Carnival Traditions In Greece

  • by XpatAthens
  • Wednesday, 06 March 2024
Carnival Traditions In Greece
Imagine one of the biggest street parties you've ever seen. It's a time when people of all ages can take a break from their everyday lives, dress up in full costume, and dance in the street! This is carnival in Greece!

Carnivals Around Greece

The Patras Carnival is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. Giant decorated cars, carts, coaches, and colorful paper-mâché figures fill the city streets for a full weekend of street parades and parties. A key character is the Carnival King, presented in all his splendor. The carnival also has its queen, who is actually a beautiful young lady on a floral or artistic float. There is also a night parade, called “nyhteriní podaráti" (which means night walk), which takes place on Saturday night before Sunday’s extravagant parade. Thousands of carnival participants are organized into groups and dance holding torches in the dimly lit streets of the city. The only float allowed to participate in this parade is the King’s.

If you find yourself in central Greece during carnival season, you should definitely experience the Tyrnavos Carnival; Tyrnavos is known as a “rebellious” little town in the region of Thessaly, just outside the city of Larissa. Put on your costume and pick a team that you'd like to be part of (the “Next Top Model,"  “Surgeons and Sexy Nurses,"  “Tri-Colour Macaroni, etc.), and get ready to party until your heart’s content!

Head to northeastern Greece for the Xanthi Carnival to experience a spectacular carnival that is organized in association with over 40 cultural groups of the region. Each association sets up its stalls in the streets of the city to wine and dine the guests with plenty of local wine and delicacies. Be sure to look out for the custom of “To kápsimo tou Tzárou” (the burning of Tzaros) as well as for the highlight of carnival celebrations, the Great Carnival Parade on the evening of the final day of the carnival. Floats with thousands of masked revelers fill the streets with music and colors to accompany the Carnival King.

If you enjoy carnival with a Venetian masquerade twist, then head to Crete for the Rethymno Carnival. For almost a whole month, the city is host to a series of fun-filled celebrations, bringing together locals and visitors alike who want to participate in carnivals just simply because they love to live in the moment! The Rethymno Carnival Parade is a spectacular production of pictures and sounds with a strong Venetian influence evident in the costumes, the carnival floats, and the overall spirit of the carnival celebration.