When it comes to foodie festivals, the lion’s share on the island belongs to the communities of the Troodos Mountain Range. As a lover of Cypriot cuisine, I really enjoy visiting the different festivals so that I can pick up the best quality products from the parts of the island that really excel in producing them. Each festival features a folkloric entertainment programme and is always with free admission!
Autumn is harvest time, and a host of festivals mark the occasion and make good use of the glut of crops. Please note that whilst the month is fixed, the dates change annually depending on what date the weekend falls on.
Grape Feast Festival – Wine Villages – September-October
As the festival title indicates, this is an event that is ‘everything grape’! And in Cyprus, there are many ways that grapes are used, aside from wine. In particular, sticky, delicious desserts! One of the interesting elements of the Grape Fest Festival is that it takes place in different villages of the Troodos wine villages each year, each as equally enthusiastic about their tradition as the other. The 2021 festival marks 75 years of celebration – quite incredible when you consider that many of the foodie festivals are still relatively new. This is a long festival, taking place across September and October. Visitors can enjoy a rich programme of entertainment and discover the authenticity of each village and its monuments. The grape delicacies I particularly look out for are shoushoukos (chewy grape must sweet with nut in the middle) and the more pudding-like palouzes (grape must jelly).
Apple Festival – Kyperounta Village – October
The juiciest apples on the island grow in Kyperounda! A two-day festival takes place towards the end of September and showcases all the ways in which apples can be used, from juice and pies to therapeutic apple cider vinegar (one of my top purchases at the festival). There are actually multiple apple varieties that grow on the island and you can find out about them at the open-air market where apples in all shades of green, red and yellow are piled up high. There is also an annual apple pie baking contest (and who doesn’t love a good apple pie?). As a side note, if you visit a bakery on the island, Cypriot apple pies tend to be more of a turnover with crispy pastry rather than a deep crust pie.
Zivania Festival – Alona & Pelendri Villages – November
Cyprus’ potent, national spirit Zivania (typically 45% proof and up) is made in the villages of Alona and Pelendri by mixing grape pomace (all parts of the grape and its stalk) with indigenous wines in a special cauldron. It is also a designated product of Cyprus (since 2004), and as such, both villages celebrate their proud tradition on two consecutive weekends in November. Visitors can watch the Zivania distillation process and tour the local sights of the villages, as well as enjoy a programme of folkloric entertainment and kiosks of local products. In olden days, Zivania was an important product for the villagers in the mountain communities as it kept them warm in the cold, snowy winter months – used as a tonic or even a body and throat rub to ward off colds and flu, or to ease sore muscles.