The suggestion is that the Sicilian Carnival, in the form of parades, floats and allegorical palios, dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Carnival celebrations have grown in popularity throughout Sicily, with the most spectacular events taking place in Acireale, Palazzolo Acreide, Termini Imerese, Sciacca, Taormina, Saponara, Mezzojuso and Misterbianco.
In Acireale, the Carnival is one of Sicily’s largest, with festivities lasting for ten days and involving parades, allegorical floats, concerts and much feasting and drinking. At the Carnival of Sciacca, the city keys are handed to Peppe Nappa, the Carnival King, and there are fabulous processions of spectacularly crafted floats. Trapani, Avola in the south east and Palazzolo Acreide all host their own carnival celebrations.
Almond Blossom Festival
The annual Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore is held in Agrigento in early February against the backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Valley of the Temples. Traditionally heralding the start of the planting season, the event has now become an international celebration, kicking off with a torch lit procession from the Temple of Concordia, and subsequently featuring traditional music, folk dancing and fireworks.
The Norman Palio
Each August (12-14), Piazza Armerina hosts the spectacular Norman Palio to commemorate the deeds of Roger de Hauteville who, in 1071, rid Sicily of the Saracens. Today the event is celebrated with a series of events including a medieval jousting tournament. More information from www.paliodeinormanni.it.