There are Sardinia events held all across this second largest of all the islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Festivals are abundant throughout the year and there is a general atmosphere of celebration, especially around the coastal areas since the tourism industry has infiltrated the island to such a great extent. If you are planning to travel to Sardinia you will find much of the same exquisite food that you would otherwise find on mainland Italy, as well as world class shopping, entertainment, resorts, and hotels. If you want to explore some of the more distinctive features of this large island in the Mediterranean beyond the usual tourist destinations, there are many events in Sardinia that are both unique and alluring.
The observance of Carnival in Sardinia begins on January 16th with Sant’Antonio Abate’s celebration and ends the following Ash Wednesday. The recognized and official celebrations take place on Shrove Tuesday and the Thursday prior to Lent, but more traditional festivities go on for the duration of the week. Of all Sardinia events, Carnival is perhaps the most important to the local population. Villages and towns from Alghero to Olbia celebrate the festivities with black and white masks and colorful decorations. The general population mingles with actors who recreate rites and mysterious traditions from the times of antiquity. People drink wine, eat hot fava beans and lard, and burn fires long into the night. This is one of the most festive events in Sardinia, so if someone approaches you and gently spreads embers from a dwindling fire on your face, try not to be offended. It is a local gesture meant to pass along well wishes for good luck to the recipient of the ashy face. If you are visiting Sardinia during the week of Carnival you are sure to keep the vivid and strangely wonderful memories of what you see with you forever.
There are a number of other festivals in Sardinia as well. The Festival of Saint Efisio begins on May 1 every year and has been one of the most longstanding and meaningful Sardinia events since 1657. There is a long procession that starts in the streets of Cagliari ending up at the church of San Giorgino. The parade and festival is dedicated to Saint Efisio who Sardinians were reticent to upset for fear of pirate attacks, plague, and other such undesirable eventualities. It is a solemn parade wherein riders on ornately decorated horses proudly display the statue of the saint on a drawn cart while thousands of attendants observe in reverence.
One of the more popular festivals in Sardinia is the Sartiglia celebration in Oristano. It takes place during the week of Carnival. The festivities take place in February and have their origins in ancient Spanish jousting traditions. Masked jousters put on an amazing show for intrigued local and tourist onlookers. The Festadelmare is another example of one of the most popular events in Sardinia. The village of Santa Lucia hosts the yearly event every September where people enjoy art and music through a number of shows, displays, concerts, and cultural exhibitions. Festadelmare was conceived to bring awareness to environmental issues and focuses largely around a celebration of the arts and how they relate to the native’s connection to the sea. The festivals in Sardinia are just as appealing as the beautiful beaches and enviable resort destinations for those who want to experience native Sardinia in its truest form.