The roots of the Carnival in Corfu can be found in the first centuries of Venetian rule.

During the carnival period, the Venetian nobles, together with some of the Corfiots of the upper class, began to organize small celebrations with fancy dresses in the salons of houses. The carnival gradually established itself as a wonderful celebration with great participation, spreading joy, laughter, and eroticism among the inhabitants. Other Venetian carnival customs were added, such as horse fighting (ghiostres), gambling, comedy performances in the San Giacomo theatre and a parade of masqueraders in fancy dress through the streets of the city. Casanova even took part in one of these carnivals, not as a masquerader but as a skilled gambler, as he wrote in his memoirs.

Carnival in Corfu is perhaps one of the most timeless references to the 4 centuries of Venetian protection.

In later years it changed its character and became much more popular. It was rare to see Venetian-inspired costumes in the streets or at a ball.

The glamorous Countesses, Harlequins and Dominoes have been replaced by floats with satirical themes, groups dressed as Disney heroes or inspired by modern reality, amazing dance groups of all ages, and cheerleaders unleashing their talents to fill the streets of the city with color, imagination, and joy!

The parades take place on the three Sundays of Carnival. They start at midday when the sun has warmed up the island’s humid climate.

The protagonist of all is Sir-Carnavalos.

His huge head dominates the last float of the parade as the parade passes through the city. Sir Carnavalos speaks incessantly, mocking, satirizing and provoking laughter.

Yet he also causes sadness because everyone knows he is going to be burned in the middle of the main square on the last Sunday.

During the three weeks of Carnival, many events are held in the town and in the countryside.

In the Old Town of Corfu, the famous Petegoletsa are the main attraction. They are sharp, comical and risqué gossip that takes place between residents from the windows of the most central neighborhood of the city.

Their dopey nature and content provoke laughter from viewers who watch the natural setting fanatically every year!

At the same time, the Krasodikio, the Treasure Hunt, the Hellenic Women’s Lyceum’s parades, the Tsiknopempti and many choral and musical events make up a rich program that entertains young and old! Among them, this year the group “dia tis Afis” impresses with the authentic handmade costumes made after their travels and the knowledge acquired in Venice by their creator.

All this happens in the old town, the ideal setting for Corfu’s wonderful carnival.

In the countryside and the villages, another series of events entertains the carnivalgoers. Events with roots in the pagan tradition of the ancient Greeks, Dionysian references and a mixture of Christian and pagan worship create a different atmosphere.

It is worth visiting the Dance of the Priests in the villages of Episkepsi, Nymphes and Klimatia to get a strong taste of Corfu Carnival in the countryside and also other events such as dances around the fire and much more.

Of the carnival festivities, let’s not forget Clean Monday, a day when the countryside is full of people, the sky is full of kites and the table is full of Lenten food. This is the official start of Lent before Orthodox Easter. It is worth visiting the seaside and country taverns after running to a sandy beach or field, flying a kite, and shouting Amola Kaluba.

Corfu, as the first city in Greece to dare to practice the carnival custom, is a city to visit during the carnival period. However, the carnival is only a short excuse, as touring the city and the countryside is an experience, offering the visitor this unique off-season pleasure and relaxation.

Find accommodation in Corfu for February and March here

Restaurants and Bars here

Museums and Culture here

And if you find yourself face to face with the King of Carnival on the streets of Corfu, shout out to Sir Carnavalos whooooo!!!
Text Composing: Αλίκη Κατσαρού
Photography: Φωτογραφίες για την ομάδα Δια της Αφής, Σταμάτης Καταπόδης
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