Rethymnon Carnival is one of the biggest and most festive holiday celebrations in Europe. Here’s a look at why you should plan on traveling to Rethymnon and experiencing it one day.
Come to Rethymnon Carnival: A Cultural and Fun Experience
One of the things about our city that makes it so unique is the incredibly strong Venetian influences that are still apparent today. Those influences can be most readily seen in the architecture of our Old Town and during a special event called the Rethymnon Carnival.
Our Carnival takes place in the winter months during Aprokries which is like the Greek version of Mardi Gras. There are several words we can use to describe it: colorful, fun, creative and cultural.
Rethymnon Carnival: What to Expect
Over a span of three to four weeks, the city sponsors several events that are free and open to the public. There’s the introduction of the Carnival King right at the start of the Carnival season. Then, it culminates in the big event several weekends later – the Grand Parade. This is what you cannot miss. More than 15,000 people gather in the Old Town. They line up to watch what dozens of local crews have been working on for months – their floats (locally called carts). Parade participants also wear great group team costumes. You’ll see just how creative, controversial and amusing the themes can be.
We think that the great part of the Grand Parade is that all ages participate in the crews’ activities. You’ll see babies in costume, toddlers and children riding floats, teens marching with their friends, families in themed costumes and seniors will be all dressed up too. Everyone involved collaborates, dances together and is full of energy. Also, note that there is a more informal Children’s Costume Parade in the Old Town the day before the Grand Parade.
The Grand Parade culminates in the early evening at the Old Town beach. Everyone is free to enjoy live concerts, watch the traditional Burning of the Carnival King ceremony right on the sandy beach and admire the fireworks show.
More About Aprokries
Where did all this vibrant revelry come from? Ancient Greece. During that time, Greeks worshipped the Dionysus who was the Greek god of wine, harvest, merriment and fertility. Ancient parades were a way to celebrate the harvest and the symbolic end of winter and the coming of spring.
In time, this same period was known as the fasting period in the Greek Orthodox religion. In fact, the word apokries translates to absence from meat, a four-week period before Clean Monday that marks the beginning of Lent (a 40-day fasting period) that culminates in Greek Orthodox Easter. Under the influence of the Venetians, the carnival took on the form you see today. Costumes and masks are worn, and parades and parties are part of the festivities.
Love Cretan Culture? You’ll Love Rethymnon Carnival
Many of our guests fall in love with Crete and its culture. So, if you want to experience something unique and special to Rethymnon, we invite you to be our guest during Rethymnon Carnival.
The Program of Rethymnon Carnival 2019
- 15/02/2019 – Opening with a big Ceremony that welcomes the new Carnival.
- 22/02/2019 – Party of the Carnival Teams of the 30rd Treasure Hunt.
- 23-24/02/2019 – 30rd Treasure Hunt.
- 26/02/2019 – Old Greek Serenades.
- 28/02/2019 – Tsiknopempti.
- 07/03/2019 – Bike Ride around town for kids and adults.
- 09/03/2019 – Children’s Parade 2019 & Night Parade 2019.
- 10/03/2019 – Great Parade of Teams & Floats.
- 11/03/2019 – Shrove Monday.
For more about the Carnival of Rethymno, the Grand Parade and other city events during Apokries, visit the Guide of Rethymnon website by clicking here.
For informations concerning your accomodation, you may find in the link below: Amazing villas in Crete
Have you ever attended any Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations around the world?