Syros Carnival 2024
The Georgios Souris Carnival is definitely one of the highlights of the year in Syros and an integral part of the island’s identity. During a whole month, mirth, feasting and unique local customs flood the streets of Ermoupolis and the medieval alleys of Ano Syros, warming up the people’s hearts amid winter. This year marks the Carnival’s 40th year, and the program boasts a broad range of exciting events lasting from February 24th to March 19th.
Festivities will start with the annual Hidden Loukoumi Hunt, an interactive game that involves groups of participants of all ages exploring around and having the time of their lives. What lies in store for them is a plethora of surprises and funny or suspenseful situations, as well as a better understanding of the island’s multifaceted history.
Then, on the last day of February, a longstanding tradition revives as people get out on their balconies and drop on the streets whatever old clay vessels they may have in order to break the head of March! This is done to avert a cold and snowy month.
As the festival bears the name of a locally-born 19th-century satirical poet who was nominated 5 times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Carnival could not fail to honor him originally. Thus, his poems will be displayed on shop windows for over two weeks.
Other events include a competition for the best photos of the island’s quaint villages, fancy dress parties, a concert with the popular singer Christos Thivaios, and a hilarious stand-up comedy show.
However, no Carnival is complete without a parade, and Syros does not have one but two, on March 16th and 17th! The First Parade is opened by the Zeibekia, a satyrical war dance between male couples that tells the story of the kidnapping of a bride during Ottoman times. Merry-making reaches its climax on Sunday the 17th when people and floats will pour out on the streets of Ermoupolis.
Clean Monday, also known as the koulouma, marks the end of the carnival period and the beginning of Lent, the 40-day-long fast before Easter. This year it falls on March 18th, and it involves the customary kite flying in the countryside. Then, participants will have the chance to enjoy delicious Lenten dishes and plenty of traditional dancing and singing in various parts of Syros.
And just when it seems that Carnival has come to an end, festivities are resumed on the next day with the traditional burning of the Carnival King, a revival of the Catholic custom marking the start of Lent, as it is thought that the King will rise from his ashes and reign once again over the next Carnival.
For the very first time, this year there will also be a children’s festival with face painting, clowns on stilts, music, dancing, games, shadow plays and many more events. So, if you want to experience the carnival spirit in Greece, Syros is just the place for you!