You will be forgiven for thinking that you have arrived in Venice by mistake if you visit Nafplion at the end of February. The city steeped in history dons its carnival attire to celebrate the last weekend before Lent each year with a phantasmagoric street celebration, Veneziano style.
Masked revellers, jugglers and harlequins dance to the Latin rhythms in two days of merriment and mirth that culminates in the ‘burning of the Carnival King’ on the Sunday evening. Street theatre, traditional music and frenetic fun are all part of what makes this festival such a wonderful experience.
But what does the carnival have to do with a small town in the Peloponnese region of Greece? Actually, quite a lot if you consider that the worship of Dionysus, god of wine and celebration, goes back to antiquity and has certainly left its mark on modern day Greece. Ever since the post-Christian era, devout followers have prepared for the forty- day fast before Easter by making the most of the lead up with excesses of eating, drinking and merrymaking.
The Venetian influence over the town of Nafplion, or Anapli as it is also known, can be seen not only in the majestic Palamidi Fortress which sits majestically on the hillside, but also in the traditions and influences on the townsfolk.
The Anapliotika Carnival is a chance to dress up in disguise, dance in the streets, wear beautiful costumes and exquisite face masks. It is an opportunity to let one’s hair down and enjoy the spontaneity of an age old tradition which continues to be enjoyed by young and old alike.
This year’s carnival takes place Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th of February and is just one more reason to visit the picturesque town of Nafplion and learn more about its fascinating past and vibrant present.