Known for its culture and history, Lisbon celebrates the summer with a host of festivals and events which make a great focal point for a holiday or weekend break in this coastal city.
Visitors in June will notice that the streets of Lisbon are decorated with colourful paper streamers. These are for the Festas de Lisboa, also known as the Santos Populares. The main saints’ days are for St Anthony on June 13, St John on June 23-24 and St Peter on June 28-29.
The huge St Anthony’s Parade, called the Marchas Populares, is preceded by the weddings of 12 couples in Lisbon’s parishes. They are driven through the streets in vintage cars to start the celebrations. The parade then begins from Avenida de Liberdade with folk dances and live samba music to entertain the crowds lining the streets.
St Peter’s Day has a beautiful boat procession on the River Tagus, a custom dating back to the Middle Ages.
The ongoing Festas de Lisboa includes cultural events, street parties and religious services. Local people exchange gifts of pots of basil and paper carnations with poems written on them as a sign of affection. Streets are filled with live music and dancing during the afternoon and evening parties see the local Lisboetas grilling sardines outside their homes and having huge street parties, particularly in the Alfama and Mouraria districts.
The last week in June is the time to head for the Feira Internacional de Lisboa Centre at Parque das Nacoes. The Handicrafts Fair highlights Portuguese crafts including tile painting, jewellery, pottery and collectibles.
This week-long festival is held at Santa Catarina Church on Calcada de Combo in late June/early July. Choirs and sacred musical performances take place in the church along with chamber music, films and a splendid exhibition of the church’s religious artifacts.
In early July this drama festival looks for new talent in performances spread between the Belem Cultural Centre, Almada Theatre and Culturgest venues. Dance, street theatre and exhibitions culminate in choosing an honoured piece for the following year.
Another music festival is held in the Alto da Ajuda district each year during July. Organised by Delta Coffee, it promotes well-known musicians from coffee-producing countries in a series of open-air concerts.
The Festival ao Largo is a lively arts festival held in the Sao Largo Square throughout July. It includes ballet, traditional Portuguese fado singers, drama and symphony orchestra concerts. In the past it has been attended by the Mozambique National Song and Dance Company, the Gulbenkian Orchestra and the National Ballet.
The last two weeks of July see Portugal’s Estoril Music Festival get underway with a varied musical program of classical and modern music.
Held annually at the Riverside Area between Alcantara and Nations Park the Festival dos Oceanos takes place the first two weeks of August. The free events include water jumps displays, a fluvial parade, concerts, street performances, nighttime opening of museums, fireworks and entertainment put on by the Lisbon Tourist Board.
Jazz lovers gather for this musical extravaganza of live jazz organized by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
A unique and unusual festival of magic provides a host of entertainment and amusement as international magicians gather to show off their skills each August.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook