By Alexandros Achilleos
It’s that time of year again when the Municipal Gardens of Limassol will be full of cheerful people trying local wine and enjoying the Wine Festival under the cloud-free Cyprus sky.
This year we are celebrating the 54th Wine Festival, since it began back in 1961.
However, 1961 is merely the date when the festival started taking place in modern times. The roots of the Wine Festival go back many centuries, indeed this fiesta is a modern combination of different celebrations that took place in ancient times to honour Dionysos, the god of vine and wine, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. These were the gods who, according to tradition, were glorified by people who drank wine in their name.
During these celebrations, all the inhabitants of Attica in Greece, independent of their social status, sat together at common banquets offered for free by the state and enjoyed the new wine production. Then they all danced and enjoyed ancient Greek poetry and drama. An interesting fact is that, during these festivals, many slaves were also set free.
But that’s not all. The wine-making tradition of Cyprus is considered to be one of the oldest in the world. Cypriot wine has been renowned since Byzantine times. Many travellers and visitors to the island appreciated the taste of Cyprus’ wine, with an Italian visitor in the 16th century saying that “it possesses some healing qualities like a balm for the human organism”.
When the Wine Festival began back in 1961, it started as an event where people could drink the local wines while relaxing and enjoying the cultural activities taking place.
Today it is much more than that. It has become an institution in Cyprus and especially in the host city, Limassol, attracting around 15000 visitors, both locals and tourists, who want to sample and enjoy our local wines. People visit the Wine Festival to relax, drink their glass of Cypriot wine (although no-one sticks to only one glass) and be entertained by the many different events taking place in the Municipal Gardens.
On entering the gardens you can spot the traditional Cypriot worker, Vrakas, the symbol of the festival. Inside there are many pavilions representing local wine makers, ETKO, KEO, LOEL, SODAP, and LAONA offering wine to everyone.
And we all know that drinking needs some nibbling to accompany it, so if you get hungry there will be lots of food choices at low prices ranging from snacks and traditional bites to more filling food.
On the entertainment side, this year the festival promises to be even better than in previous years. During these 11 days, visitors can enjoy a variety of shows in four different areas inside the Limassol Municipal Gardens.
The Georgaletti choir, with 50 years of participation in the Wine Festival, and the famous Cypriot folk singer Michalis Tterlikkas will be just two of the musical names lending their presence to the event. Theatrical and dance groups will give their own shows to accompany your drink.
If you want to enjoy a summer night drinking one of our local wines, make sure to visit Limassol Municipal Gardens from August 27 until September 6.
And if you are afraid of drinking too much to drive, don’t be. There will be free transportation to and from the festival with air-conditioned buses!
Limassol Wine Festival 2015
Annual wine festival. August 27 until September 6. Limassol Municipal Gardens, 28th October Avenue, Limassol. 7pm-11pm. €6/5/3. Tel: 25-344402