Information on the many festivals and celebrations in Cyprus, including Kataklysmos and Limassol Carnival...
Cyprus is host to a huge variety of events and festivals throughout the year. As Cyprus is largely Greek Orthodox, many of the island's festival are religious in origin.
Carnival and Religious Festivals
Apokreo - Limassol Carnival: The Apokreo are carnival festivals that occur before Easter every year throughout Cyprus. The date falls in late February or beginning of March. Limassol Carnival is one of the largest. Every year, two weeks before the Greek Orthodox Lenten period, Limassol Carnival kicks off during Kreatini (meat week), the last chance for the consumption of meat before Easter. There are two parades on the Saturday and Sunday of the carnival weekend, fancy-dress parties, music and games in the streets of Limassol.
- Read more about Limassol Carnival from the Municipality of Limassol website
Green Monday (Kathara Deftera): This signifies the beginning of Lent and towns and villages throughout Cyprus offer music, dancing and meat-free delicacies. Many Cypriot families head to the countryside for picnic and barbeques, and in Paphos, a kite-flying competition is very popular.
Easter: Greek Orthodox Easter isn't a festival per se, but it is considered the most important holiday in the Greek Orthodox calendar. Celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon of the Spring equinox, it is a time of renewal, with people cleaning, cooking and buying new clothing during the Holy Week before Easter. On Easter Sunday and Monday, families feast and play games.
Kataklysmos: The Festival of the Flood takes place annually, 50 days after Easter. The origins of this festival are debated; some claim it began with ancient ceremonies honouring Aphrodite and Adonis, others believe it's a tribute to Noah's survival in his Ark or a celebration of Lazarus being resurrected and coming ashore. As with most other festivals, music, dancing and food are plentiful. Many towns host boating and swimming competitions. During the festival it is customary to splash other participants with water.
Larnaca hosts the largest Kataklysmos Festival over a four day period. The Finikoudes sea front promenade is lined with stalls selling traditional Cypriot food and souvenirs. There is also live music from well-known names from the Greek music industry.
Anthestiria Flower Festival: Generally in May, the Flower Festival in the streets of Paphos is believed to have originated in celebrations honouring Dionysus, the protector of the theatre. Today it is more a celebration of the bounty of Spring. The festival features a parade of flower-decorated floats marking springtime in Cyprus.
Ancient Greek Drama Festival: An annual event in Limassol District, the drama festival held in the Theatre of Citrium has performances, in Greek, of the ancient Greek dramas.
- The Cyprus Centre of International Theatre Institute has more information on the festival from the Cyprus Centre of International Theatre Institute
Shakespeare Festival, Kourion: Annual performance of one of Shakespeare’s works held at the ancient Kourion amphitheatre in Limassol. The production is produced by the committee of The Performing Arts for Cyprus Charities. Money raised from ticket sales is donated to charity.
The European Contemporary Dance Festival: Organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the RIALTO Theatre. Dance groups from all over Europe take part in contemporary dance performances and workshops. The festival is hosted at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol with some performances in Nicosia.
Ayia Napa Children's Festival: Annually in June, the Ayia Napa Children's Festival offers entertainment for kids, including dance and musical performances, games, fair, face painting and sports contests. In the Ayia Napa square.
Nicosia Beer Festival: Also known as ‘Septemberfest’ this festival is co-organized by the Nicosia Municipality, the Tourism Development and promotion district of Nicosia and the Nicosia Chamber. As well as beer sampling, the festival includes a music and arts programme.
Limassol Beer Festival: Every July, Limassol hosts the Limassol Beer Festival. Local and imported beer is on offer as is live music.
Limassol Wine Festival: Several weeks of wine tastings, dancing, music and Cypriot foods at the Municipal Gardens during evenings in late August and early September.
- The Limassol Municipality website has more information on the annual Wine Festival
Ayia Napa International Festival: An annual festival in September to promote and celebrate the town of Ayia Napa and Cypriot culture, through music, dance, theatre, art exhibits and food. In the Ayia Napa square.
The International Pharos Chamber Music Festival: Hosted by The Pharos Arts Foundation, the festival is a showcase for new talent and alternative forms of contemporary music. Live performances take place in unique settings around the island. For more details visit the The Pharos Arts Foundation website.
Commandaria Festival: Commandia wine is produced in Cyprus. Each year Lania Village hosts an annual week-long festival to celebrate the start of the grape harvest. The festival programme includes traditional Cypriot music and dance.
The Kypria International Festival: Large cultural performing arts festival with guest artists from around the world. The festival usually takes place in September and October. Performances include ballet, theatre, arts, cinema, opera and music.
Pafos Aphrodite Opera Festival: Three day opera festival held in August or September in front of Medieval Castle in the harbour of Kato Paphos. The performance includes well known artists from all over the world.