If you travel to Rethymno in March 2016 you can attend the largest carnival in Greece. Rethymno Carnival takes place over the three weeks before the beginning of Lent. Why not participate, by dressing up and joining the parade or one of the masked balls?
You could also catch one of the many concerts or even participate in the famous Rethymno treasure hunt. The highlight of the festival takes place on the last weekend with the evening parade on Saturday and the grand parade on Sunday noon. Carnival comes to an end with the burning of King Carnival’s dummy on the beach of Rethymno, east of the old town. The day after the last parade is “Pure Monday” which marks the end of the festivities and the beginning of Lent, an occasion on which everybody is invited to fly kites, eat fish and practice abstinence from meat. That’s why during the carnival Greeks typically consume large amounts of meat: cafés, restaurants and locals set up barbecues on the streets and the stench of grilled meat fills the air everywhere you go.
If you join Rethymno Carnival, be prepared for a huge party atmosphere, colorful, noisy, boozy and excessive beyond belief.
Although closely linked to the Orthodox tradition, one can find the origins of the "Apokries" (Greek Carnival) way back. In Ancient Greece, they held celebrations in honor of Dionysus, the God of wine and madness, which marked the end of winter. That’s where the modern carnival was inspired from.
UPDATED: RETHYMNO CARNIVAL 2017
05 February 2017 (Sunday)
The beginning of the carnival period was celebrated with a ceremony held in Old Town, Rethymno
16 February 2017 (Thursday)
“Tsiknopempti” -aka Fat Thursday- is celebrated by feasting on meat and attending masked balls
25 February 2017 (Saturday)
Evening parade starts at 9pm
27 February 2017 (Sunday)
The grand parade starts at 2pm
28 February 2018 (Monday)
Clean Monday or “Kathara Deftera” celebrated by flying kites and consumption of seafood.
Remember to book your accommodation in advance because during the carnival, it's harder to find a place to stay, especially for the last weekend. Our apartment provides an affordable and comfortable stay for carnival visitors.
Romain Picon wrote this article on behalf of Apartment Old Town. Romain is a French travel writer who lives in Greece and visits Crete every year. He has worked as a trekking guide and even composed a unique travel guide for Athens. The article has been proofread and edited by Valanti.
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