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100+ years of Limassol Carnival

The Carnival is a great popular festival, whose roots get lost back in the ancient times. Although celebrated throughout Cyprus, over time it got so large in Limassol that it was identified with the city. As such an institution and a traditional feast, the Carnival was regularly celebrated in the city for over 100 years on the eve of spring filling with optimism all the participants.

The carnival, despite the changes through which it has been, remains connected with the city and its people, with the flourishing and progress of Limassol, with the conviviality and creativity of the locals. The content is always playful and satirical, commenting on events of current matters, social or political.

Carnival in time
The celebrations of traditional crazy mask festival (pellomaska) were replaced by social balls shortly after the arrival of the British in Cyprus, in the late 19th century. Until then, Limassol, trying to outdo each other by choosing the most bizarre and funny disguise, wearing makeshift masks and costumes. Thus, the traditional feast of the festival with "tsiattista" (lyrical, traditional short poems) turns into a "European" type urban carnival.

50s
Plenty of cinemas opened one after another in the city and became places of assembly and cultural / artistic activity. Inevitably their role was linked to the organization of the carnival hosting series of carnival dances.

During this period small-scale parades start to take place, usually hosted on the coastal road. Troubadours’ groups are the only part of the carnival that is found constantly in the streets, helping to create carnival atmosphere. The serenades and carnival songs are since then the music quintessential of the Limassol Carnival.

60s
The boom in tourism and the first hotels that appeared in the city, drag the carnival along with them in a cosmopolitan era. Large city groups organized spectacular dances and the carnival mostly stays indoors. The selection and manufacture of uniforms is a subject of competition and people spent time, money and ingenuity to distinguish.

Carnival in crisis
The traditions of a people are not left behind in the difficulties. Still, the impact of the 1974 war was great. The rhythms of life were reversed and even the big hotels were closed. This resulted to a gap in the organization of the carnival.

Instead, the great economic crisis of 2013, although the announcement for the much painful haircut happened on the weekend of Carnival, the parade took place as usually. According to some opinions, this was necessary to maintain the moral of citizens flourishing, but also to support the local economy.

Carnival today
The substantial cut in organizing the carnival took place from 1996 onwards, under Mayor Dimitris Kontides. The carnival gets out in the streets and major parades become the center of events. The Limassol Municipality organizes all events in open spaces, with free entry and participation. This festive 11-day period includes, among others, great parades, open air dances, masked competitions, art exhibitions etc.

The official opening day for the Carnival is still the Pancake Day (Tsiknopempti). On this day the people of Limassol gather in various parts of the historic center, setting up impromptu barbecues and celebrations and singing serenades.

The carnival festivities culminate during the weekends of Carnival and Tyrini (cheese week) with the organizations of children’s parade and the grand parade with chariots and large thematic groups. In the great parade of the carnival in 2016 the number of people participating exceeded 15,000, a record number in the 100+ years of the event. The size is such that the carnival festivities are being prepared for months.

The troubadours
According to the Carnival program, troubadours participate in lunchtime feasts of Pancake Day (Tsiknopempti), the parade when the Carnival King enters in the evening of the same day, the big parade on the last Sunday and other days for special nights outside, in open air in the city center.

In recent years the Municipality even organizes excursions with Troubadours groups in neighborhoods and suburbs of Limassol. However, the longer-established appearance of Troubadours is the on the last Saturday of Carnival, when the troubadours march on foot from the Town Hall to Grigoris Afxentiou Square, where a spontaneous celebration unfolds.

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