We’ve all heard of the Rio Carnival, the New Orleans Mardi Gras and the Notting Hill Carnival but what about the Limassol Carnival? Not so big but just as lively!
Its not all about the summer at English in Cyprus. In winter we still have great weather, but we also get snow in the mountains and celebrate in a big way with the Limassol Carnival.
The Carnival festivities date back to Ancient Greece where celebrations were organized in honour of Dionissos, the god of wine and fun. Greeks used to dress up in various costumes, disguising themselves with masks and would enjoy feasting for days. This tradition lives on.
The Limassol Carnival is held in February eight weeks before Easter Sunday. It begins on ‘Tsiknopempti’, otherwise known as ‘Fat Thursday’, ‘Shrove Tuesday’ or Mardi Gras. This is a day where people traditionally consume large amounts of meat and continue excessive eating until Lent begins and this lasts up until Easter.
On ‘Tsiknopempti’ (this year 8th February) the Carnival King/Queen enters Limassol marking the beginning of the 10 day festive period. Throughout the 10 days there is a carnival buzz everywhere and in everyone, frivolity and fun are paramount. Various traditional carnival events take place: ranging from a children’s carnival parade, carnival fiestas in the centre of town, choirs compete to serenade the townsfolk and then there is the much anticipated, crowd pleasing Grand Carnival Parade which takes place on the last Sunday of the Carnival festivities (this year 18th February) with all the pomp and ceremony anyone can ask for.
The Sunday Parade is the grand finale of the carnival which takes place along Makarios Avenue. The streets are lined with crowds eager to watch the procession of spectacularly designed floats that fill the eye of the beholder, each one more impressive than the previous. In front of, behind, on and alongside each float are groups of people in colourful costumes, dancing and singing to the traditional carnival tunes, their infectious merriment entertaining the crowds.
After prizes for the best floats and costumes are awarded, carnival parties take place till the early hours of the morning all around the old town.
So, carnival period in Cyprus is literally ten days of fun, dressing up in full costume, eating, drinking and dancing on the streets of Limassol. It is the island’s largest liveliest festival.
This is a great time to be studying at English in Cyprus. There will be activities in the school to discover more about this amazing event, and of course our social programme will feature the best of the Carnival celebrations.
Don’t miss out!
Images courtesy of allaboutlimassol.com