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Carnival time on Crete

- by Dabs Banner

Rethymnon kicks off the 2014 holiday season.

The Crete resort city of Rethymnon kicks off the holiday season this year with its 100th street carnival over the three weeks leading up to Lent.

The colourful parades and street party atmosphere help pull in early holiday arrivals to the Crete resort with the help of travel agencies currently offering cheap holiday package deals to Crete.

The city carnival brings in around 3,000 foreign visitors to enjoy the carnival atmosphere and city authorities hope the centenary celebrations will attract record numbers this year.

Rethymno claims to celebrate their carnival like no other city in Greece with parades and parties all over the city for a full three weeks.

Attractions include a Grand Parade of floats, traditional and modern music events and theatrical performances, street parties and children's events.

TheRethymno 'Treasure Hunt' is famous throughout the Greek islands and the Grand Parade is expected to attract thousands of happy paraders.

Events kick off on February 15th with the hunt for hidden treasure in the Old Town and they don't stop until March 3rd with Ash Monday celebrations both in Rethymon and in the surrounding villages.

The highlight though is the Grand Parade of carnival floats on March 2nd which starts at Kountourioti Avenue at Theodokopoulou crossing and ends with a bonfire on the Old Town beach.

In between are dancing and masquerades all over the city with open air parties thrown by the carnival teams with many activities and surprises including performances of traditional Cretan serenades (Kantades) and a traditional 'Night Parade' through the city of Rethymnon.

It all adds up to one of the most noisy and colourful pageants in the Greek islands and a great way for holidaymakers to kick off the 2014 holiday season.

The history of the carnival dates back to 1915 with the first street performances of traditional dancing. The custom of hunting for hidden treasure started in the 1990s and prompted the rise of 'teams' to compete in various events.

In 1993 the carnival teams were invited to take over the running of the carnival and since then it has gone from strength to strength and is now the most popular carnival in Crete.

Today more than 20 teams take part in organising street parties, music and dancing before linking up to join the Grand Parade through the centre of the city, an even that attracts party-goers in their thousands.