Imagine the biggest party you've ever seen. Join in a forbidden festival. Wander through the streets, playing pranks. Add loud music and some thousands of participants dressed in you-name-it costumes floating the streets. Under the auspices of the Carnival King, you are welcome to come together with all the fellow masqueraders and fill the city streets, bars, clubs and colourful parade groups.
Patrinó karnaváli (Patras carnival) is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. Giant decorated cars, carts and coaches, colourful papier-mâché figures will fill the city streets. A key character is the Carnival King, presented in all his splendour. The Carnival also has its Queen, who is actually a beautiful young lady on a floral or an artistic float. There is also a night parade, called “nyhteriní podaráti", which takes place on Saturday night, before Sunday’s extravagant parade. Thousands of carnival participants organised into groups dance holding torches in the dimly lit streets of the city. The only float participating is the King’s, and that’s the reason why this parade is called “podaráti”, which means “walking”.
If you find yourself in Central Greece during the carnival festive season, you should definitely attend Tyrnavos Carnival, a “rebellious” little town in the Plain of Thessaly. Pick the team you would like to be part of (“Next Top Model”, “Surgeons and Sexy Nurses”, “Tri-Colour Macaroni, etc.) and party to your heart’s content!
Now, up to Northeastern Greece, in Xanthi Carnival! Over 40 cultural associations participate in the Carnival program and set up their stalls in the streets of the city to wine and dine the guests with plenty of local wine and delicacies. Look out for the custom “To kápsimo tou Tzárou” (the burning of Tzaros) and watch out for the highlight of the Carnival celebrations, the Great Carnival Parade (float parade) on the evening of the final day. Floats with thousands of masked revellers fill the streets of the town with music and colors to accompany the King of the Carnival.
Want more? Let’s go to the place where Carnival festivities and Venetian tradition meet. Every year in Rethymno, for almost a whole month, the city plays host to a succession of fun-filled celebrations, bringing together locals and visitors who participate in this carnival because they love to enjoy every moment of their lives. The parade is a spectacular production of pictures and sounds and a strong Venetian influence evident in the costumes, the carnival floats and the spirit of the carnival celebration.
When the carnival festive season is over, the period of fasting until Easter begins. Take the opportunity to enjoy the first day of spring in the nicest way possible, joining in with Clean Monday celebrations - a day of joy and excitement in Greece and one of the most anticipated days of the year! On this day old traditional customs are brought to life again. Take a look at the events all over Greece and make the choice that most takes your fancy.