Crete kicks off carnival season
Rethymnon kicks off the holiday season early.
The island of Crete likes to party early and kicks off each holiday season with a three-week street carnival in the run-up to Lent.
The city on the north coast of Crete is packed with colourful parades and impromptu street parties in a celebration that has been running now for more than 100 years.
The Rethmynon street carnival is a major event in the Crete calendar and tempts thousands of foreign visitors to book their holidays early and cash in on some great early Crete holiday deals.
More than 3,000 foreign visitors book up in local hotels to enjoy the carnival atmosphere and the numbers grow every year as the party gets bigger and bigger.
Rethymnon city dwellers insist their carnival is like no other in the whole of Greece with 'teams' dressed in costume competing with each other to put on the best show and win the most prizes over the full three weeks.
Attractions include, traditional and modern music and dancing, street theatre, endless street parties and dozens of events for the children.
One of the highlights is the famous Rethymnon hunt for hidden treasure in the streets of the old town and other is the Grand Parade that attracts thousands to see the colourful floats and to enjoy the bonfire on the beach afterwards.
The carnival is launched mid February with the treasure hunt and the fun goes on until Ash Monday with celebrations both in Rethymnon and in all the surrounding villages.
The Grand Parade of carnival floats snakes through Rethmynon on March 2nd but until then the streets are alive with open air parties thrown by the rival carnival teams and many other surprises that include the singing of traditional Cretan songs and a wild night parade through the city.
The carnival first began in 1915 with street parties and traditional dancing. As it got more popular each year carnival teams were formed to run and promote the festival.
Today more than 20 teams are expected to lead the fun, holding street parties, music and dance exhibitions and contests before they all get together for the Grand Parade, an event that attracts thousands of party-goers.