CARNIVAL OF PATRAS
During Carnival season, the heart of Greece beats in the capital of the Achaea prefecture. Patras carnival is the most important and famous in Greece.
The celebrations open in January 17th and close in the last Sunday of the Carnival season with the burn of the King Carnival and the grand parade.
The carnival spirit then enters every Achaea house and changes the everyday life in Patras.
Patra is a unique festival of life during Carnival season. People form all over Greece and neighboring countries visit it in order to experience unique moments, full of colours and music.
The history of Patras Carnival dates back to the end of the 19th century. Since then it has managed to become one of the most important carnival celebrations in Europe.
The first reports about Patras Carnival date back to 1829. According to history, everything began at the house of the Moretis merchant where the first carnival dance was carried out.
From 1860 the carnival started to have its own feature. It was influenced by other carnivals and assimilated customs from different regions (ionic, Italian and Mediterranean), which later became inextricable parts of this carnival.
These are the features of Patras Carnival:
Around 1860 “boules” appeared in the streets of Patras town and signal the beginning of Carnival.
“Boules” put black smoke on their faces so that they won’t be recognized. They turned around the whole city teasing others.
They mostly teased the peculiar types of people in Patra. The Hidden Treasure game
It is the most important part of the Carnival and the parade. It begins after Saint Antonios name day, January 18th.
Thousands of masquerades take part in the games and various contests such as pantomime, dancing, theater, painting and carnival construction contests.
Children’s Big Parade
Every Asotos Sunday of the year thousands of small children parade disguised all around Patras. The band and the cheerleaders accompany kids in this very important parade.
The traditional feast at the penultimate Carnival Thursday in Tasi neighborhood and in Germanou Street. Many satiric customs relive at that day. There is plenty of wine, dainties and live music creating a unique atmosphere.
Bourboulia were established later and are now an inextricable part of the Carnival. They started as a spontaneous flock of people, who wanted to “refill” their batteries dancing till morning…
During Middle War, the actor Andreas Loverdos named the evening dances bourbouli (a dainty from boiling meat) beacause they needed almost no preparation. All they wore was a black domino for the ladies and a simple everyday cloth for the gentlemen.
Today, Bourboulia are organized at the last 15 days of Carnival season in the Municipal Theater “APOLLON”. Women in black dominos and masks rule over men. There is a free entrance to the ladies wearing a black domino.
They are carried out at the last Carnival week with Greek and foreign participations.
A Saturday before the last Carnival Sunday, thousands of participants in the Hidden Treasure game, run around the dark streets holding flambeaus and dancing.
The Grand Parade
The grand parade is carried out the last Carnival Sunday, one day before the First Monday of Lent. Patras, the Carnival Queen offers a magnificent show to all visitors. The parade with the impressive floats and the thousands participants impresses everyone.
The curtain drops with a magnificent celebration where King Carnival is being burnt. Thousands of fireworks flood the sky then.
Important Carnival dates.
In 1900 the first juvenile dances were organized.
In 1939 was organized one of the best ante-war carnivals. There were no celebrations during 1940-50.
In 1952 is established the existence of a Carnival Queen.
In 1966 is established the Hidden Treasure game. Until our days it is one of the most important celebrations.
In 1974 disguised people of all ages and social class participate in the Carnival.
In 1996 began the caricature and cartoon contest. A year later it became national. Children of all ages are allowed to participate in this contest.
For more information concerning the 2007 celebration program, please visit the official Patra’s Carnival site.