‘Last year we had more than 200,000 visitors in the 50-something days we were open,’ says tiny Fikardou

With the sun still shining in Cyprus, it may not feel like Christmas is approaching. But in communities across the island, organisers have opened the annual Christmas Villages, ready to embrace the holiday spirit.

For days, volunteers have been hanging Christmas lights, setting up stalls and preparing for the festive celebrations as the seven Christmas villages, promoted by the deputy ministry of tourism, have been constructed around the country.

After booming popularity last year, this year has a new addition with Laiki Yitonia (Nicosia’s old town) and the ones from last year in Agros, Dherynia, Fikardou, Kalopanayiotis, Kyperounta and Lefkara.

“Last year we had more than 200,000 visitors in the 50-something days we were open. I don’t think we can handle more people, it’s a small village with small roads,” said community leader Christos Tirimos of Fikardou, a World Heritage site, after a peak success in 2022.

from last year's christmas festivities in fikardou

From last year’s Christmas festivities in Fikardou

Popular with locals and tourists alike, the idea behind the villages is to breathe new life into parts of the country, as many villages now rush to boast their own attractions and lure in the festive-hungry visitors.

Lefkara’s mayor Sofoklis Sofokleous expresses his belief that this year in the Larnaca village will be “an unforgettable experience”.

Reflecting on what is on offer beyond the countless food and gift stalls and songs, children’s play areas and merry lights, Sofokleous shares it will “be an oasis in a desert of the problems that people are facing”.

Something happy to look forward to, the mayor says Lefkara can promise unforgettable memories “in one of the nicest villages in the world”.

He suggests attendees may be surprised with perhaps the two largest Christmas trees in the country, spanning up to around 30 metres high.

Nicosia’s municipality says that although Laiki Yitonia, with its many shops housed in traditional buildings, is only a few metres away from the heart of the capital’s bustling centre the area offers “a unique environment, unaffected by the urban rhythms of the surrounding area”.

With a large number of visitors expected to attend, the municipality also highlights that every Friday, the Christmas Village bar will offer many events including open mic-stand-up comedy, retro music but also activities throughout the week for children and adults alike, including traditional workshops, theatre and dance.

For Dherynia, known for its strawberry produce, mayor Andros Karayiannis explains its trademark red fruit will once again be front and centre. “People will be surprised but we have strawberries all-year round. The best strawberries!”

The theme this year will be bigger and better, with more stalls, a revamped play area for children and a vast array of food and drink samples.

Organisers are also coordinating with schools to offer trips for students that and keep sellers busy selling beverages like mulled wine (adults only!), hot chocolate, chestnuts and cotton candy.

father christmas in kyperounda

Father Christmas in Kyperounda

Konstantinos Konstantinou from the Kyperounda community council said that treasure hunts are being organised and special features are being built including an elf house and Santa’s home.

“Year after year there’s more interest, it creates such a warm atmosphere in the community.”

Whether it rains or not, people still turn up in swarms, Konstantinou said, remembering how things went last year. “Kyperounda will be the Christmas village at the highest point in the country.”

In Agros, famous for its rose products, the flavour will feature prominently in liquors, chocolates and skincare products, as the village prepares to be swarming with people enjoying the host of workshops and music events, while in Kalopanayiotis, the old winding streets and the Venetian bridge will take on new life and the fairy lights will make the village brighter. Street performers will also be working their magic.

Christmas villages opened November 25 or 26 until January 14. The public should check the schedule https://www.visitcyprus.com/index.php/en/christmas-villages or the villages’ Facebook pages for opening hours. Some Christmas villages will only operate weekends for the first few weeks.

the winding streets in kalopanayiotis lit up for christmas

The winding streets in Kalopanayiotis lit up for Christmas