Athens, June 2018

Athens, June 2018

Greek Carnival - Karnavali - Apokries


In various regions of Greece Carnivals are held, which have as their main characteristic the distinctive local color and the people's intention to keep the tradition alive. The Carnival celebration usually begins on Tsiknopempti (Smoke Thursday) with a series of cultural, theatrical and other events. Tsiknopempti is traditionally the day when Greeks consume hefty quantities of grilled meat (hence the day’s name) prior to entering Lent as of "Kathari Deutera/Ash Monday".
There are masquerade parties, float parades, majorettes, ballet groups.Each year, more of the ancient traditions of Carnival are being revived in Greece. In Greece, Carnival dates are tied to Greek Orthodox Easter, which is usually different from Western Easter. Most carnival-related events are connected with the ancient worship of the Greek god of wine and divine intoxication, Dionysus. Already, the Carnival in the Greek city of Patras ranks in the top three carnival celebrations in the world, right after much better-known events in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro. In Corfu and Rethimno, Crete, the Greek apokria celebrations have absorbed a slightly Venetian flavor from the periods that the islands were under the control of Venice. In Thassos, travelers can still experience a non-commercial but very vibrant celebration, and there are dozens of others on other islands and on the Greek mainland.

In Greece, Carnival is called "Apokries"; it consists of two weeks of feast, beginning from the Sunday of Meat Fare and ends with the start of Lent, called "Clean Monday" (Kathari Deutera). Everyone is costumed and party in the streets and bars, throwing colored confetti one to another.
The most famous Carnival parade takes place in the city of Patra, where everybody dance and drink all night and day. This custom is believed to come from paganism, and more precisely from the old festivities worshiping Dionysus, the god of wine and feast. orget "Fat Tuesday" but enjoy "Burnt Thursday" "Burnt Thursday" or Tsiknopempti is celebrated eleven days before the start of Lent. The "Burnt" part refers to the grilling of meats, a big part of the celebration of this day. The weekend following "Burnt Thursday" will also have parties and other events; technically, that Sunday is the last allowable day for eating meat and is sometimes called "Meat-eating Sunday". The best Greek restaurants will be crowded on this day! The most vigorous party is on the weekend prior to the end of the Carnival season. This is followed by Clean Monday or "Ash Monday", a generally family-oriented day where, in Athens, picnics and kite-flying prevail. "Clean Monday" is the last day of Carnival for the Greeks. "Fat Tuesday" does not exist in Greece - Burnt Thursday is its closest parallel.

The opening ceremony is the starting-point of the events and as an invitation to the people of Patra to take an active part in it. The visitors have the opportunity to participate in events such as IDOMATA, BOURBOULIA, MOONS, BABY RALLY, and the NIGHT PARADE on the eve of the last Sunday.
On the second Thursday of the Carnival - Tsiknopempti - and for four days and nights, more than 30,000 people take part in Carnival celebrations most of whom are active members of the Treasure Hunt, while more than 300,000 people have the opportunity to have fun watching the parades, dancing and singing.In the evening of the last Sunday of the Carnival, the Carnival King is called upon to bid farewell to his subjects and to arrange a date for next year.The customary meeting of all crew on the central quay of the harbor, the announcement of the winners of the Treasure Hunt, the Farewell of the Carnival King, the endless dancing and the astonishing fireworks are unforgettable memories for the visitors.Patra has been established as a center of carnival happenings. It is really worth being here during these happenings and feel the atmosphere of the festival, which gradually climaxes with dances, competitions and festivities.
The whole city participates in these fantastic carnivals until it reaches it's peak. The phantasmagorical carnival parade, which parades through the city on the last Sunday of carnival. The main features of the very event in recent years, have been the high spirit of the carnival, the oath of participation and the decoration of the city center, as well as the first official appearance of the carnival Queen and the Carnival train which leaves Athens and passes through many other cities.
The BOURBOULIA, together with the Treasure Hunt, are the oldest (1872 aprox.) and most popular events of the Patra Carnival. All residents of the area with other merrymakers from all over Greece or abroad participate in the fun. The fact that, in the old times, women couldn't go out at night and have fun during Carnival Celebrations. The BOURBOULIA, gave the women the opportunity of participating in this Carnival Ball. They had to wear black dominos (a kind of black dress with a hood) as well as a mask, while men were uncovered and normally dressed.By this way, women couldn't be recognized, they had the opportunity to enjoy the Carnival Flirtation. Of course, nowadays, things have changed, but the BOURBOULIA Ball, still keeps its enchanting spirit. The attention of all party-goers is turned to the symbol of the Greek Mardi Gras during this pre- Lenten season. The Patra Carnival is one of the most important events not only in the city's own area, but in the country as a whole.


  1. Greece’s 4th biggest city has just launched a planet-wide internet channel to show off the biggest event of the year – a first for any city in the world!

    The Patras Carnival is the largest such event in Greece and one of the biggest carnivals in Europe with more than 160 years of history.

    Our carnival is not a single event but a variety of events that includes balls, parades, treasure hunt game, kids’ carnival and more.

    The high point is the last weekend (5th and 6th of March) with the Saturday evening parade of carnival groups, the extravagant Sunday parade of floats and groups, and finally the ritual burning of King Carnival at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf in the harbour of Patras.

    This year an enlightened organization committee the PCPWME * are pleased to announce a WORLD WIDE FIRST – an initiative that will allow anyone with access to the internet across our whole planet to watch and join in the festivities.

    The Patras Carnival web channel is already broadcasting extracts of older and more recent Carnival events.

    Friends of the carnival will be informed about the activities of the carnival from the Carnival Press news channels on the site, culminating in three internet LIVE broadcasted carnival events:

    Don’t miss!!!

  2. Thank you so much for all this information! it is nice to get feedback and extra details. I appreciate the addition!