Events & music
Be sure many towns speak their own dialects, cook their own recipes and celebrate their own festivals that have been developed without any outside interference.
Conservative and for much of the year politely reserved, Sardinians let go with a bang during their great festivals. These boisterous and spectacular occasions reveal much about the islanders’ long-held beliefs, mixing myth with faith and folklore.
Up and down the island you will encounter festivals where folk dancing, hand-carved masks and flamboyant costumes keep Sardinia’s one-of-a-kind heritage very much alive.
Music lovers must stay tuned about the great number of concerts all around, especially in Summer.
No Sardinian festival or celebration would be complete without folk dancing, referred to as ballo sardo (Sardinian dance) or su ballu tundu (dancing in the round), which is interpreted slightly differently from region to region. It generally involves a group of dancers or couples in a line or open circle, who hold hands or link arms and move gracefully across the floor with agile steps, twists and turns. Their movements often become sprightlier as the music quickens.
Each of the 370 villages and towns on the island has its own traditional costume.
Festa di Sant’Antioco: beautiful costumed processions, dancing, concerts, horseriding races, streetmarket and fireworks are held over four days in Sant’Antioco to celebrate the town’s patron saint. It take place 15 days after Easter and on the 1th of August. Epifany day, Carneval, Easter, August the 15th (ferragosto) and the 1th of November (Ognissanti) are further opportunity to see and have fun at.
Girotonno: not only a cooking competitions, but street tastings, concerts and nautical events celebrate Carloforte’s famous mattanza (tuna catch), on San Pietro Island. Dedicated to tuna fish, the island’s main annual event features international cooking competitions, street tastings, finger food, seminars, concerts and various nautical-themed events. It’s held over four days in late May/early June. To get the ferry on these days can be tricky….
Matrimonio Mauritano: usually on the first Sunday of August, Santadi’s costumed townsfolk reenact a real Moorish wedding in the central piazza, with fascinating, ancient, typical costumes.
Narcao blues: top blues and jazz performers take to the stage in the small mining village of Narcao for one of Sardinia’s top music events (www.narcaoblues.it), in July or August (stay tuned!).
Cagliari puts on a good show for Carnevale, in February, and during the Easter Holy Week, when a hooded procession takes place between the Chiesa di Sant’Efisio and the cathedral up in Il Castello.
Iglesias’ Medieval Summer comprises a series of themed events that involve much dressing up and flag-waving. Highlights include a huge costumed procession. Many events also during the Easter Holy Week.
In 2008 the canto a tenore was inscribed on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The launeddas is Sardinia’s trademark musical instrument. A rudimentary wind instrument made of three reed canes and played using circular breathing, it is particularly popular at village festivals in the south.
In the 1930s the Fascists banned the Sardinian cantadores (poets and singers), whose attacks on church and state they deemed dangerous and subversive.