Carnival of Rethymno | Traveler by Unique


History of Rethymno carnival

Rethymno started hosting the carnival celebration almost one century ago. In fact, the first attempts of humoristic performances and acts were recorded officially during the year 1915. During the early years of the Rethymno Carnival, the celebration has a more romantic approach with dances and atmospheric music. A main feature of this period was the infamous King of Carnival who was warmly welcomed by the crowds. The people were showing the necessary respect to the leading figure of the carnival and the celebration was starting in an atmosphere that was full of joy and laughter.

During the early 1990s, another feature was added to the carnival of Rethymno which contributed to the evolution of the celebration. Indeed, the tradition of hunting the hidden treasure was the driving force for the formation of groups that would later on incorporated within the parade. The groups were so powerful in providing the necessary energy and joy to the carnival, something which led the mayor in 1993 to ask them to take on the organization of the carnival. From that moment and until today, the Rethymno Carnival became the carnival for the whole Cretans. It has to be noted that each and every year the Rethymno Carnival is becoming more and more popular. The participating groups in the carnival parade are consisting of more people and they are trying to overcome themselves every year. That is the reason that Rethymno Carnival attracts people from around Greece and foreign visitors.


Preparations and children friendly activities

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Rethymno Carnival is a whole month of celebrations. For the whole duration of the carnival, the city of Rethymno becomes a city of laughter and joy in which every corner hosts a unique and memorable carnival happening. People from around the world gather with the locals and participate in an endless party. The carnival events are spreading a flawless joy and a unique charm around the city.

Carnival celebrations achieve to bring people closer and establish a memorable cooperative process in which locals and volunteers are preparing the festivities. The main aim of the people who contribute in this extraordinary effort is to promote innovation in the Rethymno Carnival. It has to be noted that, each and every year the Rethymno Carnival has a different thematic approach on which the groups and the performances should be based.

Once the preparations are done, the great party starts! The beginning of the carnival is announced by a town crier who is in charge to walk around the city and inform people about the various events of the carnival. The first event that signals the carnival is the traditional treasure hunt for children. This event is ideal for families as children can participate in parties, dances, handcraft workshops and various games that are specially designed for the children.


The carnival

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Rethymno Carnival is not only for children, as many other events are taking place for those who feel young at heart. Throughout the streets and the squares of this charming city there are happenings that meet every expectation. The vast majority of bars and night clubs organize carnival parties where visitors can enjoy drinking and dancing as the carnival atmosphere is spreading fun through the city. Moreover, there is a treasure hunt for adults, dancing groups which are performing carnival dances and a spectacular night parade. In this unique experience of night parade, thousands of people gather in full costume and walk through the city’s streets.

There is also another interesting event of the Rethymno Carnival, during which carnival groups walk through the old town of Rethymno and sing romantic and nostalgic melodies, also known as “Kantades”. However, the grand escalation of the carnival celebrations is of course the impressive carnival parade. Thousands of people participate every year in this memorable parade that has intense elements of the infamous Venetian Carnival. This fun and exciting parade lasts for hours and ends when the King of the Carnival is burnt. During the night, big parties are organized around the city signalling the end of the carnival.


The day after

The day after the Carnival is called Clean Monday and signals the beginning of the fasting period before the Christian Orthodox Easter. This day is also a great opportunity for visitors to observe the local traditions and participate in this celebratory day. Around Rethymno, villages form the perfect setting for such events. In every village old traditions revive and provide the chance for the new generations to learn the customs of Crete. Carnival and Clean Monday for Rethymno is an important tradition that lasts throughout the years. It is a month full of celebrations and joyful moments for all ages and a great gateway from the everyday life stress. Visitors who choose to participate in this exciting celebration are experiencing the real and vibrant atmosphere of the city and of the people.