Cypriots love celebrations and enjoy organising festivals of all sorts. Each special occasion is marked by a major feast, and excuses for a celebration are not hard to find!

Every town holds their own carnival celebrations in March every year, complete with parades, parties, music and masked balls; and in the summer there are several cultural festivals including the Ancient Greek Drama Festival.

In May, most towns and villages have a flower festival, with a procession through the streets and competitions among the children for the best flower arrangements.

There are also the many small harvest festivals and fairs (panagiri) in all the larger villages of the island, where old and young alike celebrate in the village square, with music, dancing, feasting and drama.

Probably one of the most important city festivals is the Limassol Wine Festival. The tradition, started by the wine producers, began in 1961. The entry fee entitles one to sample the various types of wine on display and to attend all the cultural activities.

 

Major Events in Cyprus

* public holiday

Event or Festivity

Description

January 1st
New Year’s Day* The evening before, most homes bake or buy a vasilopita. This is a cake containing a coin. As soon as the year turns, the cake is cut and the person who finds the coin in their slice is supposed to be lucky for the whole year. Gifts are exchanged.
January 6th
Epiphany* Marks the baptism of Christ in the Jordan river. Holy water fonts at churches are blessed and a bishop tosses a crucifix out over the sea and young men swim for the honour of recovering it.
February or March
Carnival A ten-day festivity and the occasion for fancy-dress parties and parades, particularly in Lemesos.
First day of Lent, always on a Monday Clean Monday* Moveable holiday, marked by picnics in the countryside that include no meat or dairy products, traditional games and the flying of kites. This day indicates the start of the 50-days fasting season before Easter.
March 25th
Greek National Day* Student and military parades are held in all towns to celebrate the beginning of Greece’s war of independence from the Ottoman Empire (1821-1831).
April 1st
Cyprus National Day* This day marks the start of the EOKA rebellion back in 1955 for Cyprus to obtain independence from Great Britain.
Usually in April Good Friday* Easter is the most important religious holiday in Cyprus. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Christ with special prayer services. (Note that the Greek Orthodox Easter usually falls earlier than the Catholic Easter) though they do sometimes coincide.
Sunday after Good Friday Easter Sunday* Marks the end of the fasting season and the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. A family occasion when food is plentiful and the mood is jolly.
Monday after Easter Sunday
Easter Monday* A day of relaxation and part of the Easter break. Shops and banks remain closed.
May 1st
Labour Day* The International Workers Day. Celebrations are organised by the unions and socialist groups.
May Flower Festival A celebration of nature’s beauty during spring.
May to July
Pharos Chamber Music Festival Chamber concerts and recitals are held at various venues in Nicosia.
50 days after Eaaster, always on a Monday
Kataklysmos* Also known as the Festival of the Flood or Whit Monday. Cypriots celebrate by sprinkling each other with water.
July/August
Ancient Greek Drama Festival A cultural event including performances of ancient dramas and comedies at the ancient theatre of Citrium (Lemesos).
August Village Festivals Many towns and villages across the island hold a summer festival during the month of August. These festivals, that combine traditional music and dancing, food, drink and art crafts, are a great introduction to the traditional Cyprus hospitality.
August 15th
Assumption of the Virgin* According to Greek Orthodoxy this is the day that Christ took his mother to heaven. The week it fall in marks the summer holidays. Most people in Cyprus takes the entire week off from work and some shops, restaurants or other establishments may also close for the week.
August/September Afamia Grape Festival At the village of Koilani, home to four wineries. The festival celebrates the end of the harvest season with folk dancing, live music and a market.
August or September Pafos Aphrodite Festival Every year a well-known opera is performed by professional singers in the square in front of the medieval castle in Pafos.
September Wine Festival Takes place in the Municipal Garden of Lemesos. Visitors have the opportunity to taste some of the best Cyprus wines free of charge.
September/October “Ta Kypria” International Festival An island-wide cultural event that brings to Cyprus some of the world’s best artists in the fields of music, dance, art and performance.
October 1st Cyprus Independence Day* Cyprus celebrates its independence from Great Britain in 1960 with school and military parades across the island.
October 28th Greek National Day* Also known as OHI DAY (No day), this is a celebration of Greece’s reply to Moussolini’s request for Greece to surrender in 1940.
December 25th-26th Christmas Day and Boxing Day* The Christian holiday celebrating the Nativity of Jesus Christ. One of the most beautiful traditions of the festivity is the Christmas carols sung by children from door to door.

The photo for this article was kindly provided by the Cyprus Tourism Organization.

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