For the Cretan culture, the carnival celebration has never been highly rated. It is not more than 30 years that carnival celebrations have started to become a trend for the Cretan population. Everything really started from the city of Rethymnon (one of the four big cities of the island).
From the beginning of the 20th century, circa 1914, the first signs of celebrations made their appearance. A long chariot, with a very big mandolin on it, and the king of the festival, with its crown on, marching around the city. It was then in the ’60s, when the scouting club with the assistance of the municipal authority, made true the first organized carnival of the city. Many chariots and different theme teams participated in the parade.
Slowly but steadily after that, the carnival becomes “constitution” for the city of Rethymnon. Every year more and more people participate, but even more, people visit the city to take part in this big celebration.
As the years passed more cities tried to imitate. A city very close to Heraklion called Malia, is also organizing a carnival, which is quit recognizable on the island, and tends to become even more to the rest of Greece. Many small cities on the island tend to start carnival celebrations every year. Numbers show that every year the participants and the visitors tend to multiply.
The carnival, especially in Rethymnon offers a great opportunity to the visitor, to visit the beautiful island of Crete during a period where the island is not very crowded. It is also a good chance to taste nice food, traditional recipes, tour around the beauties of Crete, and interact with the locals in a more silent and quiet atmosphere. Rethymnon is the perfect destination for those who love adventure and the things one can do and see are endless. Take part in Carnival preparations, visit cultural treasures such as Fortezza, the Arkadi Monastery, and the Eleftherna Museum and discover hidden treasures, such as the Mill of the Canyon. Your days at Rethymnon Carnival can be as complete as you choose.
How to visit…
If you wish to visit Rethymno, there are multiple ways to do that. If you are short on money there are almost daily routes living Piraeus and arriving Rethymno early in the morning. The tickets are cheap, and despite it is a 10 hours trip, the “adventure” really pays back. Additionally, there are daily routes to Heraklion with fewer hours of journey, and by your arrival, you may either use the public transportation means, or rent a vehicle, preferably from Motor Club, and be in Rethymnon, or Malia, in less than an hour.
Still you have the option to travel by plane from Athens or from where ever you might be and come to Heraklion. It is definitely not the cheapest solution; nevertheless, it is the most comfortable.
Participating in a carnival it is definitely a lifetime experience. Don’t expect to see Rio in the Mediterranean, but the soul and the will that the organization committees’ show and the crazy temperament of the locals will offer to each and every one an experience that you shall remember for a lifetime.
So… do not lose any more time, put on your best cοstume, and this year is time to party…