Cypriots love a good celebration and relish the opportunity to proudly present and share their unique traditions. The communities up high in the Troodos Mountain Range tend to specialise in a specific crop or a specialist food or drink product and organise themed festivals annually.
Festivals tend to follow a format of market stalls and product demonstrations with an evening programme of folkloric music and dance, and always with free admission. The sights of the villages are open for visitors to tour; sometimes with organised, guided tours.
Here are my next three favourite festivals leading into the autumn. Please note that whilst the month is fixed, the dates change annually depending on what date the weekend falls on.
Hazelnut Festival – Platanistasa Village – August
I am nuts about Cyprus nuts, which are best bought and consumed fresh and in their raw state, but I have to admit that I always associated the island with sweet almonds. And so it was a surprise to hear that hazelnuts are also a local crop and that it is Platanistasa village that grows them (the village that also grows cherries). Aside from fresh hazelnuts and hazelnut recipes, the event also incorporates walks through the hazelnut forest and visits to the village’s other attractions. One of my favourites is the Archangelos Michael Church. And of course, there is a programme of folkloric entertainment!
Preserved Sweets Festival – Kakopetria Village – September
Although a relatively new festival (first started in 2017), this is my favourite festival of all, given that I absolutely adore ‘glyka’ – spoon sweets, which are preserved, candied fruits and vegetables. Spoon sweets were given as wedding favours on a silver spoon in the olden days (hence the name) and make use of all the fruit or vegetable with candied rinds a strange but popular option. The festival (in the Solea Valley) takes place on one day, from morning to night, and aside from a programme of folkloric entertainment also features mountains of pretty jars with over 50 different types of spoon sweets (including nut sweets). This puts me in a very difficult position as I have to limit myself to choosing just five jars to take home, although I do not limit myself when it comes to the sampling at the festival!
Pastry & Baking Goods Festival – Galata Village – September
Another festival for the sweet-tooths among us is held in Galata village (Solea Valley) on one date in September in celebration of its baking tradition. The village has various flour mills and was always active in baking. During the morning there are organised tours and in the afternoon the festival begins at the village square where you can watch pastry making and traditional bread baking demonstrations, and of course, sample and buy an amazing array of baked goods. There are too many to list, but I can recommend taking home a round, crusty village bread (there is just something about it that no other bread can compete with) and boxes of piped biscuits filled with local apricot jam. And it goes without saying that I will enjoy another of my top Cypriot desserts whilst watching the folkloric entertainment – ‘loukoumades’, those honey donuts in syrup that I often write about!
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