The Renaissance Festival
Since 1987 the famous Renaissance Festival has been organised by the Municipality of Rethymno every summer. As both the architecture and the literature of the Renaissance served as a pedestal for the development of the town of Rethymno, it was normal that the town should became the main sponsor of a variety of events aiming at the promotion of both the Cretan and European Renaissance. Over the course of the years, all the works of Cretan playwrights have been staged, as well as a large number of plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Goldoni and others. Furthermore, musicians from all over the world have come to Rethymno to play music, starting from the period of the Renaissance to the modern times. There were “Comedia del arte” performances in the narrow streets and alleys of the old town. Dancing performances, art exhibitions, speeches and films are also included in the festive activities. Almost all the performances take place in the “Erofili” Theatre of the Fortress. Walking to “Fortezza” in a summer evening to enjoy a theatre performance or a music concert is a blissful experience.
The Cretan Wine Festival
In the coolness of the Municipal Garden, the “Travelling Club” of Rethymnoorganises the Cretan Wine Festival each summer. A rich programme including traditional Cretan and Greek folklore music groups is offered, thus illustrating the Greek way of entertainment every evening to the large number of local and foreign visitors. Wine is abundantly consumed since it is free. The visitor will find choices of wine from the largest wine producing companies of Crete, and he is given the opportunity to try almost all the flavours and varieties of the famous Cretan wines.
Carnival in Rethymno
The town of Rethymnoorganises the greatest carnival parade on the island of Crete and one of the most impressive of Greece. It is worth mentioning that apart from the magnificent parade, various other events take place in the framework of the carnival festivities.
On Shrove Thursday a street party is organised at Platanos Square and at the Church “MikriPanagia”, with live music for everyone’s taste, as well as titbits and wine. All the locals look forward to the event, as it has developed into the largest open-air party the town has ever organized. On the Sunday before the great parade, a party is organised for the participating groups. Of course, the party, which includes plenty of food, wine and dancing, continues until the early hours of the morning. On Shrove Friday, two days before the actual Carnival parade, one gets a first impression of what it will be like, as the parade goes through the streets of the town at night. More than 4.000 people work feverishly for months in order to present their masks and carriages on the great Carnival parade. Shrove Monday in the picturesque villages of the Prefecture of Rethymno: Revival of traditions and customs in picturesque villages of the Prefecture of Rethymno challenges and invites everybody to experience an unforgettable Shrove Monday. The villages of Meronas at the foot of Mount Psiloritis and of Melidoni welcome hundreds of aficionados of the old customs, including Carnival games, happenings and satires. Customs like the “kidnapping of the bride” and the “Kantis” (the smudging of people, in combination with good wine and Cretan music) offer a unique experience.
The Treasure Hunt
The most popular organisation in respect of participation is the Treasure Hunt of Rethymno. It is the favourite game of the locals of all ages and takes place two weeks before Carnival. During this marathon game, which lasts for one day, your brain, your body and your nerves are tested. The grade of difficulty has reached an unbelievable level, which makes it almost impossible for somebody who is not initiated to take part. However, it is a great experience to watch a group in action. The Treasure Hunt helped the young people of Rethymno to achieve a profound knowledge of the town’s history, to come close to its monuments and to trace every single detail of historical periods. It is worth mentioning that the way the players accomplish a task in this game has become an invariable component. A similarly important event is the “Children’s Treasure Hunt”, which takes place a week earlier.