Cypriot potatoes are the staple of Cypriot cuisine – they are found in almost every dish and with their unique taste, characteristically red-brownish colouring and having received international recognition as top quality produce, it is fitting that Cyprus should host the International Potato Festival.

The 4th International Potato Festival was organised by the Xylophagou Improvement Council, in and around the area of the old potato packing house, which was reconstructed to accommodate both the agricultural exhibition and the presentation of the musical and dancing elements of the festival.

The purpose of the exhibition was to present new varieties of potatoes and inform and educate farmers and festival goers in methods of cultivating them, giving potato farmers had the opportunity to discover new technologies and machinery. The objective was to unite national and international visitors in the cultural heritage and tradition of agricultural cultivation with special focus on potato farming.

The opening ceremony took place on Friday evening with music from Vasso Nicoli, Panagiotis Anglogallos, and performances from dance groups such as Kimon Xylotympou. The entertainment was not what you’d expect from a potato festival at your average farmer’s market, it closer resembled the music programmes of the Giorti tou Krasiou aka The Limassol Wine Festival or Septemberfest – Nicosia Fun Festival. There were also Mandolin players from the Municipality of Paralimni and traditional Bulgarian folk songs and dances, and singers and dancers from around Cyprus as well as Crete, a sign of a more integrated Cypriot society. The Cretan contingent comprised of Petros Kouloumis and Zacharia Spyridaki, followed by the dance group of Constantina Ioannou. Friday night’s entertainment was brought to a close with the sounds of Elena Papapanagiotou, Sotos Gonios, and Petros Kouloumis, last but definitely not least was the Cypriot singer and veteran main act at our very own CyWineFest, Stavros Constantinou.


On Saturday the musical celebration continued with traditional songs by the well-known folk artists Kyriacos Mappouras and Savvas Lambrou, ‘The Tradition’, a cultural association of Liopetriou, local artists also performed the fun and witty and sometimes offensive traditional Tsattista, improvised rhythmic songs, Frosso Pattichi’s dance group as well as Greek dances from the group EMOD of the Municipality of Deskati, Grevena. An ‘International Latin Show’ was performed by the Olga Dance Academy, testament to the Latin people of Cyprus. Penelope Kokkinou’s dance group represented dances from Epirus and Thrace. The closing of the ceremony was performed by Tina Gazi accompanied by big names in Greek music carrying on the legacy of the titans of the Greek music industry and outstanding singers in their own right, Christos Menidiatis and Stelios Dionysiou.

But before we get carried away with the musical programme, let’s not let the true purpose of the festival – the mighty Cypriot potato. There was also an Agriculture Exhibition with presentation of
agricultural machining and equipment, all the different potatoes varieties were presented as well as more detailed aspects of farming the potato such as various types of pesticides and fertilizers. Given the fact that Cyprus is a dry climate, the presentation of irrigation equipment was a particularly important element.


The event took place from Friday 21 – Saturday 22 September 2018 at the Xylophagou Potato Parking House, Xylophagou village, located at the southeast point of Cyprus, approximately three kilometres from the Pyla Cape, part of the district of Larnaka. The Exhibition gave ample opportunity for visitors to attend, being open from the hours 18:00 until 23:00. The organisers also held an award ceremony whereby the oldest potato growers in Xylophagou were presented with commemorative tablets. This year’s festival was dedicated to the female farmers and tillers of the Cypriot soil.

For more than a century Xylophagou has been at the centre of cultivation of red soil potatoes in Cyprus, in fact more than 80% of the population of Xylophagou are in some way involved in the cultivation of potatoes, the people in fact play a part in the development of policies implemented by the Cyprus Potato Marketing Board. Xylophagou is at the centre of the Kokkinohorka – ‘the red-soil villages’ – it is estimated that over half a million tourists pass through the village and some make it a point to purchase the infamous red-soil potatoes.

Thus, the humble Cypriot potato brought together and infused Greek, Latin and Bulgarian culture in a celebration of food, music and dance as good festival should do! It is important to celebrate agricultural development as this a major part of our culture and our economy.


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Credit: CyWineFest team/ Andreas Poli

George Charalambous







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