The Carnival in Heraklion (“Kastrini Apokria”) 2019 with… the treasure hunt, the great carnival parade, a lot of fun, the traditional Tsiknopempti and the unique flavours in all taverns and restaurants of Heraklion – A Carnival experience at the “heart” of Crete.
Carnival in Heraklion is a big colourful embrace! “Kastrini Apokria” is an excellent opportunity for locals and visitors to relax and to forget their hectic daily routine, to get carried away drinking raki in one of the small taverns at the alleys of Lakkos, to taste the exquisite seafood served at the restaurants of Agios Dimitrios and Agios Nikolaos squares in Nea Alikarnassos, to enjoy a sip of ouzo at the Central Market or to drink wine at the pedestrian roads by Agios Minas Cathedral. They may walk around the city centre and check out the ongoing urban regeneration works – Heraklion is undergoing impressive changes – or to blend in the vivid crowd of youngsters who walk around with their whistles in a colourful pandemonium! They may participate in the treasure hunt and look for the hidden treasure of the Great Castle. It is a chance to visit the Heraklion enceinte, its gates and galleries, to explore its Bastions, churches and fountains and enjoy the thrill of discovering during an urban escapade!
Every neighbourhood smells like our grandma’s kitchen and welcomes you with open arms! Locals and visitors will have the time of their lives during this quest for unique traditional Cretan tastes and dishes. Heraklion is an ideal destination during Carnival, an integrated approach to the festivities that captivates both locals and visitors. Thus, from Sunday, 17 February (first day of the Carnival period) until 11 March (Clean (Ash) Monday), all those who visit Heraklion will enjoy its festive vibe and appearance.
“Kastrini Apokria” is once again organised by the Heraklion Municipal Enterprise of Culture, Environment and Social Welfare and is featuring numerous events, all with free admission for the public.
On Sunday, 17 February, the Children’s Treasure Hunt marks the beginning of the carnival events. It will take place within the city centre with the participation of hundreds of action enthusiasts.
However, what is truly impressive is the Treasure Hunt for adults on Sunday, 24 February. Thousands of participants divided into numerous groups will try their best to solve the riddles created by the members of last year’s winning team. Throughout the whole day, this event will bring the thrill of participating, the passion and the action to all corners of the city. Heraklion is a city of lively people who, just like children do, never cease to long for the day that they would discover a hidden treasure left by the Venetians, The Arabs or the Ottomans…
And after the quest for the hidden treasure is over, it is BBQ time! On Tsiknopempti, in every alley and street of Heraklion we find BBQs. All visitors are welcome to grab a bite! Tsiknopempti (BBQ Thursday or literally Thursday of the Smoke of Grilled Meat or even Smelly Thursday) is the day on which tantalizing BBQ aromas drift through the streets of Heraklion and wine is pouring. You may also come across the famous Arkoudiarides (Bear-masters) from the village of Gergeri. Dressed in sheep’s skin, their faces painted black with soot and wearing sklaveria (goat bells), they make quite an impression. It is one more example of how Cretans are intrinsically connected to their traditions and rituals. On the same day (Thursday, 28 February – Tsiknopempti), in the afternoon, a music parade entitled “I run for the Carnival” will take place. The Municipal Philharmonic Orchestra of Heraklion, many other bands and thousands of people will walk parade through the city centre… in musical fashion!
The highlight of the events is on Sunday, 3 March with the Great Parade of Carnival Groups. The pedestrian road (25th August Street) will be full of people in their carnival costumes while spectacular floats of various carnival groups will be also parading! Children and adults from schools, associations, organizations, sport clubs and independent group of fun-loving people will use their imagination to give to all locals and visitors the party of their lives! A carefree, out of the ordinary, fun-to-be place for all those who seek relaxation and partying! Then the feast will continue in the various restaurants and taverns where everyone will be dining in their carnival costumes! Good food and fun come first on the day’s agenda!
On Clean (Ash) Monday, everyone will take off his or her carnival masks and costumes to get prepared for the Apokrigia (abstention from meat)… The Great Lent begins… and many locals visit the picturesque villages of the municipal area of Heraklion like Asites, Agios Myronas, Profitis Ilias, Venerato, Kerasa or Avgeniki in order spend this special day in the countryside, taste local dishes and good wine from local wineries. The local traditional cuisine at its best! Raw wild herbs seasoned with newly produced olive oil, pies with giahnera (various wild herbs), fried snails (boubouristoi) with rosemary and vinegar, snails cooked with giahnera (various wild herbs) will take your breath away‼
Thus, after the end of the Carnival and having tasted good wine with nice, openhearted people, the visitor of the Great Castle will return home full of images, flavours and aromas of a truly remarkable place…