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Cyprus events & festivals: Delve into history and tradition

By April 11, 2018 No Comments

Rich in archaeological sites, dramatic landscape and breath-taking coastline, Cyprus’ diversity is reflected in an amazing calendar of events and activities. Cyprus hosts various annual arts, historical, religious and sporting events and festivals that draw crowds from across Cyprus and the world. Many of these events take place between autumn and spring, when the weather is warmer.

Therefore, you can delve into Cyprus’ rich history and culture through several, wonderful activities and events held in the island. Because, whatever the season, Cyprus provides ample opportunity to experience something new, interesting and exciting.

Below, we have gathered the most important festivals, listed by region:

NICOSIA REGION:

Cyprus International Fair

The Cyprus International Fair is the largest trade show in Cyprus and takes place in Nicosia at the end of May. Every year hundreds of exhibitors display products and services of more than a thousand companies from Cyprus and all over the world. Furniture and household goods, electrical appliances, cars, travel goods and air-conditioning units are among the many products included in the show. The Cyprus International Fair is organized by the Cyprus State Fairs Authority, a semi-government organization that was created specifically to run and promote the annual Cyprus International Fair. The first Cyprus International Fair took place in 1975.

Aglandjia Festival

This cultural festival used to be just three days long. Since 2007 locals and guests of the capital can enjoy the festivities for over 2 weeks. The festival takes place in summer, middle of June – beginning of July. The program of the festival usually includes dance, theatrical and music performances. All events take place at the cultural centre ‘To Skali’. All events of the festival are free.

Rainbow Festival

The aim of this anti-racism multicultural festival is to bring people of all races together. It is organized by KISA (Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism) and takes place at at Eleftheria Square Park in the centre of the capital. The Rainbow festival joins together various migrant, asylum seeker and refugee community organizations and Cypriot human rights and cultural organizations. The program of the festival includes music, songs and dances. There are also exhibitions and information kiosks where you can learn about the fight against racism and discrimination on the island. The Rainbow festival usually takes place in November. Entrance is free. The event also takes place in Limassol at Molos Waterfront.

Pharos International Chamber Music Festival

This annual event takes place in May and lasts for about one week. Each year guests of the festival enjoy the classical music performances given by some of the world’s best musicians.

Chamber concerts, recitals and a lecture series are given during the festival. Events take place at PASYDY Auditorium in Nicosia and at the Royal Manor House at Kouklia.

Cyprus Film Days

The Cyprus Film Days is an annual festival focusing on film-lovers. The event is organized by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture together with the Rialto Theatre of Limassol. The aim of the festival is to present a more complete and characteristic depiction of the international film scene. The movies shown at the festival are mostly from Europe and Asia.

The movies are screened at Pantheon Art Cinema and Cine Studio in Nicosia and Rialto Theatre in Limassol. The Cyprus Film Days festival usually takes place in April.

LIMASSOL REGION:

Wine Festival

The wine festival has been one of the featured events in Limassol, Cyprus’s wine capital, since 1961. It takes place at the Municipal Gardens, just across the Olympion promenade, in the beginning of September and lasts for 12 days. The Limassol Wine Festival was inspired by the ancient festivals dedicated to the God of wine Dionysus and honours the long island’s tradition of winemaking. Although there is a small entrance fee, the wines produced by the island’s wineries are offered free of charge in unlimited quantities.

Another popular feature of the Wine Festival is a traditional wine press. Folkloric dances, songs, theatrical performances from local and international artistic groups are also included in the program of the festival.

Cyprus Rally

Since 1970 Cyprus has been holding a rallying competition, the Cyprus Rally. It is a three-day event that takes place in the middle of May, on the streets of Limassol and dangerous mountain roads of Troodos. The rally route is divided into different sections; these are known as “road sections” and “special stages”. Regarding special stages, drivers must complete these parts of the road as quickly as possible.

Lemesia

One of the biggest annual international sporting events in Cyprus – Lemesia – takes place in Limassol in October. Although focusing on professional athleticism, it also aims to promote participation in sports. During the 10 days of Lemesia athletes from several countries compete in a number of disciplines such as boxing, karate, triathlon, marathon, shooting, rhythmic gymnastics, and cycling. First Lemesia took place in Limassol in 1998. Since then, the event experienced growth, with more sport events and international athletes every year.

Russian-Cypriot Festival

The Russian Embassy in Cyprus, the Limassol Municipality and the Russian newspaper Cyprus Advertiser every year organize the Russian-Cypriot Festival. It aims to promote closer relationships between the two countries on a cultural level. The two-day long festival takes place in the beginning of June at Molos area in Limassol. The program includes an exhibition where more than 70 companies, Cypriot and Russian ones, present their products. Guests of the festival are also given the opportunity to see Cypriot and Russian dancers, singers and musicians perform. The second day is solely dedicated to children who show their creative skills at a special concert.

Beer Festival

Limassol hosts an annual Beer Festival, along with the wine festival. The festival takes place at Molos Waterfront in July, and the entrance is free. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy various local and imported beers, while DJs are providing live music.

European Dance Festival

The European Dance Festival, an annual highlight on the European arts and culture scene, takes place in Limassol in May. Dance groups from many European countries come to Cyprus to compete with the Cypriot dance troupes. Each of the groups presents performance representative of their country’s contemporary dance trends. The event is organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Rialto Theatre, with the cooperation of the embassies of participating countries. Performances take place at the Rialto Theatre.

Amathusia Festival

Each summer, Agios Tychonas Community Board holds the Amathusia Festival. The event takes place in a spectacular location amongst the ancient Greek ruins of Amathous in Limassol. The program includes cultural events that introduce visitors and locals to traditional dance and music typical to the region as well as performances by Cypriot contemporary dance groups, top string quartets and Greek and Cypriot singers that present songs both in traditional and modern styles. Entrance is free.

Ballet Festival

For several years, the Limassol Municipality is organizing the Ballet Festival, ranked among the most important events in Cyprus, attracting great numbers of local and foreign visitors.

Some of the past participants include the St. Petersburg Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, Kremlin Ballet, the National Ballet Opera of Hungary and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.

Rainbow Festival

The aim of this anti-racism multicultural festival is to bring people of all races together. It is organized by KISA (Action for Equality, Support and Antiracism) and takes place at Molos Waterfront in Limassol. The Rainbow festival joins together various migrant, asylum seeker and refugee community organizations and Cypriot human rights and cultural organizations.

The program of the festival includes music, songs and dances. There are also exhibitions and information kiosks where you can learn about the fight against racism and discrimination on the island. The Rainbow festival usually takes place in November. Entrance is free.

Shakespearean Nights

Each June, the ancient amphitheatre of Kourion is transformed into a stage for performances of the Shakespearean plays. The open-air Kourion theatre occupies a dramatic cliff top location and creates a perfect environment for staging the works of the famous English poet and playwright. The Shakespeare Festival is a charity event annually organized by the Society for Chest Diseases. The performances attract large numbers of visitors from Cyprus and abroad.

Berengaria Festival

The Berengaria International Music Festival is dedicated to the presentation of both chamber and solo music performed by high caliber musicians from all over the world. The Berengaria Festival takes place in March, at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol. One of the aims of the festival is to introduce new audience, especially young people, to the classical music. For this reason, Berengaria offers every year two morning concerts played by young talented musicians.

Annual Contemporary Dance Platform

In the middle of March, the Annual Contemporary Dance Platform takes place at the Rialto Theater in Limassol. This is a well established dance festival that has been taking place in Cyprus for the last 8 years. The 3-day platform offers a great opportunity to see how contemporary dance in Cyprus is developing. Every year the festival organizers add a new feature.

Koumandaria Festival

July is the month for celebrations in honour of the famous Cypriot wine Koumandaria, a sweet dessert wine that was first produced during the Crusades. The villages of the Kourris Valley, which is one of the main wine producing regions of Cyprus, hold the annual Koumandaria Festival. Alassa, Agios Georgios, Doros, Laneia, Monagri and Silikou are the main participating villages.

Carnival

One of the brightest annual events taking place in the city is definitely the Carnival, since Limassol hosts the largest and most colourful one in Cyprus. Carnival begins 10 days before the Lent, or 50 days before Orthodox Easter, on the Thursday of Kreatini (Meat Week, as it is the last week for eating meat before the Lent). Festivities start with the Carnival King entering the city, decorated for the occasion. On Sunday the youngest participate in the Children’s Parade and then the Serenaders’ shows become the focus of the event. During the 10-day Carnival period many hotels and clubs organize fancy-dress parties.

The Sunday of the second week of the festivities known as Tyrini (Cheese Week, when cheese and other dairy products may be consumed) is the climax of the Carnival. This is when the Grand Carnival Parade takes place. Colorful floats and groups of fancy-dressed people, singing and dancing, move along the Makariou III Avenue in Limassol. Most events are free.

LARNACA REGION:

Anthestiria Festival

The word Anthestiria comes from the Greek word anthos that means “flower”. Flower festivals are organized in many cities and villages. The event features exhibitions, flower markets and shows. The main focus of Anthestiria is the flower parade with beautifully decorated floats and pedestrians carrying flowers. Nowadays the Anthestiria Festivals in Cyprus have a similar theme to that in the ancient times. In Larnaka, the Anthestiria events are usually held in May, upon the famous seafront promenade, where visitors can watch the powerful, vivid flower parade.

Larnaca Summer Festival

In July, residents and guests of Larnaca can enjoy a feast of entertainment at Larnaca Summer Festival, organized by the Municipality of Larnaca. It is a festival of music and performing arts.

Dance, theater and music are performed by national and international artists. The program includes film screenings as well as poetry. The main venues are the courtyard of the Larnaca medieval fort and the Pattichion Municipal Amphitheater where outdoor concerts take place.

Larnaca Amateurs Artistic Creation

In November, a special festival takes place in Larnaca called Larnaca Amateurs Artistic Creation. The event gives you the chance to become acquainted with local amateur groups and performing artists of Cyprus. The program of the festival includes performances of choirs, orchestras, dancing groups and theatrical societies. All events take place at the Larnaca Municipal Theatre.

Larnaca Festival of Classical Music

The classical music fans should not miss the festival organized in April by the Larnaca Municipality. The program of the festival incorporates performances of philharmonic orchestras, brass bands, room orchestras, quartets, classical singing and other. All events take place at the Larnaca Municipal Theater.

European Cultural Winter

Every winter Larnaca Municipality organizes a series of events under the main title European Cultural Winter. There are plenty of entertaining events to satisfy any taste whether you like ballet, orchestra performances, jazz or songs from international and Greek cinema. All events take place at the Larnaca Municipal Theatre.

Cyprus Seniors Cup

In May, senior tennis players gather in Larnaca to participate in the Cyprus Seniors Cup. The sporting event lasts for eight days and is a part of the Tennis Europe circuit. The tournament includes men’s, women’s, mixed, singles and double competitions on clay courts. The age of participants is 35 and above. Cyprus Seniors Cup is hosted by the Larnaca Tennis Club and is organized by the Cyprus Tennis Federation.

Europe Day

The 9th of May is recognized as the Europe Day throughout Europe. This day European countries commemorate the founding of the European Union with special events organized to celebrate their European identity. Larnaca joins the party and organizes a series of events to mark the Europe Day. Festivities take place around the city in various venues but the main focus of the event is on the seafront.

Kataklysmos

Kataklysmos, or the Flood Festival, takes place in Cyprus every year in June, 50 days after Orthodox Easter. The event takes place on the day that is known also as the day of the Holy Spirit, because it commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. In Cyprus, however, the celebrations are connected also to the ancient ceremonies organized in honor of Aphrodite and Adonis. Water is the main focus of the festival. All coastal cities organize concerts, games and other events near the waterfront. Larnaka organizes the biggest Festival of Flood in Cyprus and celebrates Kataklysmos for several days. On the seafront promenade you will find open-air fair with plenty of kiosks selling toys and traditional food. Popular Greek and Cypriot singers and dance troupes perform in Larnaka. There are competitions in the water as well as a contest for chatista, or rhyming songs in the Cypriot dialect.

PAPHOS REGION:

Cyprus Marathon

Cyprus Marathon takes place every March in the Paphos region. Professional and amateur runners from all over the world come to Cyprus to participate in this sporting event. It incorporates three different distances: the Marathon, Half Marathon and 10 km Road Race. The starting point of the Cyprus Marathon is at Petra tou Romiou, the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, and it finishes with a long section of road on the Paphos seafront at the Paphos Medieval Castle square.

Pharos International Chamber Music Festival

This annual event takes place in May and lasts for about one week. Each year guests of the festival enjoy the classical music performances given by the best world musicians. Chamber concerts, recitals and a lecture series are given during the festival. Events take place in the Royal Manor House at Kouklia. It is worth mentioning that the Royal Manor House at Kouklia is one of the finest surviving monuments of Frankish architecture on the island and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Apollon International Chamber Music Festival

The mission of the Apollon International Chamber Music Festival is to foster a greater appreciation of classical music in the Mediterranean region by presenting performances featuring world-class musicians in beautiful surroundings, while emphasizing the development of a broad based, sustainable audience through education. The festival is organized every November.

Paradise Jazz Festival

Paradise Jazz Festival takes place every year in the Paphos district in September. In 2007 the festival changed its usual location in Pomos and moved to the center of Polis Chrysohous.

The Paradise Jazz Festival was founded in 1999 by David Locke and Socratis, the owner of the Paradise Place bar and restaurant near Pomos. The aim of the festival is to bring the best of London’s young jazz musicians to Cyprus to perform in a relaxed and inspirational location.

Dionysia Festival

Dionysia Festival is a celebration of the island’s great wines, since every year, in the end of hot summer, Stroumbi village of the Paphos district, honours Dionysus, the famed Greek god of wine. First time Dionysia Festival was organized in 1967 when a group of people from the community established the “Dance of the Grape”, which took place in the village square and lasted for one day. Later the event took the form of a three-day festival and grew over the years into one of the biggest and most important events of its kind in the country.

The program of the Dionysia includes many wine exhibits, traditional Cypriot and foreign dances and songs, games, local arts, crafts, fruits, vine-produce and flowers displays. Throughout the duration of the festival plenty of grapes and palouze (must jelly) are offered for free. On the last night of the festival, a “Star Dionysia” and a “Miss Grape” are voted after a dance contest.

Choir Festival

Choir Festival is organized in Paphos every June. The program of the event features performances of the choirs from all over Cyprus and several overseas groups. The festival takes place in the Ancient Odeon in Kato Paphos.

Agia Paraskevi Traditional Fair

Although Agia Paraskevi’s Day is celebrated in all cities and villages of the island with religious services held in the churches, Paphos goes one step further and combines religious events with a traditional fair. The program of the Agia Paraskevi Traditional Fair includes performances, entertainment and traditional kiosks selling food, drink and handicrafts.

Agia Paraskevi Traditional Fair takes place in August.

Arkadia Festival

In August, visit the village of Kallepeia in the Paphos region that comes alive for the annual Arkadia Festival. This event celebrates the beauty of the area.Arkadia Festival includes live music, traditional dancing and great food for which the region is famous.

Pafos Aphrodite Festival 

The festival takes place in September, a month after the Ancient Greek drama festival, in a magical atmosphere in front of the Pafos Medieval Castle. The opera festival included performances by esteemed, worldwide known casts. This popular autumn event is one of the highlights of Cyprus’s cultural calender where classical opera lovers experience three days of love, passion and tragedy under the stars. The Paphos Aphrodite Festival was organized for the first time in 1999, and since then has become one of the most popular events in Cyprus. The event takes place in the open air at the square in front of the medieval castle of Paphos.

 FAMAGUSTA REGION:

Ayia Napa International Festival

Ayia Napa International Festival gives to locals and tourists the opportunity to witness some of the Cypriot traditions in music and folk arts. The event takes place every Septemberat the Sepheris Square at the Venetian-style Ayia Napa Monastery. Ayia Napa International Festival was established in 1985 and become an annual event since then. Theatrical performances, operas, concerts and Cypriot and foreign folk dancing are all included in the festival’s program.

Paralimni Cultural Summer Festival

In July,Paralimni Municipality invites you to Paralimni Cultural Festival. This festival is dedicated to the cultural heritage of Paralimni that is renowned for its folk poets and strong traditions. The program of the event includes traditional dances, music performances and storytelling. Events take place in Paralimni and Protaras.

Children’s Festival

Each June, Ayia Napa gives itself totally over to the kids with its annual Children’s Festival. The event that Ayia Napa Municipality has been organizing since 1994 is focused on the main square of the holiday resort. Guests of the Children’s Festival will find plenty of children’s entertainment including kids’ shows and performances and games to play, a fun fair and face painting. There are also a number of sports contests.

Ayia Napa Cultural Winter

In winter, Ayia Napa presents to its visitors and locals a series of cultural events organized within the framework of Cultural Winter. It was first initiated in 1997 by the Ayia Napa Municipality in collaboration with the Cyprus Tourism Organization and has been well received by the audiences since then. Cultural Winter lasts from November until April. Its program incorporates symphonies, concerts and recitals, as well as art, theatre and dance performances by talented local and foreign artists. The main venue of the events that are free for all is the Municipal Town Hall. Paralimni also organizes Cultural Winter in the months of November until April. The event is a celebration of Cyprus’s cultural heritage, which is explored through a series of concerts, dance performances, poetry readings and recitals.

*Information gathered from the CTO website