Annual flower festival in Paphos

PAPHOS is gearing up for the 94th Anthestiria Flower Festival due to be held in the coastal town and organisers are appealing for more people to take part to make the event the best yet.

The event was originally planned for May but was put back by a couple of weeks to enable time for more people to register. It will now take place on June 1.

Locals welcome the arrival of spring and highlight the beauty of nature by taking part in a parade featuring fresh flowers which deck floats and are carried in the form of wreaths or in baskets.

Despite a minimal budget this year, due to the poor economic climate, Ermina Mais, the cultural officer of Paphos municipality said the festival’s importance with its roots in ancient Greece need to be sustained.

“For 94 years this parade has taken place in Paphos and it’s very important to keep such traditions alive, not least because we are the cultural capital for 2017, but it is also a traditional way of embracing nature.”

The event was first organised in Paphos in 1920 by a collection of different local groups. Since 1992, Paphos municipality and ‘Nature lovers and cultural society of Paphos’ have teamed up to put on the parade.

The event usually has a budget of around €15,000-€30,000. This year it has been slashed to €6,000. As with every year, flowers to be used in the parade are donated by the municipality of Paphos.

“This year there will be fewer flowers available – red, white and yellow carnations, but people taking part may of course bring their own flowers too, collected from their gardens or elsewhere.”

Mais noted that applications were still being received for the event and stressed that everyone was welcome to take part.

“We are hoping that all sections of the community are represented, both young and old of all nationalities, even though the funds available are low, we can make this a successful event.”

The cultural head said that the festival traces its roots to the Anthestiria celebrations of ancient Greece which were held in honour of the Greek god Dionysus and which spread joy among the people. She said that in modern times such festivals are still held to mark the arrival of spring and to celebrate nature. The word ‘Anthestiria’ is derived from the word ‘anthos’ meaning flower.

“This is particularly important in Paphos as we are a coastal town,” she said.

Mais said that this year’s parade would only see municipal floats taking part, with other participants on foot.

“People usually make wreaths with the flowers. Young girls often bring small baskets and give the flowers to people lining the route.”

Mais said that the continuation of this festival and others like it, such as Kataklysmos is imperative in order to preserve the cultural identity and traditions of Paphos.

The Anthestiria Flower Festival parade will make its way along Grivas Dighenis Street in Paphos on Sunday June 1 at 6pm. It will last for about an hour and people are being invited to line the route.

For further information or to take part in the event – Ermina Mais 26922014

By Bejay Browne

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