see the traditional carnival masks or check out the photos from previous carnivals.
The carnival itself always begins on a Thursday with festivities starting as early as 11 a.m. This day is known as ‘Smelly Thursday’, or Tsiknopempti, because, as it is the last week for eating meat before Lent, the streets are filled with aromas of cooked meat. In the evening, the King and Queen of the carnival enter the city and set off the parade across town. This means that the Carnival has officially started.
For the next few days, the city will be buzzing with excitement, as the next big thing is the Children’s Carnival Parade on the first Sunday of the carnival. Kids get a chance to express themselves and become a part of a large and colourful crowd of brightly dressed happy children. The second week of the festival is cheese week, or Tyrini, so if you love cheese, this is the thing for you! Throughout the week, you can also see (and hear) serenaders at various Limassol neighbourhoods.
The main attraction, the Grand Carnival Parade, happens on the last Sunday before Lent and right before Green Monday. During the Parade, hundreds of people dress up in silly costumes and mount ridiculous floats to walk (or drive) through the high street of Limassol. The event unites people of all ages and backgrounds, and is truly the sight to see.
If you have just found out about the carnival, then you have no time to waste, as it has already started! This year, the pre-carnival events began on February 5 with the exhibition of photos from the last year’s festival. On February 7, Theomania Art Gallery opened their 12th annual carnival mask exhibition. If you missed it on the opening night, you would have a chance to see the exhibition until February 28.
Now, the real fun began on February 8 with the carnival fiestas. Until February 18, residents and guests of Cyprus would be able to enjoy the many festivities, delicious foods, good music and colourful costumes. If you want to see the full schedule of all the events to attend during this year’s carnival, see the full programme below.
While you might have missed the Children’s Carnival Parade that happened this Sunday (February 11), you still have some time until the main event — the Grand Carnival Parade, which is scheduled for February 18. It will start at the Ayios Nikolaos Round About at around 1 p.m. and march all the way up to the Polemida Traffic Lights.
The Carnival will close with a party at the Old Port Square at 9 p.m. There, people can also take part in the costume competition; top three participants with the best looks will receive awards for their costumes. So make sure you are wearing your most amazing outfit if you want to win! If you are ever in Cyprus this time of year, Limassol Carnival should definitely be among your top 5 things to experience. It is vibrant, playful and silly, and everyone who attends can get a chance to let loose and have some fun. But do not worry if you cannot make it this time, as there is always next year!