LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2012) - The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has recently reported a 31% rise in domestic tourism, with a 4.6% increase in tourist arrivals from outside the country1. Events such as European Cultural Winter, Cyprus Fashion Week and Agia Napa/Paralimni Cultural Winter have clearly given tourism a big boost. These figures look set to rise even further next year, with preparations and planning already underway for the New Year International Regatta, the Cyprus Sunshine Cup and - perhaps most anticipated of all - Limassol's Carnival.
The Carnival consists of 11 days of events and festivities and is held in Limassol every year towards the end of February. Local folklore dictates that the carnival tradition dates back thousands of years to the time of the Ancient Greek deity Dionysus, god of winemaking. The festival begins 10 days before Lent on the Thursday of Kreatini - or 'Stinky Thursday' as it is sometimes more affectionately known - with the Carnival King's Parade.
The first week of the event is known as Meat Week (Kreatini), as it is the last week before Lent in which meat products can be consumed, allowing festival goers to sample some great examples of Mediterranean food. The first week also sees the children's parade, which paves the way for the Serenaders' shows, traditional dancing, fancy-dress competitions and parties during Tyrini, the second week of the festival - otherwise known as Cheese Week, as cheese and other dairy products may still be consumed.
The climax of Carnival happens on the last Sunday of the event with the Grand Carnival Parade. This year's parade saw hundreds of clowns, pirates, geishas and sumo wrestlers singing and dancing their way through the packed streets of Limassol to live music alongside elaborate, colourful floats. This closing parade is the main attraction to foreign tourists due to its spectacular size and displays.
Next year's parade looks set to be just as remarkable and - with increasing numbers of people choosing Cyprus as a holiday destination - even more popular than last year. Most events at Carnival are free, making it a great opportunity to sample a different culture and to experience a truly traditional festival alongside people from all over the world.
Get into the carnival spirit with Monarch - flights to Cyprus are available from just £54 with Monarch, departing from London Gatwick, London Luton, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds/Bradford. To find out more about scheduled flights to this and many other top destinations around the world visit monarch.co.uk.