“Limassol” and “Festival” – they not only sound almost the same but are definitely made for each other! Throughout the year, Limassol is never without its bustling schedule of annual carnivals, religious and cultural events, wine, beer and grape festivals. It‘s not too hard to see why Limassol attracts many visitors in search of authentic cultural experiences. Their journey may even start in distinctive boutique style at Londa Hotel, standing on the Mediterranean edge yet always at the centre of Limassol cultural life.
The festival season hits its stride during the spring months. In 2018, some 450,000 Cyprus visitors arrived in May – up by more than 7 per cent in 2017 – and rising to nearly 540,000 in July and August (Cyprus Statistical Service). With around 14 per cent of visitors to the island heading to Limassol – and adding to its 154,000 local population – every event is sure to be brimming with energy and excitement.
Perfect for the annual Anthestiria Flower Festival, which celebrates the coming of spring and the “renewal of nature and life…”
Stunning display of fabulous floral creations
Dating back to Ancient Greece, the festival usually takes place over the 1st or 2nd weekend at the start of May, also known as Flower month. This is because Anthestiria comes from the Greek word “anthos” meaning “flower”, and is inspired by the ancient festival held in Athens in honour of Dionysus, Greek god of wine, fertility and pleasure, who was worshipped between 1,500 and 1,100 BC. The festival is also considered a celebration of “souls, plants and flowers” when man and nature are reborn.
Flower festivals, which feature exhibitions, flower markets and shows are held in a number of Cyprus cities, including Larnaca, Paphos and AgiaNapa. In Limassol the event is usually held in Germasogeia, only a five minutes drive north of Londa Hotel. The main event is an eye-popping parade of floats adorned in a stunning display of floral creations accompanied by a procession of even more fabulous, handheld flower displays.
Demonstrations of traditional rose water distillation
The floral theme continues with the opening of the 13th Rose Festival to be held over two weekends (11-12 and 18-19 May 2019) in Agros Village deep in the heart of the Pitsillia region. Some might know Pitsillia as the famous wine growing area of around 40 villages high up in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, east of Mount Olympus and historic home of the Greek gods.
But the naturally curious traveller will be intrigued to hear that Agros village is particularly famous for the cultivation of The ‘Rose of Damascus’ (Rosa damascene) or more popularly known as the “Damask Rose”. Its history dates back to the 12th century when a French soldier is said to have brought the rose from Syria during the 2nd Crusades. Its bushes can grow to more than two metres tall, producing 30-petalled flowers that can range in colour from light pink to light red.
Damask Rose also has a long history as an essential oil/skin moisturiser, and is still commonly used to produce rose fragrances, rose water and food flavouring. Recent research has also brought to light its potential health-giving role as an antioxidant, antibacterial and antimicrobial.
On each of the festival days, villagers will be rose collecting from early in the morning followed by a full day’s programme of traditional songs and dances. Other activities planned include, a rose drawing competition, tours of the village rose factories with demonstrations of traditional rose water distillation, and a display of village folklore traditions. Food and drink will be served from stalls, and rose products also available to buy.
Back on the historic Old Limassol city streets of Saripolou and Athenon another annual tradition takes place on Saturday 4th May – the Street Life Festival…
Frenetic explosion of exuberant creativity
More than 20,000 visitors are once again expected to witness a non-stop, frenetic explosion of exuberant creativity from nine in the morning until the early evening. Buildings, sidewalks and other public areas will become a living canvas and inspiration for many artists from around the world.
Now in its 12th year, Limassol’s biggest festival always aims to offer a “funky and alternative twist”, which brings people together among the artistic urban possibilities often expressed in various other European cities. Expect to be amazed by a relentless parade of mind-stretching dance routines, impossible skateboard acrobatics, and a host of colourful jugglers and crazy street performers. A street market of over 50 different stalls will be offering fantastic displays of handmade jewellery, handcrafts, games, dog accessories, furniture and much more to irresistibly catch the eye.
So Limassol’s festival season is truly underway! There are many long summer months to come, filled with wine, beer, music, film, art, theatre and opera. In their quest for a more personalised, immersive and above all, authentic experience, the culturally adventurous holidaymaker can look forward to the memorable and insightful, Limassol-style, in 2019.
And here at the Londa blog, we’ll be keeping you up to date with some of the best in true boutique style.