Coming up this week, the 2023 Kataklysmos (Flood) Festival hits Cyprus in towns and cities across the island.
From Larnaca, Limassol, Paphos, Paralimni, Ayia Napa and beyond, tourists and local islanders mingle in June for games and frolic on one of the world’s most coveted island paradises.
Running from this Friday June 2nd to June 7th, the Greek myth of Defkalion and Pyrra comes to life as the biblical flood becomes a flood of fun and festive Summer wonderment across Cyprus. For those who are visiting, don’t be surprised if this Monday you are all wet, the tradition is to soak everyone in sight!
The day also marks the day of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) with celebrations including concerts, various games, performances of folk dances, swimming competitions, boat races and competitions of popular songs known as “tsattista”.
Nowadays, the largest Kataklysmos Fair on the island is organized in Larnaca with the highest number of visitors, artists and peddlers. It is still held on the central coastal front of the city, along the Foinikoudes – Palm Tree promenade, starting from the Large Pier (the Marina) and stretching all the way to the Medieval Castle.
The Larnaca Kataklysmos Fair is documented since the 19th century and takes place fifty days following Easter and includes the Friday preceding All Souls’ Day, All Soul’s Day or the day before Whit Sunday or Pentecost, Pentecost, Monday of the Holy Spirit (Whit Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday, known as “Kataklysmos” days (days of the flood) from the custom of sprinkling each other with water.
Today, the Kataklysmos Fair includes artistic events, a trade-fête and various other happenings associated with the feast. Parallel to the religious events on All Souls’ Day, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday or Monday of the Holy Spirit, a rich programme of celebrations is planned lasting six days and including competitions of traditional Cypriot folk poetry, love songs, oral poetic duelling known as “tsiattista”, traditional flute players and dancers. The traditional Cyprus dance competitions and the sailing, swimming, volley-ball, children’s song and amateur singer competitions are also important parts of the festival. The fête programme is completed with various entertainment programmes, folk music concerts, dance performances, satire and mimes, musical theatre performances, conjuring and juggling shows, children’s theatrical performances and “Karaghiozis” shadow theatre festival.
For the inhabitants of Larnaca as well as the Famagusta district, Kataklysmos is the most important social event and the greatest traditional, religious and folk festival. It also acts as a platform for spontaneous presentation of features pertaining to the Cypriot folk tradition.