Experiencing Carnival in Calabria, events and traditions

Top 6 Carnival sitesin Calabria: programme, traditions and folklore

© Regione Calabria

Tradition and folklore

Wondering what to do at Carnival in Calabria? You'll be spoilt for choice!

The Calabrian Carnival is one of the most eagerly awaited moments for young and old, since it boasts ancient traditions and local masks, some important historical carnivals, such as the Carnival of Castrovillari, and a series of side events that ensure fun for everyone.

Here are the 6 not-to-be-missed events of the Carnival in Calabria!

Carnival in Calabria: history, masks and traditions

Carnival in Calabria has always been one of the most festive periods of the year, linked to ancient local traditions and a kind of pagan, Mediterranean folklore.

Are you wondering what the Carnival mask of Calabria is? The Calabrian mask par excellence is Giangurgolo, a mask from the "commedia dell'arte" with very precise characteristics, which on closer inspection reflect those of all Calabrians in a goliardic way: a big talker, greedy and always hungry.

It seems that the mask originated in Catanzaro, from a character who really existed in the 16th century, a certain "Gianni l'ingordo" (hence Giangùrgolo), and then spread successfully throughout the region and in the national "commedia dell'arte", where he appears among the main masks.

What are the main Carnival traditions in Calabria? Obviously, the colourful parades of allegorical floats, which can be enjoyed from north to south, accompanied by musical events, prize-giving ceremonies and the inevitable tasting of typical Carnival sweets in Calabria, such as the Calabrian pignolata di Carnevale (locally known as turdìlli), the ever-present chiacchiere and castagnole and graviuòli and the very old chjina (short pastry filled with dried fruit).

Accademia dei Caccuriani

Carnival holidays in Calabria: what to see and do

Here are the top 6 places to spend the Carnival holidays in Calabria and the related historical carnivals (for the complete programme of each initiative, please refer to the official websites):

1. Carnival of Castrovillari (CS)

The city of Castrovillari, in the Pollino National Park, in the province of Cosenza, is known as the "Carnival City" because of the historic Carnival of Castrovillari. Founded in 1959 as the International Folklore Festival, this lively kermis today represents the most famous and important Carnival in Calabria, among the region's historic events.

2. Carnival of Alessandria del Carretto (CS)

Have you ever heard of the beautiful and ugly Pulicinelli? They are the traditional masks of the Carnival of Alessandria del Carretto, one of the most peculiar carnival festivals in Calabria. A true ritual, this Carnival makes use of an ancient pagan masquerade that evokes the struggle between order and disorder, death and rebirth.

3. Carnival of Amantea (CS)

Also in the province of Cosenza, the Carnival of Amantea (or Carnival of the Tyrrhenian Sea), in the coastal town of the same name, offers the possibility of combining the festivities and participation in the parades of allegorical floats with the beauty of the ancient village by the sea, which looks out over the Riviera degli Oleandri and the Regional Marine Park "Scogli di Isca".

4. Carnival in Malvito (CS)

Moving a little further afield, we encounter the Carnival in Malvito, another heartfelt appointment with masquerades in the province of Cosenza. The parade of allegorical floats will liven up the streets of the town, as usual, until the final prize-giving ceremony.

5. Aiellese Carnival (CS)

The Aiellese Carnival, in Aiello Calabro, offers a great celebration for children, with parades, street games and traditional sweets.

6. Gran Carnevale Cittanovese (RC)

Carnival in Calabria also passes through Cittanova, in the province of Reggio Calabria, where the Gran Carnevale Cittanovese celebrations involve adults and children alike in an event full of floats, masked groups, music and DJ sets.

Regione Calabria


Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 14, 2024 10:30 AM