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Carnival Processions, fancy dress and festivities takes place throughout Sardinia, with especially theatrical events in Bosa, Mamoiada and Oristano’s Sa Sartiglia, the scene of spectacular jousts staged in the town centre.
Sagra del Cus Cus (last weekend): Couscous is an integral part of the cuisine of San Pietro, an island off Sardinia’s southwest coast, and the myriad forms of the speciality are sampled and celebrated at this frolicsome festival, which also features concerts, dance and cabaret.
The most significant religious festival of the year sees holy processions and events throughout the island. Some of the most distinctive rites can be seen at Alghero, Castelsardo, Iglesias, Sassari, Oliena (near Nuoro), Santu Lussurgiu (north of Oristano) and Valledoria (near Castelsardo).
Festa di Sant’Antioco (second Sunday after Easter): Festivities commemorating the North African-born Saint Antiochus are most exuberant in the town named after him, on the island of the same name off Sardinia’s southwest coast, where events stretch over nine days.
Festa di Sant’Efisio (May 1–4): Cagliari’s feast day in honour of the Roman martyr Saint Efisius is the city’s biggest event. Costumed delegations from towns and villages all over Sardinia participate. The opening and closing ceremonies are the best times to view Sardinia’s diverse costumes.
Festa dei Mártiri Turritani (May 3): The major festival at Porto Torres, north of Alghero, sees an impressive procession accompanying plaster images of the town’s martyred saints from the Pisan basilica of San Gavino to the clifftop church of Balai, where they remain until Pentecost.
Festa di San Simplicio (May 15): Olbia’s yearly extravaganza commemorates its patron saint, and consists of fireworks, the distribution of sweets and wine, and various games and water competitions.
La Cavalcata (penultimate Sunday): Costumed revelry takes over Sassari for this pageant, which consists of a long procession of costumed villagers, followed by jaw-dropping equestrian stunts, and culminating in in the afternoon.
Girotonno (first week): Carloforte, on the isle of San Pietro, marks the annual tuna catch with four days of eating, drinking, concerts and dance performances.
S’Ardia di Costantino (July 6–8): Thrilling horse-races are held At Sedilo, between Oristano and Nuoro, in honour of Constantine, Roman emperor and Christian saint.
Festa di Santa Maria del Mare (first Sunday): Bosa celebrates its patron saint in typically flamboyant style, including a grand river procession and a display of fireworks.
Ferragosto (August 15): This mid-summer festival marks the festival of the Madonna with displays of dazzling fireworks. In Sassari, the event is combined with the rough and tumble of I Candelieri. which takes its name from the huge candles carried through thronged streets amid delirious dancing.
Sagra del Redentore (last ten days): In Sardinia’s mountainous Barbagia region, Nuoro’s main festival features a procession up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of nearby Monte Ortobene, as well as traditional music and a competition of the island’s costumes.
La Corsa degli Scalzi (first Sunday): Dozens of barefoot men dressed in white sprint 8km from the sanctuary of San Salvatore to the lagoon town of Cabras, near Oristano, re-enacting the rescue of a holy statue from raiders in the sixteenth century.
Festa di Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos (second Sunday): The narrow lanes of Bosa’s old centre are dolled up for this religious festival, when tables are laid, food is guzzled and wine is quaffed.
Sagra delle Castagne (last Sunday): This fair at Aritzo in the heart of Barbagia’s mountains, is dedicated to the annual chestnut harvest. The aromas of cooking chestnuts permeate the air, accompanied by music, dancing and liberal samplings of the local wine.