Normally running for about ten days during late February to early March, Carnival time is one of the most exciting times to be in Portugal as festivities take place in districts all across the country including on its islands. It is a time of creativeness, imagination and pure fun! The most famous of Portugal's carnivals takes place in Funchal, Madeira, welcoming tourists from the mainland and all corners of the globe to watch a full-on parade of entertainment along the Avenida do Mar. Parades which are held on the last Saturday of the Carnival period are grand and filled with original floats, loud music and hundreds of dancers dressed in sparkly outfits giving it their all as the event draws to a close. This modest imitation of Brazil's well-known Carnival is a top annual event and represents the time before Lent when people spoil themselves with sweets and cakes. For example, instead of pancakes, in Madeira it is custom to eat the traditional pastry called the malassada which is normally topped off with Madeira's own sugar-cane honey or mel de cana.
Chocolate Festival in Óbidos
One thing almost all of us share in common is our love of chocolate and it's at Óbidos' International Chocolate Festival where you can gather with others from across the world for the ultimate chocolate celebration. Welcoming well over 200,000 chocolate lovers annually, the quaint medieval village of Óbidos in central Portugal is transformed into a major chocolate haven. Sample all kinds of chocolate from a galore of cakes, sweets, desserts; be amazed by extraordinary chocolate artistic creations and sculptures; take a cooking course and learn new recipes where chocolate is the star ingredient; or watch professionals and amateurs compete against each other to win different prizes including "Chocolatier of the Year". Centred on a fresh new theme each year, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the Lisbon Zoo as in past years, the festival is great both for adults and kids alike and usually takes place during twelve-days in March/April.
Madeira Flower Festival
If you want to discover why Madeira is designated the Ilha das Flores or "Island of Flowers" then don't miss its annual Flower Festival that takes place in its capital, Funchal. Known as one of the most colourful times to visit the island, the Madeira Flower Festival is a magnificent celebration of springtime and the island's exotic flowering season read more...
Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima
The annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is Portugal's largest event on its religious calendar. Attended by some hundreds of thousands of faithfuls, this annual pilgrimage takes place twice a year, firstly, on the 13th of May in accordance with the first apparition of Mary to three young shepards and secondly, on the 13th of October which remembers the "Miracle of the Sun" in 1917. On these days, pilgrims from around the world join together at Fatima to pray for peace, healing and enlightenment. Worshippers will walk on their knees towards the shrine holding a rosary as they pray to Our Lady of Fatima; large Mass ceremonies are given; and extraordinary candle lit vigils are held creating powerful sombre scenes that are nothing less than moving.
National Agricultural Fair
The first two weeks of June, in the city of Santarém, sees the National Agricultural Fair take place. This dynamic event enjoys a series of agricultural displays, bull-running through the streets, bullfighting and energetic folk dancing filled with music and customary outfits. Piled with traditions, the National Agricultural Fair offers tourists the opportunity to get to know an alternative Portugal by going back to the roots of Portuguese culture.
São João Festival
The São João Festival is Porto's most lively street party and celebrates the patron saint of St. John. Starting on 23rd June and ending on the 24th June, you can bet that celebrations will include plenty of traditions from dancing, eating grilled sardines, banging plastic hammers on tables in rhythm with music; big food-fights, and leaping over bonfires whilst making a wish. Porto's streets and houses are completely revamped with preparations for this big event which start several days before when each district or bairro is decked with party decorations, ornate religious figures and models representing different townscapes. Porto's old Historic Centre along the Douro Valley becomes one of the most scenic parts of the city as it bursts with colour and is an amazing place to be in. At midnight, on the 23rd June, watch an amazing firework display that illuminates the entire evening sky then head towards the Praia dos Ingleses beach close to sunrise and end the events on the 24th with a huge beach party and dancing around roaring bonfires.
The Sintra Festival
The Sintra Festival takes place once every week between the summer months of June, July and August. Attracting large crowds of music lovers, this major international music event comprises around twelve outstanding concerts with performances by orchestras, quality musicians and dance groups in highly prestigious locations such as beautiful churches, elegant palaces, pristine parks and historic buildings. This is the busiest time on Sintra's cultural calendar and although each week is a highlight do look out for the Feira Grande celebration in the last week of July or the Noites de Bailado which enjoys a night of ballet, dance and even opera in Sintra's Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval.
Super Bock Super Rock
The Super Bock Super Rock annual event is a huge rock festival in Portugal's music calendar. Dates for this event vary, but usually occur around spring or summertime over a three-day period. Having taken place most years at the Parque do Tejo in the Parque das Nações in Lisbon, the festival, has now moved to Meco in Sesimbra, Setúbal District, in order to give the event a new image near the beach. Named after a famous beer, the Super Bock Super Rock fest always features a fantastic line-up of national and international bands you won't want to miss. Past festivals have seen performances by the likes of international bands such as Crowded House, The Cure, Duran Duran, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Dj Tiesto, The Killers, Duffy, Depeche Mode, Keane, Empire of the Sun, Pet Shop Boys, Stereophonics, Massive Attack, Kasabian the Legendary Tigerman and Disclosure. In terms of Portuguese artists, past line-ups have included acts by Xutos & Pontapés, David Fonseca, Tiago Bettencourt, and The Gift.
"Festival ao Largo"
Held in the Chiado district of Lisbon, the "Festival ao Largo" is a brilliant summertime event purely dedicated to symphonic music, choral and dance. Despite being a major event, normally held on various dates during the months of June and July, this popular festival is entirely free of entry meaning anyone is invited! Featuring a program comprised of over two dozen outdoor shows, prepare yourself to watch mesmerizing acts by professional musicians, singers, dancers, choreographers and conductors; all of which are of national and international prestige. Past audiences have been treated to awesome performances by the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra and Lisboa Metropolitan Orchestra playing pieces by composers like Mozart, Dvorak, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Rossini. Guaranteed to provide the crowds with many magical moments, the "Festival ao Largo" takes place at the picturesque Largo de São Carlos during the evenings and is one of Portugal's most prominent events on its cultural calendar.
New Year Fireworks in Madeira
New Year's in Madeira is the most anticipated time of the year on the island because of its extravagant midnight firework display. Having held the Guinness World Record for the world's largest firework display in 2006, Madeira welcomes thousands of tourists from across the globe to marvel at what can only be described as Europe's greatest firework spectacle read more...