Rethymno Carnival

Rethymno Carnival

Did you know that Rethymno Carnival, held in the town of Rethymno on the island of Crete, Greece, is one of the oldest and most beloved celebrations in the country? Dating back to the Venetian period in the 16th century, this lively event has become a significant part of the local culture and a cherished tradition for both residents and visitors alike. With its origins rooted in the ancient Dionysian festivals, the Rethymno Carnival has evolved over the years to represent a unique blend of cultural heritage and contemporary enjoyment.

The Rethymno Carnival serves as a vibrant showcase of Cretan creativity and community spirit. Each year, for almost three weeks leading up to Lent, the town’s streets come alive with colorful parades, enchanting performances, and various artistic events. This exuberant celebration is a platform for locals to express themselves through music, dance, costume, and satire. Young and old alike eagerly participate in the festivities, transforming the entire town into a joyous carnival hub.

Beyond its cultural significance and festive nature, the Rethymno Carnival plays a vital role in the local economy. With thousands of tourists flocking to the town every year specifically for this event, it has become a significant source of revenue for businesses in Rethymno. Hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops all benefit from the influx of visitors, further emphasizing the carnival’s role as a driving force for the town’s economic prosperity.

Not only does the Rethymno Carnival bring joy and spectacle to its attendees, but it also fosters a sense of community and belonging. People from all walks of life, both locals and tourists, come together to revel in the excitement and show their support for the town’s cultural heritage. This shared experience transcends language and cultural barriers, uniting people in a collective celebration that promotes goodwill and multicultural understanding.

In recent years, the Rethymno Carnival has gained international recognition, attracting visitors from around the world who wish to witness this extraordinary event. According to statistics, the carnival’s popularity has been steadily increasing, with an average of over 50,000 people attending each year. This growth in attendance not only underscores the carnival’s appeal but also highlights its ability to promote the town of Rethymno as a must-visit destination.

As the Rethymno Carnival continues to evolve and adapt to the changing times, it remains a symbol of cultural pride and communal spirit for the people of Rethymno. This annual celebration serves as a beckoning call for both locals and tourists to immerse themselves in the vibrant festivities, experience the warm hospitality of the Cretan people, and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, if you ever find yourself in Crete during the carnival season, be sure to join in the revelry and witness the magic of the Rethymno Carnival for yourself.

What are the highlights of the Rethymno Carnival, and why is it a must-visit event?

The Rethymno Carnival, encompassing vibrant festivities and cultural celebrations, is a significant event held annually in the charming city of Rethymno, Greece. Offering a captivating blend of tradition, music, dance, and artistic performances, this carnival has been a long-standing tradition for centuries. From colorful parades to theatrical shows and numerous activities for all ages, the Rethymno Carnival promises an unforgettable experience for locals and visitors alike. Discover the mesmerizing history, customs, and atmosphere of this renowned festival in the upcoming sections, where we delve into its various aspects and the reasons it attracts thousands of spectators every year.

Answering the Rethymno Carnival: Greece’s Grandest Celebration

Rethymno Carnival, also known as the Municipality of Rethymno Carnival or Rethymno Karnavali in Greek, is an annual cultural event that takes place in the city of Rethymno, located on the beautiful island of Crete, Greece. This vibrant carnival has a long history dating back to the 1800s and is considered one of the grandest celebrations in the country.

The Origins of Rethymno Carnival

The roots of Rethymno Carnival can be traced back to the Venetian and Ottoman eras. During these periods, masked balls and processions were common in Rethymno, a testament to the multicultural influences that shaped the city’s history. Over time, these celebrations evolved into what is now known as the Rethymno Carnival.

Unleashing Creativity and Revelry

One of the defining features of the Rethymno Carnival is its emphasis on creativity and participation. Unlike many other carnivals around the world, Rethymno Carnival revolves around the concept of “apokries,” a Greek term referring to the period of revelry and feasting leading up to the fasting period of Lent in the Orthodox Christian calendar.

During the carnival, the streets of Rethymno transform into a riot of colors, music, and elaborate costumes. Locals and visitors alike gather to showcase their creativity while parading through the city’s picturesque alleys. The city comes alive with performances, music bands, dance groups, and theatrical shows, creating a festive atmosphere that is truly unique to Rethymno Carnival.

Events and Highlights

Rethymno Carnival offers a diverse range of events and activities that cater to people of all ages and interests. Some of the highlights include:

  • Grand Parade: The grand parade is the centerpiece of the carnival. It features elaborate floats, costumed participants, and lively music. Thousands of people line the streets to witness this spectacular procession.
  • Treasure Hunt: A popular event for families, the treasure hunt takes participants on a thrilling quest across the city, solving riddles and clues to discover hidden treasures.
  • Carnival Balls: Masked balls are an integral part of the Rethymno Carnival. These elegant and vibrant events allow participants to showcase their finest costumes while dancing the night away.
  • Street Performances: Throughout the carnival, the streets of Rethymno come alive with performances by local and international artists. From acrobatics to live music, these street shows add an extra dose of entertainment to the festivities.

Preserving Tradition and Community Spirit

Aside from its festive nature, Rethymno Carnival holds deep cultural significance for the people of Rethymno. It serves as a platform for preserving traditions, fostering community spirit, and showcasing the city’s rich heritage.

Local groups and organizations play a crucial role in organizing and participating in the carnival. From dance schools to cultural associations, these groups collaborate to create stunning performances and displays, allowing the carnival to thrive and evolve year after year.

A Growing Tradition

Rethymno Carnival continues to gain international recognition and attracts visitors from all corners of the globe. The carnival has become an important tourism event for the island of Crete, with visitors flocking to Rethymno to experience the vibrant celebrations and immerse themselves in the local culture.

According to recent statistics, Rethymno Carnival draws more than 50,000 participants and spectators each year, making it not only Greece’s grandest carnival but also one of the largest and most exciting celebrations in the entire country.


1. What is the Rethymno Carnival?

is an annual festival held in Rethymno, Greece, to celebrate the beginning of Lent. It is a vibrant and colorful event that showcases traditional Cretan customs and folklore.

2. When does the Rethymno Carnival take place?

usually takes place in February or March, leading up to the Orthodox Easter. The exact dates vary each year, so it’s best to check the official carnival website for the updated schedule.

3. What can I expect to see at the Rethymno Carnival?

you can expect to see lively parades featuring extravagant floats, traditional dances and music, colorful costumes, and a festive atmosphere throughout the streets. There are also various cultural events, concerts, and parties organized during the carnival period.

4. Can I participate in the Rethymno Carnival?

Absolutely! Welcomes everyone to participate, regardless of age, nationality, or background. Visitors can join the parades, wear costumes, dance, and immerse themselves in the festivities. There are also specific events and activities for children, making it a family-friendly celebration.

5. How do I get to Rethymno for the carnival?

Rethymno is easily accessible by both domestic and international flights. The closest airport is Chania International Airport, and from there, you can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Rethymno. Alternatively, you can also travel by ferry from Athens or other Greek islands.

6. Are there accommodation options near the carnival?

Absolutely! Rethymno offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses, there are plenty of choices within walking distance of the carnival festivities.

7. Are there any entry fees to attend the carnival?

No, it is a free event. You can freely attend the parades, concerts, and cultural events without any entry fees. However, some specific parties or organized activities may require tickets or additional fees.

8. What should I wear to the Rethymno Carnival?

It is encouraged to dress up and wear costumes or masks during the carnival. Get creative and embrace the festive spirit by wearing colorful and flamboyant attire. However, make sure to consider the weather conditions and dress comfortably as some activities may involve walking or dancing.

9. Are there any safety measures in place during the carnival?

Yes, the organizers prioritize the safety and well-being of attendees. There are security personnel and police officers present to ensure a safe environment. It’s always advised to be aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings secure, and follow any instructions or guidelines provided by the authorities.

10. Can I take photographs or videos during the carnival?

Yes, photography and videography are allowed during the Rethymno Carnival. Feel free to capture the vibrant moments and beautiful costumes. However, be respectful of others’ privacy and ask for permission before taking close-up shots of individuals.


In conclusion, the Rethymno Carnival is an extraordinary event that brings together locals and tourists alike to celebrate and immerse themselves in the rich cultural traditions of Crete. The carnival, which has a history dating back centuries, features an array of vibrant parades, lively street parties, and mesmerizing music and dance performances. Through its diverse range of activities, including costume contests and theatrical shows, the carnival promotes creativity, individual expression, and a sense of unity among its participants.

One of the key highlights of the Rethymno Carnival is the grand parade, where elaborately decorated floats and costumed groups pass through the streets, captivating the audience with their artistic displays. This spectacle showcases the incredible craftsmanship and artistic talent of the locals, while providing a glimpse into the mythology, history, and folklore of the island. Furthermore, the carnival fosters a lively and inclusive atmosphere, as people from all walks of life come together to enjoy the festivities and share in the joyous spirit of the event.

Overall, the Rethymno Carnival stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Crete and serves as a platform for creative expression, community engagement, and celebration. The event not only offers an unforgettable experience for its participants, but also allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant local traditions and create lasting memories. Whether it be the sensational parades, the lively music and dance performances, or the sheer energy of the street parties, the Rethymno Carnival is a must-attend event that truly captures the essence of the Cretan spirit and showcases the unique charm of the charming town of Rethymno.