The North greets the summer months by celebrating its most popular festivities in grand style. Its traditional decorations, typical food and street-filled fun are always topped off with dreamy firework serenades that light up the night sky.
June is the month that marks the beginning of Portugal’s great festivities, namely São João, which is celebrated in the country’s second largest city – Oporto. However, other cities, such as Braga, also join in this celebration, where the party is basically held on the city’s streets and everyone strolls around with plastic hammers in their hands, jokingly hitting everyone else on the head; or carrying around bouquets of flowers or aromatic herbs which are placed under everyone else’s noses when they least expect it, but don’t always smell heavenly – all in the name of fun! This peculiar celebration is infused with delicious street flavors such as beef sandwiches, grilled sardines, “caldo verde” (a hearty green broth) and, for dessert, the typical and delicious “farturas” (traditional Portuguese donuts). Entertaining amusement rides and small paper balloons sailing through the sky, complete this colorful and fun-filled scenario you won’t want to miss!
One of the country’s most popular festivities during the month of August are the Festas da Senhora da Agonia that take place in the beautiful seaside city of Viana do Castelo. In honor of the patron saint of fisherman – Senhora da Agonia – every August, from the 19th to the 22nd, the city’s streets are filled with national and international tourists that flock to Viana do Castelo to see the parade of traditional costumes, as well as the religious procession that not only takes place in the sea, but also on the beautiful fresh flower carpets – handmade in advance – that line the streets. The “gigantones” parade, composed of giant handmade dolls that personify fun and tradition, is also a show-stopper. In addition, you can enjoy local handcraft exhibitions – Viana lace, handkerchiefs and dishes – that are set up on the streets for all to see. All the locals enjoy these festivities dressed for the occasion, with popular and colorful costumes, accessorized with traditional gold jewelry from Viana do Castelo and stroll the streets joyfully, always to the sound of marching bands, drums and all the excitement that characterizes this festivity. You’ll definitely feel a lot of love here, so join the party!
The heart of Portugal is also rich in tradition and, in the centre of the country, you’ll also find popular festivities that date back to antiquity, as well as smaller celebrations that take place spread out over the summer months in honor of different saints.
The S. Mateus Fair, in the city of Viseu, is one of the oldest fairs in Portugal and in Spain – its first edition dates back to the year 1392. Its various stalls, handcraft fair, amusement rides and concerts are part of the festivity’s vast entertainment program, which occurs between the end of August and the beginning of September.
During the Fair’s 40 days of fun, music, folklore, handcraft, gastronomy and animation are a daily presence; as are a variety of sports activities such as cycling, helicopter rides, basketball, “futsal” (indoor soccer), volleyball, handball, tennis, athletics, soccer, roller hockey, equestrianism, martial arts, fishing and chess, with the organization of many tournaments.
The Fair’s cultural program is equally inviting, with many concerts, shows, performances and artists, all contributing with great entertainment.
During the month of March, the Óbidos International Chocolate Festival takes place and what a treat is in store for you! Besides the fact that it is set up in one of Portugal’s most beautiful historical villages, this international event is a Mecca for chocolate lovers everywhere! Adults become little kids again as they are delighted by all the delicious chocolate art creations that exist to be observed and tasted. With the fragrance of chocolate heavy in the air, you can also participate in culinary workshops (where chocolate is of course the key ingredient), witness the Chocolatier of the Year contest, go on fun rides, observe delicious competitions and other types of entertainment, such as dance shows. A sweet honeymoon stop…
Lisbon is known for being a city that is constantly celebrating – here, night life is just as animated as day life. The city’s main festivity, which brings together people from all over the country, is the Festa de Santo António. The party is held on the streets, where many kisses are stolen and many weddings celebrated… Santo António is, after all, the patron saint of marriage. If you’re on your honeymoon, participating in this festivity couldn’t be more fun, or more romantic…
Just like the S. João festivities in the north, on June 13th, Santo António is the patron saint that is honored throughout the city of Lisbon, namely with one special event where various couples all get married at the same time, in the same place. Besides being the patron saint of lost things, fertility and shipwrecks, Santo António is especially venerated as the patron saint of a good marriage.
The night of June 12th-13th is synonymous of pure joy and amusement all over the city, which is beautifully decorated with colorful paper arches, under which everyone dances and savors traditional food. On the city’s main street – Avenida da Liberdade – Lisbon’s different neighborhoods parade, showing off the special Santo António march and costumes that they have been preparing all year. The face-off between Lisbon’s various neighborhoods are enthusiastically applauded by thousands of onlookers… a show that definitely can’t be missed! Tradition has it that, during these festivities, you should present the love of your life with a typical and fragrant sweet basil plant, accompanied by an equally sweet love poem. Did someone say romantic honeymoon?
It wouldn’t be wrong to describe the island of Madeira as the island of festivities! Here, parties like the Flower Festival (“Festa da Flor”) or Carnival are great reasons to fill the streets with life and animation. In Madeira, any and every festivity is colorful and entertaining – the perfect spot for a fun-filled, traditional festivity inspired honeymoon!
To celebrate Spring and the magnificent blossoming of the thousand of tropical flowers that compose Madeira’s stunning backdrop, Funchal gets all dressed up – in flowers of course – and presents locals and tourists with the unforgettable “Festa da Flor” (“Flower Festival”).
The festivities start on Saturday, when children wearing traditional garments, build a wall of flowers that is known as the Wall of Hope (“Muro da Esperança”) – a symbol for the hope in a better world. On the next day, allegoric cars, abundantly decorated with the island’s typical flowers, parade through local streets, creating a magical and fragrant atmosphere. Every year, the different troupes that participate in the parade, present new and exciting choreographies that are so much fun to watch and replicate!
Local handcrafters also create stunning flower baskets that adorn the beautiful streets of Funchal… The Flower Festival is also famous for other activities such as: the flower carpets that are magically created by hand and that line the city’s streets, contests for best window displays, shows by traditional music groups, a flower exhibition at the Ateneu Comercial and classical music concerts, among many other forms of entertainment.
The archipelago of Azores also celebrates a grand festivity that joins together the inhabitants of each one of its nine islands, promoting the spirit of collaboration and equality during the 7 weeks that the festivities take place.
April and June
In the archipelago of Azores, the Espírito Santo festivities are celebrated every Sunday between the months of April and June. The islands’ streets are decorated with festive lights and flags, inside delicious dinners are prepared and savored and, when night falls, everyone walks towards the “impérios” (small places of worship) to participate in the rosary praying and in the enjoyable night that always follows it.
The festivity’s rituals include the coronation of an emperor at the local church who, with a scepter and a silver plate, symbolizes the Holy Spirit and creates the empire of equality, where men and women are invited to live in a spirit of solidarity during the 7 weeks that follow Easter.
There is an atmosphere of festivity wherever you turn and each island has its own peculiarities, but the coronation of the emperor is the same in every one of them, as is the parade that includes the participation of the empress, on the day that offerings of meat and wine are distributed.
This secular festivity potentiates true humanitarian and altruist gestures, such as the distribution of food to the needy, meals that are offered and shared by everyone and the wonderful environment of socializing that is promoted between friends and neighbors, always to the sound of festival music and to the taste of traditional and delicious local food. An unforgettable experience…