For a city rich in culture, history and legend, you can’t do much better than Paphos, a town on the south coast of Cyprus.
Even the city’s very foundations are shrouded in myth. According to Greek legend, the goddess Aphrodite was supposed to have been born nearby, at Petra tou Romiou – the reason it became a major site of worship to her.
Over the subsequent centuries, the city would grow and change, moving closer to the ocean as trade became more important. It would change hands a number of times, juggled between warring factions such as Venetians, French and Ottomans. The result, over three thousand years since it was founded, is a vibrant, colourful and sun-drenched sort of living museum, telling a very ancient story.
One of the wonderful things about life in Cyprus is that history and culture is not only set in stone. Rather, the fascinating stories of this sun-drenched island are woven into the festivals and cultural events held throughout the year.
With Paphos being declared European Capital of Culture in 2017, there’s no better time to come and live the myths and legends of Cyprus by taking part in their festivals. We’ve assembled a list of some of the best on offer.
Agia Paraskevi Traditional Fair
Held in honour of St Paraskevi across the entire island of Cyprus, time your visit right and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Paphos’ celebrations. Rather than a staid religious celebration, you’ll find music, dancing, stalls selling crafts and a general air of fun and frivolity. This year the festival falls on the 26th of July.
The inhabitants of Kallepia, a short drive from Paphos, think their village is very pretty. They think it’s so pretty, in fact, that every August, they hold a festival in honour of the area’s amazing natural beauty. Over time, people have begun to flock to the festival and for good reason – set against stunning views, there’s live music, plenty of dancing and lots of traditional Cypriot food and drink. Take a camera, as you’ll get some amazing shots. This year the festival runs from the 1st to 21st of August.
Paphos Beer Festival
Like many parts of the Mediterranean, the brewing of beer has a very long history on Cyprus. Every year, Paphos puts on a three-day festival celebrating this tradition and celebrates Cyprus’ best brews, set amongst the dramatic backdrop of Paphos’ medieval castle, This year the festival runs from the 4th to the 6th of August.
Wine is another famed Cypriot tradition. In fact, Cyprus has been identified as one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Close to Paphos, the village of Stroumbi holds dear to the ancient ways of winemaking and holds a celebration in honor of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine at the end of the summer. As always, the festival is marked by music and dancing, but you will also find representatives from wineries across the island with plenty of varieties for you to try. The dates of the festival vary, but usually take place in the last week of the month – ask your hosts for details.
Apollon International Arts Festival
From small beginnings, the Apollon International Arts Festival has become a sizable player in popularizing instrumental, classical and chamber music across the Mediterranean. With a number of performances across multiple venues, including the hotel Annabelle, there’s something for every taste. This year the festival takes place on October the 23rd.
We will continue to update this calendar as new events are announced. In the meanwhile, have you looked at our fantastic hotels near Paphos?