10 Vibrant Portuguese Festivals You Must Attend

festival decorations hanging above a street

Posted by on 28 Feb 2023

Portugal boasts countless fun and unique festivals celebrating everything from sand sculptures and electronic music.

If you’re heading to the gorgeous country any time soon, attending at least one of these exciting celebrations is an excellent way to experience Portuguese culture.

Read on to discover the best Portuguese celebrations you should pencil into your Portugal travel itinerary.

10 Most Interesting Festivals in Portugal for Your Next Getaway

Iberian Mask Festival

One of the most awe-inspiring Portuguese festivals is the Iberian Mask Festival. During this four-day festivity, everyone wears colourful masks and celebrates the cultural and historical ties between the Spanish and Portuguese regions.

It’s an incredible showcase of the city’s artistic and cultural history through live music concerts, parades, exhibitions, and workshops.

There are also handicrafts booths and food and drink vendors to check out. The highlight of the event is the parades, where masked Iberian groups in interesting costumes parade along the streets of Lisbon.

National Gastronomy Festival

The National Gastronomy Festival is an excellent opportunity to sample the best of Portuguese cuisine. The celebration is held annually in Santarém from October to November.

You’ll be able to taste the finest spices, aromatic herbs, cheeses, convent sweets, and fresh fish here, among many other local delicacies.

ID No Limits Festival

Another interesting celebration to check out is the ID NO Limits Festival, formerly the Lisboa Dance Festival, showcasing Portuguese urban street culture and electronic music.

Though it’s a relatively new contemporary event, it’s already popular among locals passionate about the electronic, techno, and house music scene.

The event includes creative workshops, talks, and concerts featuring a distinctive lineup of musicians and artists.

Carnival of Madeira

Held forty days before Easter, the Carnival of Madeira is a major festival celebrated in the first half of the year in Madeira.

It’s most known for its spectacular carnival parades, where people come together dressed in magnificent costumes to dance to samba music through the streets.

Costume competitions and live music performances are also held throughout the city.

Festa dos Tabuleiro

Festa dos Tabuleiro, translated as the Festival of the Trays, happens only once every four years in Tomar, Portugal.

This celebration is a feast for the eyes–from the blessing of the trays to the quilts that locals use to decorate their windows. But perhaps the most dazzling sight is the Procession of the Tabuleiros.

During the procession, young women wearing white dresses each carry a tabuleiro (tray headdress) as tall as they are. The tabuleiro comprises 30 loaves of bread, each weighing 400 grams, spread across 5 or 6 canes tied to a wicker basket.

On top of the headdress is a crown with the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Ghost, decorated with greenery, paper flowers, and white sheaves.

Terras sem Sombra Festival

The Terras sem Sombra Festival is an annual sacred music festival in Portugal where you can enjoy beautiful sacred music being played at beautiful monuments in the Alentejo.

Thematic lectures, conferences, and live concerts are among the activities planned during these celebrations.

It also allows visitors to admire the region’s impressive collection of historically significant churches that make up Alentejo’s illustrious heritage.

Festa de São João do Porto

Festa de São João do Porto, also known as the Festival of St. John of Porto, is a Midsummer festival celebrated in Porto, in the northern part of Portugal.

This Portuguese festival sees crowds from all over the country come to Porto to pay tribute to St. John the Baptist with a spectacular party that starts in the afternoon and lasts until the early morning hours.

When it was considered a pagan feast, it was a tradition to hang a leek on a house’s wall for good luck. For this reason, you’ll see some people holding a wilting leek flower while walking around the city centre.

Festas de Lisboa

The Festas de Lisboa, or Feast Day of St. Anthony, is a joyful event celebrated every year on June 12th. It’s a special day that commemorates Lisbon’s most revered saint.

Though there’s only one day dedicated to him, month-long religious and non-religious celebrations take place across Lisbon.

Exhibitions, theatre shows, concerts, parties, puppet shows, and sports events are held all over the city.

The celebration is also unofficially called “the sardine festival” because sardines are abundant during warmer seasons, and June is when summer arrives in Portugal. As such, plenty of grilled sardine dishes are served in restaurants and parties.

International Sand Sculpture Festival

The International Sand Sculpture Festival (FIESA) is held anually some time between May and December in Pera, Algarve.

Sand artists from around the world come together to carve sculptures made out of over 40,000 tonnes of sand across 15,000 square meters. Some sculptures are as tall as 12 meters high.

Visitors can also attend workshops, grab a bite to eat from food trucks and vendors, and listen to live music at the festival. On weekends, there is typically an elaborate fireworks show by the beach.

Bienal de Cerveira

The Bienal de Cerveira, or Cerveira International Arts Biennial, is the oldest art festival in Portugal.

It turns the municipality of Vila Nova de Cerveira in the Minho region into a bustling hub for the latest in contemporary art.

For the duration of the festivities, the town will host exhibitions, conferences, and activities that celebrate all areas of contemporary art, such as engraving, digital arts, painting, ceramics, and sculpture.

It’s a great opportunity to see the works of national and international artists and designers on display and meet with like-minded creative people from all walks of life.

Experience Portugal’s Diverse Culture

Portugal is the place to be if you’re seeking a destination with lots of history and vibrant culture. For your next holiday getaway, discover the magic and charm beyond the country’s coastal beaches and magnificent sceneries. Book holiday getaway packages or visit our website to learn more.

When experience matters