Limassol Carnival

Limassol Carnival
The Limassol Carnival is one of the most anticipated celebrations in Cyprus and arguably one of the world’s most famous carnivals. The carnival season in Limassol begins 12 days before the beginning of Lent and lasts for 10 days filled with feasting, parties, balls and carnival processions.

The roots of the Limassol Carnival can be traced back to pre-Christian times. It is believed to be related to an ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus, the god of wine, theater and ritual madness. However, the first written evidence of the pre-Lenten carnival dates back to the 16th century when Cyprus was occupied by the Republic of Venice. The Limassol Carnival in its modern-day form was first held in the late 19th century.

The Carnival of Limassol is run by the municipality which conducts a minimum five masked balls, including an open-air one, and three large parades. Although it was originally modeled after the Venetian Carnival, the Limassol Carnival is a much more light-hearted celebration which fills the city with joy.

The carnival always begins on a Thursday. A procession lead by the King or Queen Carnival goes through the city to the Tsirion Athletic Stadium where a spectacular concert is held. The Carnival King or Queen often is a satirical figure. The first day of the carnival is known as Tsiknopempti (Thursday of the Smoke of Grilled Meat) because it involves consuming large amounts of meat prior to the beginning of Lent.

The second major parade of the Carnival of Limassol is the Children’s Parade. It is held on the first Sunday of the Carnival. Hundreds of children dressed in carnival costumes flood the streets of Limassol.

The main highlight of the Limassol Carnival is the Grand Parade held on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent). It features over 150 lavishly decorated floats as well as marching bands, groups of drummers, dancing groups, serenaders and other performers. Some participants wear more carnival costumes such as ancient Greeks, pirates, cowboys, clowns and medieval knights, while others dress up as celebrities or characters from popular movies. Thousands of people from all over the island come to Limassol to see the spectacular parade.

All Carnival events organized by the Municipality of Limassol are free to attend and participate, they are held in open and accessible areas. At least one of the five masked balls conducted by the municipality is an open-air event that takes place in the heart of the city. Besides, most hotels and clubs host their own parties and balls.

Limassol Carnival

Photo: michel-k




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