Portugal Festivals

Holidays and festivals are a true passion of Portuguese people and usually it is not a problem to find an occasion. They have heart set on commemorating numerous saints, arranging pilgrimages (romarias), fascinating fairs (feiras) and festivals (fiestas) in addition to traditional Catholic holidays. Especially, holidays are much adhered in the northern regions, where even the smallest village makes a huge gala on any occasion, including a loud music and dancing, vivid fireworks and salutes. So, while visiting Portugal there is a good chance to attend some festivities, as far as Portuguese holiday calendar is pretty overwhelmed.

February is a carnival season in Portugal. The date is usually not fixed (it is February 19th in 2012), but the entire week goes completely on schedule. The first day, for example, is often marked with the march of pupils and students, which have holidays during the fest. Monday, usually called Pink Monday, is a day of jesters’ procession. On Sundays and Tuesdays furious and passionate dancing is on the plan. Since 1926 there is a tradition of matrafonas – males changed into females in a vulgar manner. However, different regions of Portugal preserve their own features of celebration.

May is a period of regional festivities. May 1st is a Big Thaw Day in Algarve, when locals decorate their houses with flowers and garlands.

Festival of the Man of the Sea is a major holiday, established in Nazaré, the best beach resort in the country, on May 7th. The festival program includes an abundant marine banquet, the procession of brightly dressed fishing schooners and beach dances and contests.

May 13th is Our Lady of Fátima Holiday, which is aimed to commemorate the miracles of Virgin Mary occurred in 1917. Every month (on day 13) during half of the year, various miracles happened in Portugal.

Portuguese natives, especially Lisbon residents, worship Santo Antonio on June 13th. Massive parades and open air parties are supplemented with some certain customs; young people write notes to the Saint with love affairs requests, young men present pots with paper carnations or any other gift to their beloved. The Portuguese believe that matrimonies organized on this day are the happiest ones.

Feast of John the Baptist on June 24th attract with fires, bonfires, fireworks, lit not only in villages but also in the areas of  large cities. Local chapels gather people with torchlights in hands. The most vivid celebrations are organized on the Azores and Madeira Islands. Braga celebrates it for a couple days.

Catholic adherence to commemoration of Saints is also observed on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29th). A town of Seixal is a major destination point, where fairs of handcrafts, parades and parties pull in visitors. Porto de Mos organizes a one week celebration, as Saint Peter is considered a city patron.

On August 14th Abiul invites people on bullfight birthday, where the central place is, of course, devoted to the corrida de toros, which appears to be a set of sport competition, artistic work and spectacular performance. The main feature of this celebration is a demonstration of bullfighting in Portuguese old-fashioned traditions, especially without killing a bull after the event.

On the edge of August and September wine festival is arranged in Portugal, motherland of numerous wine sorts. In particular, Madeira Wine Festival transforms into a huge performance, aimed to glorify the start of grape gathering and wine-making. Madeira wines are offered everywhere: tables are put on the streets, wine storages are opened and wine exhibition is organized. Lots of people come here to find out a history of exquisite Madeira wines and to taste them. Madeira is sure one of top places to go.

Feast of Blessed Nuno is a highly appreciated holiday among the Portuguese, celebrated on November 6th. Nuño Álvares Pereira played a significant role in Portuguese independence from Castile in the 14th century. However, the canonization of the Saint occurred only in 1918.