Summer in Cyprus means way more than simply lounging at the beach and surviving the heat. Sure, hustling through daily life at 40 degrees is no easy task but the summer months on the island also mean it’s the festival season!

Kato Drys was an unknown village to most before Fengaros Festival took over and rebirthed it. Many locals hadn’t even visited the village, yet once Fengaros started taken shape, heaps of crowds ventured up to this tiny place amongst hillsides and began exploring Cyprus further. Truth is, for such a small country, there are so many corners left to be seen and its villages, oozing a more traditional lifestyle, have always been among my favourite to discover.

kato drys village cyprus

Today, when somebody asks me where Kato Drys is, I tend to reply: “Oh, it’s where Fengaros Festival happens.” Right next to the picturesque Lefkara village in the Larnaca district, Kato Drys has one tavern, one coffee shop, a delicious jam-making brunch place and friendly locals. Its architecture is similar throughout, low stone-built houses with stunning grand doors and the odd more modern houses popping up. With a visit to Fengaros Festival, you get a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the village.

So, what’s Fengaros all about?

fengaros festival

In its 9th edition, Fengaros remains a pioneering music festival of the island with more than 40 acts across three stages. Pop and rock, folk music, dance music, hip hop and local traditional heritage are all elements of the festival embraced by Cypriots and tourists alike. It’s no wonder then that Joss Stone and Joan As Police Woman once performed here.

Picture this: camping at the village’s elementary schoolyard, walking through pebbly alleys to head to one of the music stages to listen to Cypriot and international bands and singers, mingling with the villagers and continuing the festive party in the streets only to wake up and have breakfast at the coffee shop with people you met the night before.

fengaros festival cyprus

In a nutshell, that’s how I’d describe Fengaros because what makes up this festival goes beyond its exciting line up of performers but is the whole atmosphere that surrounds the village over the weekend.

Usually, the music is split between two or three days from late afternoon until well into the night. Even if you’re not camping, I’d suggest going in the late afternoon to catch the performances in the evening sun amongst the stone-build houses. If you are camping it out, which many people do, you’ll want to go early to set up your tent in the daylight.

fengaros festival cyprus

Camping during the Cypriot summer is no joke. In my opinion, if you’re not staying by the beach, one night is enough as beyond that you get sweaty, sticky and all kinds of hot as there are no proper shower or bathroom facilities on site but the portable ones. That said, most of the times I went to Fengaros I camped and it truly adds to the festival experience. It’s all about stumbling your way through the darkness back to your tent, chatting with your camping neighbours and letting the night unfold past the scheduled performances. If you want to be a little more comfortable then book one of the agro-touristic houses. Do it as soon as the festival dates are announced though as they tend to get filled quickly.

This year was the first time I wasn’t going to camp and my usual Fengaros buddy and bestie was away so I’ll admit I was apprehensive if the 2019 edition would live up to previous years. In 2018, the festival changed location and the atmosphere just didn’t feel the same. Having attended the most recent version back at Kato Drys, I realise that Fengaros and village go together. One compliments each other. They’re both fun on their own, yet it’s their combination that creates the magic.

Towards the end of the night after getting my dose of melodious live music, I left the music stages and headed to the village centre to check out what was happening there. Bumping into friends, old and new, along the way is another thing I love about Fengaros. As the festival takes place at a small, rural village, its streets get filled and it brings the whole setting to life.

fengaros festival cyprus

Once at the village centre, what I witnessed was a bursting crowd, strangers and friends dancing in the middle of the road with music blasting from the coffee shop.

Now you have to understand that the village’s coffee shop is a rather quiet, chilled place where people have their Cypriot coffee, play tavli (Cypriot backgammon) and cool off with a beer. Never in a million years did I expect that a street party would erupt from there. Trance, rock, Greek hits, Latino tunes and all kinds of grooves were played that night and people were loving it. When I left around 3 am, all sweaty and happy, the party was in full swing and locals, foreigners, old and young were dancing together.

fengaros festival cyprus

Although this wasn’t an organised event by Fengaros, it was still part of and because of the festival. You see, every time Fengaros Festival takes place at Kato Drys, it’s more than just a music happening. The idyllic village, the local tourism it creates, the movement it generates in the alleys and the quality of musicians that entertain, all factor into making it a wholesome experience for your ears, eyes and endorphin levels.

fengaros festival cyprus

All photos by the talented Emma Louise Charalambous

Disclaimer: I was invited to join Fengaros Festival 2019 with a complimentary ticket yet all opinions are my own.