20 Pulsating Festivals of Portugal that You Must Partake

The traditional festivals in Portugal features sardines, sand sculpture, classical music and more.

Most of Portugal’s villages and towns have their own popular celebration (Festa), or pilgrimage (Romaria).

In other words, such traditional festivals mark the history and culture of Portugal. Besides the traditional festivals ,there are also some great contemporary activities.

It also includes music festivals, gay pride celebrations, and more.

Popular Portuguese events are the best way to experience its rich culture.

The top traditional festivals of Portugal are as follows:

S.NoMonth FestivalHow it is Celebrated?
1JanuaryEpiphanyCelebrated with The traditional crown-shaped cake 
2FebruaryCarnivalCelebrated with Rio – like carnival parades
3MarchLisboa dance festivalCelebrated with various kinds of electronic music
4March
/April
EasterCelebrated with religious processions
5March-
August
International sand sculpture festivalCelebrated with magnificent sand sculptures
6MayFesta das CruzesCelebrated with Parades, Circus performance, horse races and fire works
7MayPeregrinacao de FatimaCelebrated with congregation carrying the statue of Mother Mary
8MayIberian Mask festivalCelebrated with wearing masks and funky dresses
9JuneFeast day of Saint AnthonyCelebrated with lights, streamers and grilled sardines
10JuneArraial PrideCelebrated with music, food and drink
11JuneRock in Rio – LisboaCelebrated with different types of music
12JuneFesta de Sao JoaoCelebrated with street parties and music
13JuneNOS Primavera SoundCelebrated with different types of music performed by artists
14JulyFesta dos TabuleirosCelebrated with the most spectacular procession
15JulyFesta dos Colete EncarnadoCelebrated with a parade
16August/
September
Feira de SaoCelebrated with the longest procession
17NovemberFeira Nacional do CavaloCelebrated with competitions ,food and wine
18NovemberSao MartinhoCelebrated with bonfire and parties
19DecemberChristmasCelebrated with  bacalhau , a traditional food
20DecemberNew Year’s EveCelebrated with dance parties

1.Epiphany

The typical crown-shaped egg bolo rei (king’s cake) is consumed with a lucky charm and a bean inside;

If you get the bean in your slice, then, next year, you have to buy the cake.

2.Carnival

Carnival

You can find Carnival parades all over Portugal.  The festivities are held at Lisbon and the Algarve cities.

The festival may seem to be feathers, spandex, and sequins in Rio style.

Portugal’s Carnival festivals refers to time when people gave up meat.

Therefore, traditionally it starts on the last Friday before Lent.

3.Lisboa dance festival

Lisboa dance festivalLisboa dance festival is another cultural event.

This festival was introduced in 2016. But it has become very popular now.

The diverse line-ups show the latest music scenario. If you’re up for music festivals in Portugal , then you can dance to the rhythms.

4.Easter

Easter

Easter (Semana Santa)has witnessed holy processions in many places. Most grandly in Braga and in the Algarve (Festa das Tochas).

The Festa da Mãe Soberana in Loule is one of the largest Easter festivals in the world.

One more is Tomar, however,the procession’s floral crosses are destroyed later.

5.International sand sculpture festival

International sand sculpture festival

Since 2003, FIESA has been running the International Sand Sculpture Festival held in Pera, Algarve.

Artists make sand sculptures using about 40,000 tons of sand over an area of 15,000 square meters.

They represent great details of men, places, and things. Some sculptures even boom up to 12 meters in height!

Visitors can attend workshops, contests, and demonstrations. The promoters of the festival light the beautiful sculptures up at night.

6.Festa das Cruzes

Festa das Cruzes

Festa das Cruzes is the festival of the Crosses and  is the largest annual event held in Barcelos, Minho. Its roots date back to the 16th century when the cross stood as a sign of divine presence.

The festival was inherently religious until the 19th century. It attracted pilgrims from all over Portugal.

It’s a much more traditional festival nowadays.Since it includes local parades, circus shows, horse races, and fireworks.

7.Peregrinacao de Fatima

Peregrinacao de Fatima

Peregrinação de Fátima is Portugal’s most popular Catholic pilgrimage. On 13 May 1917, three kids saw a remarkable glimpse of the Virgin Mary.

More apparitions began to appear later that same year. Large numbers of visitors clearly observed this.

Massive numbers of visitors come here all year round. But the most important date is May 13. There is a procession of candlelight which leads down to the sanctuary.

During the Adeus (farewell) procession, tearful crowds wave white handkerchiefs.

Since a congregation carries a statue of the Virgin Mary from the high altar to the Chapel . A second pilgrimage also takes place in October.

8.Iberian Mask festival

Iberian Mask festival

This is probably one of the best celebrations in Portugal. During the first week of May, the Iberian Mask Festival is held.

People wear quirky outfits and masks in this remarkable festival.

They march in the streets of Lisbon. The festival is held to celebrate the ethnic and cultural connections.

It exists in the Portuguese province of Spain. The four-day festivities encourage people to enjoy the nature of Iberian culture and to learn it.

The masks are the key aspect of the celebration. But the real typical Pagan masks in the Iberian Peninsula differ from region to region.

The masks still remind of the ancient roots of Spanish and Portuguese cultures.

9.Feast day of Saint Anthony

Feast day of Saint Anthony

During the festival of Saint Anthony, Lisbon’s Alfama district is decorated with lights and streamers. Besides, the restaurants and houses prepare grilling sardines on churrascos .

The tradition tells the story of how a fish from the sea to listen to the saint of the 13th century. Saint Anthony is also known as the saint of the matchmaker. Women fill their mouths with water till they hear the man’s name. 

10.Arraial Pride

Arraial Pride

The Arraial Pride is the largest gay pride festival since 1996. You can expect the usual fun and gaiety of music, food, and drink.

But it usually takes place at the end of June. Each year the precise date and location of the LGBT event vary.

11.Rock in Rio – Lisboa

Rock in Rio – Lisboa

This is one of Portugal’s biggest music festivals. It is based on its popular Brazilian predecessor, Rock in Rio. The four-day, music festival, held in Lisbon’s Bela Vista Park.

It attracts top international musicians and DJs. It also welcomes blossoming talents to deliver on the World Stage. The Rock 2020 will be held in Rio-Lisboa from 20-21 and 27-28 June.

12.Festa de Sao Joao 

Festa de Sao Joao

The ceremony pays homage to St John the Baptist.  It is celebrated for more than 600 years in Porto in June.

This ends with street parties and music. The party continues until late into the evening.

Party-goers unleash sky lanterns and balloons and appreciate fireworks display at midnight. They keep on celebrating till the morn.

The people will bash each other over the head with plastic hammers . Young men are also tossing garlic roses at women.

13.NOS Primavera Sound

NOS Primavera Sound

It is one more important music festival in Portugal, you can take part in Nos Primavera.

This festival is prompted by the large scale event in Barcelona. Both are funded by NOS.

The event falls in June and explores a sequence of artistic variety. It is one of the best electronic festivals in Portugal, with numerous performers.

14.Festa dos Tabuleiros

Festa dos Tabuleiros

Girls parade around the streets of Tomar during the first two weeks of July. They carry heaps of bread on their heads as a component of the ancient Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays).

It is also regarded as Festa do Divino Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit Festival). The event is not only the largest but also the most phenomenal procession.

This takes place every four years, however.

People just walk in pairs with the women wearing tabuleiros; these are headdresses made of bread lined in rows.

They are bedecked with flowers and capped with crowns or doves. There are other typical processions besides the major parade.

15.Festa dos Colete Encarnado

Festa dos Colete Encarnado

Festa do Colete Encarnado (or Red Waistcoat Festival) is Portugal’s response to the running of bulls in Pamplona.

It derives its name from the traditional red waistcoats donned by regional campinos.

The three-day festival usually starts every year with a procession. It honors the campino (cowboy) in the city square and into the streets.

Then the bulls run loose down Vila Franca de Xira streets.Men try to stay out of their way because there have been fatalities in the past during the festival.

16.Feira de Sao

Feira de Sao

The hilltop town of Viseu is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Europe, along with the Spanish frontier.

Viseu is also the host of Southern Portugal’s longest festival procession. The Feira de São Mateus is a sequence of feasts memorializing Saint Matthew.

17.Feira Nacional do Cavalo

Feira Nacional do Cavalo

Presently, thousands of people come to Feira Nacional do Cavalo (National Horse Fair) to celebrate the two-week festivities.

In other words, is one of the country’s most powerful and influential horse-related festivals.

18.Sao Martinho

Sao Martinho

Every year, Saint Martin’s Day is observed on 11 of November. Saint Martin was a Roman soldier who gave his coat to a beggar to keep him warm; Therefore, the sun went out to cover him up.

As a result, warm winter days are called the Summer of Saint Martin. This is when the chestnuts get to ripen.

And the season’s first wine is fully prepared . Each season–named Magusto–the Portuguese celebrate with bonfires and celebrations.

The abundance of chestnuts and chestnut dishes will be present. After that they also drink a soft wine made from dregs.

In addition to it, northern Trás-os-Montes, Beira Baixa (especially Alcains), Golegã and Penafiel are the Saint Martin’s Day festivals of Portugal.

19.Christmas

Christmas

The biggest Christmas event on December 24 is Midnight Mass. Inaddition to octopus dinner, it is  accompanied by a popular bacalhau, ham, or Trás-os-Montes .

20.New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve Fest is Portugal’s most exciting event. In other words,it will greatly boost the level of your enthusiasm.

Those who watch out for festivals in Portugal, New Year’s Eve is absolutely the best one to proceed with.

Above all ,you can party hard through the Three-day festival marking the New Year.

Related questions

1.What is Carnival in Portugal?

The carnival is the largest festival of the year in Portugal. Meanwhile it brings people from all over the world.

Carnival usually occurs in February, just before lent starts and ihis marks the end of winter as well. It is also the season of abandonment of meat.

Indeed, in Portugal, the carnival generally lasts about three weeks.

2.What are the traditions in Portugal?

Many Portuguese traditions faded away over time. Fado, Galo de Barcelos, the azulejos, the calçada, the Rancho still  influence the culture of Portuguese. 

3.What is Portugal known for?

Portugal is renowned not only for its beaches, but also for food and the football heartthrob Cristiano Ronaldo.

4.What is the traditional dress of Portugal?

Traditional Portuguese is comprised of bouffant dresses for women made from saia (chequered or striped materials). Calsas, short leggings, sombreros, and men’s waistcoats are also the traditional attires.

Women sometimes carry a kerchief also. But this has a lot of variation depending on the region they belong to.

5.What is the Portuguese dance called?

The vira is another traditional Portugalian dance. It is the most popular in Minho however it is practiced in all regions.

10 Vibrant Portugal Festivals