We’ve popped the cork on a holiday made for fans of the fizz – a trip to the Limassol Wine Festival in southern Cyprus. It’s been a closely guarded secret for over 55 years, with locals keeping well and truly schtum. And it’s no surprise. There are over 100 wines to glug, a chance to get knee-deep in grapes, and a stand-out entertainment programme that’s ripe for the picking.
Best of the bunch
There are gods of love, gods of fertility, and – wait for it – Dionysus, the goddess of wine. Yes, really. Every year, the Limassol locals hold the festival in her honour – she’s a pretty big deal, obviously. Such a big a deal, in fact, that 100,000 wine-guzzlers come to pay tribute (and get tipsy) every year. Fancy it? The 11-day party kicks off from the 30th of September to the 9th of October, and you can drop in anytime between 7pm and 11pm at the Limassol Municipal Gardens. But what exactly are you raising a glass to?
Go from taster to taster
Check out the festival, and you’ll be wined and vined by four of Cyprus’ biggest wineries, plus a fresh bunch of independent producers. Pay a small entry fee of €6 and refill your glass at no extra cost throughout. It’s like happy hour, but for several hours. You’ll also get the chance to swill, spit and pick your favourite wines from some of the best suppliers in Europe. We’ll cheers to that.
Top up your glass with tradition
It’s not all about the wine, though. Get fizz-ical and dance to traditional Cypriot songs from live bands and local musicians while soaking up the bubbly atmosphere. Or, if theatre shows, storytelling and magicians are more your cup of tea glass of wine, there are plenty of those to sip on, too. Got kids? Take them to one of several shows specifically for little ones, and get ready to “ooh and aah” at the show-stopping firework display that marks the end of the festival every night.
Stick your fork into local delicacies
When it’s time to line your stomach, fill up your plate with traditional faves like smoked herring, loukoumades (think profiteroles without the cream), halloumi and hummus at the taverna-style eateries. It’s all pretty reasonably priced, and it’s perfectly accompanied by a glass of red, too. Or, if you fancy going further afield, the festival is right on the seafront, so you can work up an appetite with a walk down the 11-kilometre beachfront, and eat at one of Limassol’s local restaurants instead – there are loads to choose from.
Get grapes between your toes
Don’t take your bottle of plonk for granted – get to grips with the traditional way of wine-making. Lose your shoes, jump in a huge vat of grapes and get stomping. Kids are also welcome to join in, and there’s a separate session just for little ones. If you’re swayed by all the traditional activities on offer, why not check out all the history that’s just around the corner? Paphos is a 45-minute drive from Limassol and offers up a UNESCO-listed fort, a Roman amphitheatre and the Tombs of the Kings.