The greatest show in Cyprus

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It’s Carnival time! The perfect excuse to let loose, dress up and party on down; a last blast of fantasy before the austerity of Lent kicks in. Learn all about the celebration in Cyprus, watch our video of Carnival 2013, and download the brochure for Carnival 2014. Etymologically the product of the Latin words ‘carne’ and ‘vale’, Carnival bids a somewhat ominous-sounding ‘farewell to flesh’, an allusion to the last few decadent days before the devout settle down to the pre-Easter weeks without meat. But despite its religious connotations, this most hedonistic of celebrations long predates the Christian era, originating with the pagan festivities of Ancient Egypt.

Adopted by the Greeks and then the Romans, the popular festival was embraced by the Roman Catholic Christian Church in Europe, transported to the Caribbean by slave traders and today is celebrated all over the world. Who hasn’t heard of England’s Notting Hill Carnival, the Mardi Gras of New Orleans or Rio’s spectacular Carnaval, better known as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’?
Now, while Cyprus may not boast quite the sequined-swathed sparkle of South American samba specialists, it’s certainly home to one of the most festive places in the Med: Limassol. And though Carnival is celebrated in almost every settlement on the island, it’s this coastal town that has most strongly embraced the tradition. Famous for its love of a good celebration, Limassol is gearing up for the ten-day spectacular, a week-and-a-half of exciting events, officially starting on Thursday with the first of the parades.
At 7pm on February 20, this year’s King of the Carnival – ‘King Memorandum the Great’ – and his entourage will enter the town on an illuminated float, accompanied by the Limassol Serenaders, the Ariones Choir, the Limassol Majorettes, the Limassol Municipality Brass Band, the Batucinio percussion instrument group and various local dignitaries. Setting off from Grigoris Afxentiou Square, and passing down Anexartisias, Ayios Andreos, Karaiskaki, Stasinou and Andrea Drousioti streets, this first parade will terminate in a party in Heroes’ Square to the musical stylings of El Emmascarado.
The second major procession, on Sunday February 23, is the Children’s Carnival Parade, beginning at 11.30am on the seafront close to the old port roundabout. February 27 sees the Evening Carnival Parade, organised by the Limassol Municipality in collaboration with the association Friends of Limassol Carnival and the Lemesos Newspaper, with participants including the Limassol Majorettes and members of the Batucinio percussion instruments group. And there’s even a Serenaders’ Parade on the evening of Saturday, March 1: groups of choristers gathering from 6pm in front of the Town Hall and slowly making their musical way towards Grigoris Afxentiou Square.
But the most spectacular and hotly-anticipated of all the processions is that which ends the riotous festivities: the Grand Carnival Parade on Sunday March 2. King Memorandum The Great will be back, awash on a sea of floats and surrounded by his fleet of masked merrymakers. Starting at Ayios Nikolaos roundabout and ending at the Simillides Traffic Lights, the parade will be an all-out fiesta, during which participants of former carnivals will be honoured by Limassol Municipality for their important contributions over the years.
However, while the parades are great at ramping up the gala atmosphere, the whole 10 days will be packed with a multitude of events. Starting tomorrow, the Panos Solomonides Municipal Centre will be hosting a PanCyprian Photographic Competition and Exhibition on the theme of Limassol Carnival 2013. Wednesday sees the Limassol Municipality and the Theomaria Art Gallery co-organise a carnival mask exhibition and related workshops, while on Thursday, the Choir of Polemidia will support in the inauguration of a Town Hall exhibition by the Limassol Union of Self-Educated Painters.
Also worth a mention are the events of Saturday February 22: Studio 8 School of Art and Design has extended an open invitation to all the people of Limassol to take part in the creation of a carnival float, while from 10.30am onward the Children’s Train will be touring the city. Between 11 and 2, radio station Choice FM 104.3 will be organising a treasure hunt, and from 3pm onward, the Limassol Cycling club will be biking around the city in “a carnival mood”!
There’s simply so much happening that there’s barely space to mention the numerous carnival parties dotted throughout the festivities, let alone the concerts and competitions! So if you’re thinking of donning your mask and joining in the revelry, best check out the fun-filled Carnival 2014 programme in advance. So don your mask and head down to Limassol for what promises to be the best of Carnivals in many a long year.
The Limassol Carnival
From February 20 to March 2, with a wide variety of events at multiple locations. For further details of events, visit www.cyprusevents.net/assets/event/carnival-2014.pdf