Thousands of revelers thronged the streets of the western Greek town of Patras on Sunday, joining in on the colorful annual ritual of Carnival time. Patras’ renowned carnival will come to a head next Sunday, with an enormous parade featuring yet more floats and marching bands.
Police estimate that over 12,000 people gathered in the town’s center on Sunday to watch a spectacular display of color and sound created by dozens of teams and bands, including some from primary and secondary schools.
The Patras Carnival is the largest event of its kind in Greece, and one of the biggest in Europe. It has more than 180 years of history.
Carnival is not a single event, but a wide range of festivities, including balls, parades, hunts for hidden treasure and a separate children’s carnival, amongst others.
All the pre-Lenten events come to a climax in the last weekend of Carnival, with the Saturday evening parade of carnival groups, and the even more extravagant Sunday parade featuring floats and marching groups.
At the very end of the festivities comes the ritual burning of the carnival king at the St. Nikolaos Street pier in the harbor of Patras.
The themes and overall spirit of the Carnival are spontaneity, improvisation, inspiration and volunteerism.