Typical parties, traditions and much more
Are you planning your trip to Portugal but are not yet sure when would be the best time to visit? We are here to help you! Here’s a list of local holidays and popular parties, which are the best dates to visit our country!
Where? Lazarim, in the Lamego region.
Ok, when you think about Carnival you probably think about Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, samba, etc… And yes, that may be great, but we are talking about Portugal! And we have some pretty cool traditions when it comes to that holiday. Forget about the carnival clichés and discover the Entrudo de Lazarim, that happens in the region near Lamego – it is one of the most genuine and traditional popular parties in the country!
This popular party is famous for the “caretos”, wooden masks made by local artisans that are used by the people of the village. Another high point of this festivity is when a couple of locals read the “testamento da comadre e do compadre”, some kind of funny poetry that says bad things about all the people that live in the village! It is super funny but also full of bad words! The party gets completed with a procession and the burning of the dolls representing the “comadre” and “compadre”, some fireworks and lots of music and food!
Where? Braga, near Porto
In Braga, people celebrate an entire week with Easter festivities! It is the most important week in town and it receives lots of tourists to see this beautiful religious and cultural celebration. There’s a lot happening: exhibitions, concerts, processions… The whole city gets decorated and the churches (Braga has tons of them!) get full of flowers and candles.
One of the most famous characters of the holy week in Braga are the “farricocos”, exotic figures dressed all in black tunics, hooded and masked with black cloth. You can only see their eyes and feet! This costume is a sign of penitence, inspired by the Old Testament. During the processions, they roam the streets with their “ruge-ruge”, a kind of noisy machine made of wood, or holding the “fogaréus”, baskets full of pine cones on fire. Such impressive figures are considered by some people as the main symbol of the Easter celebrations in Braga!
Dia da Liberdade/Freedom Day
Where? Everywhere in Portugal, but especially in Lisbon
When? April 25th
This national holiday celebrates the end of Salazar’s dictatorship and the eventual implantation of a democratic regime in Portugal. This day is also known as the Carnation Revolution, as this flower was distributed to the people at the manifestations and they gave them to the soldiers. There are some beautiful pictures of that time with the soldier’s guns adorned with carnation flowers!
Nowadays April 25th is celebrated with special political sessions, manifestations on the streets, exhibitions, concerts, debates and more! It is a day where everyone celebrates political freedom and the beginning of a new phase in Portugal’s history.
When? June 12th
June is one of the best months to visit Lisbon: the summer is about to start and the mood in the city is awesome! During the whole summer, there’s a lot of activities happening, like open-air concerts of Fado, Jazz, movie and theater festivals, sports competitions and much more. On June 12th people celebrate Santo António, considered the city’s patron, and this day is one of the high points of celebrations in Lisbon!
During the night everyone enjoys the “arraiais”, parties that happen in the most typical neighborhoods of Lisbon. Popular music and food – especially the grilled sardines – are the stars! The streets are all colorfully decorated and the scent of “manjerico” is everywhere. At Liberdade Avenue you can see the popular parade, with locals arranged in groups by neighborhood, all dressed up in costumes and dancing to a choreography. In the afternoon of the 13th, there’s a procession in honor of Saint António, famous for getting people married!
When? June 23rd
Ok, so we saved the best for last! São João (Saint John) it’s the BEST HOLIDAY in the country and you MUST be in Porto to see it! It is celebrated in the night of the 23rd, but the whole month is full of events and activities happening all over the city. A few days before the São João night the “bailaricos” began: popular music, grilled sardines, manjerico, decorated streets… well, this part is similar to Santo António in Lisbon, but our celebration is better – after all, Porto is the best city :)
If you spend the São João night here – and we really recommend you do – there are four main things that you should do:
1. Try the typical food: caldo verde, grilled sardines with roasted pepers and “bifana”, a saucy pork sandwich. Everything works just fine with beer or vinho verde!
2. Get an hot air balloon and launch it to the sky with the help of your friends. Everyone does that and the sky gets full of golden spots, it is magical!
3. Get yourself a plastic hammer. Yes, that’s right! At this night everyone is “attacking” each other with plastics hammers, so you should have one to be a part of it! If you’re more traditional, get a big “alho-porro” (French garlic) and use it the same way!
4. And, of course, have fun! The city will be full of people and music, get lost in Porto’s streets and enjoy the best holiday!