Folkdancers, Cyprus – Image courtesy of ecotourismcyprus.com
Events & Festivals in Cyprus
Cyprus boosts a wide range of cultural and historical events throughput the year. Here are some of the best:
(Feb – April)
Join the Carnival – a two-week period of fancy-dress parades and feasting in the 10 days before Lent.
While Carnival is celebrated throughout Cyprus, Limassol traditionally boasts the liveliest and most entertaining celebrations; Larnaka and Paphos also offer impressive parades and fancy dress balls.
The first week is known as Meat Week (Kreatini) and the last opportunity to eat as much meat as you can before Easter. The second week is known as Cheese Week (Tyrini).
Several parades accompany the feasting including the Children's Carnival Parade, the Serenaders' Parade and the Grand Carnival Parade of chariots and groups.
Anthestiria Flower Festival
In May, the streets of Larnaka and Paphos come alive with colourful blossoms during the annual Anthestiria Festival of flowers. The event climaxes with a parade of floats draped in flowers accompanied by the locals carrying beautiful, fresh flowers travels down Poseidon Avenue into the old harbour of Paphos and the seafront promenade in Larnaca.
The Anthestiria Festival is a celebration of spring and nature's rebirth. It dates back to ancient Greek times. The word Anthestiria derives from the Greek word anthos, meaning flower.
Kourion’s magnificent hillside amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean near Limassol is the perfect location for the Shakespeare Festival organised annually by the Performing Arts for Cyprus Charities. Kourion’s Ancient Theatre is also used regularly for concerts.
(Festival of the Flood)
Be prepared to get wet at this unique festival, which coincides with (Greek) Pentecost and is marked by celebrations at most coastal towns in Cyprus.
The festival begins with a religious ceremony that includes a priest hurling a cross into the sea; the diver who retrieves it receives a blessing, which marks the start of the rest of the festivities.
One of the most popular customs associated with Kataklysmos involves throwing water at one another, which symbolises the purification of the body and soul.
Events in Agia Napa, Limassol, Paphos and Polis are among the most popular and you can expect to see folk dances, boat and swimming competitions, wrestling, canoe-races and tchattista – the act of singing improvised verse by competing groups.
(September & October)
Watch a range of musical collectives, theatrical and ballet troupes, artists, film directors and actors from Cyprus and many countries of the world perform at one of the most significant cultural events in Cyprus.
Former participants have include the Oxford Symphonic orchestra (Great Britain), the oldest English ballet troupe Rambert Dance Company, the Symphonic orchestra of national radio of Romania, the Orchestra of the High Musical School of Bonn (Germany), National Opera Theater of Greece, Compania Andaluzia Flamenko (Spain) and the Moscow State Musical Theatre “Helikon Opera”.
The festival takes place in September and October in several locations across Cyprus.
International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama
(July & August)
The works of ancient playwrights such as Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes come back to life in ancient theatres around Cyprus.
Performances of ancient tragedies and comedies are presented either in Ancient or Modern Greek while a short description of the plot is provided in English as well.
Events take place at Kourion Ancient Theater in Limassol, Ancient Odeon in Paphos and Makarios III Amphitheater in Nicosia. The festival is organized by the Cyprus Tourism Organization and the Cyprus Theater Organization.