How can so many traditions fit into such a small country by the sea?? Join us on a journey from north to south to discover Portugal’s identity, from the many religious and popular festivals to the varied cuisine and its sea-related traditions, as well as the beauty of Fado. ..
Popular Festivities. ..
In the summer months, let yourself be carried away by the crowds that come to the open-air dances, fairs and festivities that take place all over the country. In Porto, the month of June is celebrated with the St John’s Festivities and the magnificent fireworks over the River Douro. .. A show of colour that is not to be missed!
June is also when the Lisbon Festivities get the city dancing to the sound of street parties and the Popular Saints Marches - a parade of processions, organised by various traditional neighbourhood associations, which are great to get involved in. .. Besides music, dancing and grilled sardines, these Festivities are full of romance. .. they celebrate the Santo António Weddings when you can witness various couples in love saying ‘I do!’ at the Cathedral.
Would you like to experience (or relive) an academic bohemian atmosphere? There is nothing like a trip to Coimbra during the student festivities at the Ribbon Burning ceremony. But if you prefer something more idyllic, immerse yourself in a sea of flowers - visit the Campo Maior Festivities in the Alentejo and enjoy the beauty of a rural town covered in paper flowers! In the district of Faro, you can also learn to do the Corridinho Algarvio, the local folk dance, and join in the Popular Saints celebrations.
Madeira's street parties are also about folk music and eating meat cooked on skewers. Bolo do Caco is another Madeiran delicacy that you can try at these festivals, which take place during the summer months all over the island.
and religious processions
Religious faith is the driving force behind many of these annual events and festivities . .. These occasions are for celebration and fun, but we should not lose sight of the historical significance of these moments!
One good example is the Feast of Our Lady of Agony in Viana do Castelo, marked by processions and parades of "brides", dressed in traditional Minho costumes. A special feature is the local handmade jewellery that is very eye-catching - "Viana Gold” was recently made popular by actress Sharon Stone.
Some of these celebrations date back to the Middle Ages. In Tomar, in the Ribatejo region, you can get in touch with those roots - every four years the Festa dos Tabuleiros is held. Here, the highlight is the parade of women carrying trays of flowers, with a religious symbolism that goes back to the era of the Knights Templar.
In the Azores, the Feast of the Holy Spirit sees many emigrants return to the islands to participate in a tradition that dates back to when the island was first settled.
In Madeira, Christmas starts with the Childbirth Masses. This tradition, despite the early hour (they are held around 6 a.m.), is always very popular, both religious and pagan part. These masses take place in every parish on the island, nine days before Christmas. Each day represents one month of the Virgin Mary's pregnancy.
This time of year is also very lively on the islands: Carnival in Madeira has an extravagant parade that makes everyone very happy!! This tradition dates back to the 19th century and some historians believe it may have influenced the Carnival in Brazil!!
Lent is also celebrated with gusto all over the country. In the district of Bragança, the beginning of the year belongs to the fun of the Podence Carnival, when the locals dress up in folk masks and transform themselves into Caretos - supernatural creatures that play tricks on those who are distracted!
In the south, you can join the Loulé Carnival parade, the oldest in Portugal. Put on a mask and enjoy the popular humour and social satire to be found in the costumes and decorations of the floats. ..
All over the country, Fado is part of the soundtrack of everyday life! It is melancholic, melodic and beautiful music: a male or female voice sings songs of love, pain, joy, sadness and longing, with guitar accompaniment. You can often hear this music in "despique" sessions (duelling singers) in bars and restaurants, but Fado can also be heard in concert halls, clubs or even on the street.
The origins of Fado can be found in Lisbon and Coimbra, but this music is now an essential part of Portuguese culture and identity and is sung all over the country. A visit to Portugal is never complete without enjoying a good night of fado! We guarantee that emotions will run high and that the first chord will give you goosebumps. ..
Cuisine and Sea Traditions
The Portuguese have always been a people connected to the sea. You only have to travel along the coast to see the influence it has on culture, cuisine and daily life. ..
In the province of Beira, it is impossible to avoid the beauty of Nazaré . .. a traditional town in every way, from the fishing nets and boats to the folk costumes of the women who sell the fish! In Ria Formosa area of the Algarve, the locals gather shellfish with traditional tools, and on the Vicentine Coast, near Sagres, some take a risky approach to gather goose barnacles by climbing down the cliffs! A real adventure !!
Up and down the country you find fishermen who spend their lives on boats on the high seas and, as you would expect, the local cuisine is very much centred on fish and seafood - from the many cod and shellfish dishes to sardines, the sea has always given the Portuguese a menu of flavours which has something for everyone!
But they don’t only eat fish here. .. Portugal is also a land of farmers. In the Alentejo and the Algarve, you can enjoy the flavours of black pork. From the North comes the beef from which we get the best steaks for the traditional lunchtime bitoque!
And to wash it all down. .. a good wine, since wine production has long been one of the staple activities in Portugal.
Did you know, for example, that Independence Day in the United States was toasted with Madeira wine?
The grapes that go into this very special wine are harvested at the end of August and during the month of September. The grape harvest is celebrated all over the island of Madeira. .. the grapes are trodden in tanks and there are traditional parades, folk music and regional wine tastings.
For millennia, the "nectar of the gods" has been an essential part of southern European culture, Portugal included. From the strong wines of the Alentejo, to the fresh vinho verde of the Minho, the red wines of the Douro and port, there is no shortage of variety to liven up the meal and the soul!
The Experience !!
To discover Portuguese culture, you will need to stay a while . .. and a refuge of your own to rest up!
Stay with us at the PortoBay Liberdade or the PortoBay Marquês to discover fado and the Lisbon Festivals, or head to the PortoBay Falésia to appreciate fine Algarve cuisine with a meal served in front of a calm sea. .. To experience the festivities of São João right in the heart of Porto, you can choose between the PortoBay Flores and PortoBay Teatro hotels. You can also celebrate Carnival or New Year's Eve in Madeira with a stay at one of the seven PortoBay hotels on the island. .. options abound !! Make your reservation and we’ll take care of the rest!!