Several cultural activities are organized throughout the year in the city. Many of them have a rather long history and they get better from one year to another.
The Renaissance spirit of the city of Rethymnon has inspired and initiated the Renaissance Festival, taking place every year from July to September, since 1987 and aiming at presenting the Art and Letters of Renaissance both of Crete and of Europe. During this period of time there have been performed a lot of theatrical plays, from the masters of the Cretan theatre of the 17 th century, to Shakespeare, Moliere and Goldoni. Medieval, Renaissance but also modern music concerts, peinting exhibitions, seminars, conferences, and cinema are some other activities taking place during the Festival. It is also interesting that scenes from the "Commedia del Arte" have been presented in the streets of the old town.
Almost all the activities are carried out in the theatre "Erofili ", within the Fortetza.
Two weeks before the Carnival, in February or in March it is organised the game of the Treasure Hunt. It is a very popular game to which locals take part with enthusiasm. The game lasts one day and it is a hard test of the body and brain abilities, as it has reached such a high level of toughness, that it is almost impossible for any uninitiated person to participate. The game is a very good source of knowledge of the history, the spirit of the various historic periods and monuments of the town; thus, if you are around when it takes place, try to watch one of the groups when in action.
The Treasure Hunt game is a game for adults; however, one week earlier, it is also organised the Children's' Treasure Hunt, a great chance for children to combine fun with knowledge and exercise.
As the game has been pretty famous and is one of the attractions of the city, the Association of Hotel Owners, in co-operation with the Municipality have decided to organise another Treasure Hunt, this time in summer for the visitors of the city. The activity is carried out within the framework of the "Day of Tourism".
The winners of this game are awarded a package of holidays in Rethymnon, all included.
Carnival is celebrated in Rethymnon with a wide range of original events, which combine tradition with imagination and fun. The Carnival of Rethymnon is the greatest on the island and one of the most important in Greece; the parade of masqueraded groups following the "King of Carnival" date back to the first decade of the 20 th century. Since 1959 the parade is organised every year and year after year new events are added up. The events start some ten days before Shrove Monday, with the open-air party on the Pancake day, which take place at the Platano Square and at the church of Mikri Panaghia; live music, wine and titbits and a big crowd of people having fun, dancing and singing make this event an attraction worth attending.
One week before the "official" parade of the groups, a party is organised for the participants, who not only attend it dressed up with costumes, but they also prepare and perform funny sketches. As expected, wine, food, music, dancing and fun are abundant. The parade takes place on Sunday before the Shrove Monday and the spectacle is really worth seeing.
Shrove Monday is dedicated to tradition: old customs revive, mainly in the near by villages as Melidoni and Meronas and if you are around you can attend the "kidnapping of the bride» or the "Kandis". But watch out! One of the most popular customs is the smudging of faces!
If you are in Rethymnon in mid-July don't miss the Cretan Wine Festival organised by the Touring Club of Rethymnon in the Municipal Park.
During the event the wine producers present their products; wine is free and the visitors can taste almost all varieties of the Cretan wine. But, as wine without music, dance and fun is incompatible to the Cretan psychology, the event is enriched with folklore music from Crete, but also from the rest of Greece.
A series of cultural activities in the memory of the "Sacrifice" of Arkadi take place on the 8 th of November.
A series of cultural activities take place in summer during the "Nautical week".
A local feast ("panighyri") takes place on the 23 rd of June in honor of St. John (Klidonas).
Access to the city (and all the prefecture) is possible by ferryboat from Piraeus; there is one ship from Piraeus to the port of Rethymnon, all year round. In summer there might be some more. The ships usually sail in the afternoon or in the evening and, depending on their speed, they arrive at Rethymnon after 6 to 10 hours. Access by ship is also possible from Thessaloniki, by bus or plane to Piraeus and then by ferryboat.
Rethymnon does not have an airport; visitors preferring airplane should catch a flight to Chania or Heraklion. From the International airport of Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos, there are usually two flights daily to Chania and to Heraklion; one early in the morning and the other in the afternoon or evening. In summer there may be more. The airport of Chania is at Akrotiri, some 15 kilometers far from the city; from the airport you will arrive to Rethymnon by the Olympic Airways buses, by public bus or even by taxi (50 kilometers approximately). The airport of Heraklion is 5 kilometers at the East of the city; from the airport the passengers are transferred to Rethymnon by the Olympic Airways buses. You may also use the public bus or even a taxi (60 kilometers approximately). Access by plane is also possible from Thessaloniki.