Chinese artists join Greece's carnival-ending grand parade
CGTN

Thousands of revelers and spectators flooded the streets of Patras in western Greece on Sunday for an impressive parade marking the end of the three-week carnival season.

For over a century the city port, 220 kilometers west of Athens, has been considered the "king" of carnivals in Greece, hosting the country's largest and most vibrant carnival events.

This year a group of 25 artists from Beijing joined in the party at the invitation of city authorities.

Street dancers perform among a crowd of people gathering for the carnival at the Zappeion Mansion in central Athens, March 10, 2019. /Photo via Xinhua News Agency

Street dancers perform among a crowd of people gathering for the carnival at the Zappeion Mansion in central Athens, March 10, 2019. /Photo via Xinhua News Agency

Over 30 colorful floats satirized politicians, social trends and even economic woes.

Masqueraders of all ages divided into 130 different themed groups marched across the city center, inviting the crowd to join in the festivities.

"Patras carnival forever!" chanted Angela, a participant.

People dance in the street during the 10th Metaxoureio Carnival in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

People dance in the street during the 10th Metaxoureio Carnival in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Most of the revelers were locals who have been taking part in the parade since they were kids following a family tradition.

"It is a tradition for the past 30 years," Paulina told Xinhua, as she danced with her husband and two kids.

The Chinese artists performed dragon and lion dancing to the cheers of the crowd.

Participants in the carnival parade of Moscato in Athens, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Participants in the carnival parade of Moscato in Athens, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

"It was an honor, an amazing performance, unprecedented in our city. We got to know China's culture. We are grateful they came," Nikolaos Chrysovitsanos, president of the Municipal Public Benefit Company "Patras Carnival", told Xinhua.

Choreographer Li Yuntao, head of the Flying Dragons and Dancing Lions Team of Cuigezhuang Township of Chaoyang District of Beijing, said: "We are overwhelmed by the hospitality of the city and the event is well organized... This is our first time in Greece and we have been here for five days... Although I only know a little about Greek culture, I like it very much."

Patras Carnival has 187 years of history. According to locals, the tradition started in 1832 when a wealthy merchant trading with Venice held a masquerade ball in his villa.

 A car pulls a Chinese house during the carnival parade of Moscato in Athens, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

 A car pulls a Chinese house during the carnival parade of Moscato in Athens, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Gradually the entire city embraced the carnival idea and in 1910 the first carnival parade took place.

However, the Greek carnival is not just a copy of western carnival customs, organizers of Sunday's parade explained.

There is a strong link also to ancient Greek rituals honoring Dionysus, the god of wine and fun in Greek mythology, when people would dress up for the feast.

(Top Photo: People are seen playing music during the 10th Metaxoureio Carnival in Athens, Greece, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency