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Portugal Festivals

Festas (Festivals) and Romarias (Religious Festivals) are held throughout the year in Portugal and hardly a week goes by without a Saints’ day being celebrated somewhere! Carnaval weekend precedes Lent and is usually held nationwide in February with floats and colourful parades. The liveliest celebrations are held in Ovar, Sesimbra, Torres Vedras, Funchal in Madeira and Loulé on the Algarve. Loulé’s Carnaval is combined with the annual Almond Gatherers’ Fair where mock battles are fought in the streets with almond blossom. Semana Santa (Holy Week) which leads up to Easter is an important time in the religious calendar in Portugal. Braga, the country’s religious capital holds solemn torchlit processions as crowds gather to do penance. The first weekend in May sees the Festas das Cruzes (Feast of the Crosses)in Barcelos wherethe procession route is strewn with flowers. The feast of Santo António in midJune in the Alfama district of Lisbon is usually well attended. The Romaria de Nossa Senhora da Agonia (Our Lady in Suffering) in Viana do Castelo heldin late August is one ofPortugal’s most popularreligious processions and is followed by folk dancing, music, decorated floats and ends as most of these events do with a firework display.
The Flower Festival in Funchal in late April sees local shops and houses and floats decorated with flowers. The Feira Nacional da Agricultura (Agricultural Fair) is held in early June in Santarém and here you will get to seetraditional folk dancing and bull fighting. The Algarvehosts the National Folklore Festival in mid-September with musicians dressed in colourful regional costumes.
Cultural events include the Fantasporto international film festivalin February and the Festival Intercéltico do Porto (end of March/early April) with music from Portugal and Spain, both held in Oporto. The Algarve Music Festival takes place between May and July with concerts and performances by the Portuguese Gulbenkian Ballet held at different venues across the region. Meanwhile the Sintra Festival held between June and August has a programme of classical music and ballet. Lisbon hosts Jazz em Agosto inearly August and events are staged in the Gulbenkian Centre gardens. The Encontros de Fotografia is Portugal’s biggest photography exhibition with works by both new and world-famous photographers.
There are many gastronomic events during the year, especially around harvest time. Silves hosts a lively Festival de Cerveja (Beer Festival) in late Julywith folk dancing as well as many different local beers to sample. A Festival do Marisco (Seafood Festival)is heldin mid-August in the large fishing port of Olhãoâra de Lobos in Madeiraduringthe month of September.Meanwhile the second Sunday in September sees a Wine Festival in Palmela, near Lisbon. Finally, Santarém holds a Festival Nacional de Gastronomia the last two weeks of October where you can sample delicious local dishes and wines at stands representing the country’s different regions. Bom apetite! on the Algarve. The wine harvest is celebrated in Funchal and Estreito de Cam