Back to main blog page

Carnaval In Portugal!

Many cities and towns come to a complete stop while long parades of adults and children in fancy dress, and beautifully decorated carnival floats glitter their way through the streets. Although some processions have taken place already the main ones will start this coming Friday and over weekend.  Last year we were in Quarteira  and saw a lovely procession of children dressed as anything from bombeiros, artists and cats and Oliveira do Hospital has an old tradition of gathering all the schools in the local area in a big Carnival parade (Desfile de Carnaval, this year it is on 1st March) more than 1400 students will parade through the streets of the city filling it with colour, music and joy.


Portugal isn’t alone in its celebrations at this time of year, many people will know of the famous Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and over the years the celebration has spread to France, Spain and many other catholic countries. It is said that the Carnival tradition started Italy many centuries ago with worshipers holding a costume festival the night before the first day of Lent. Carnival now is one of the largest of all festivals in Portugal, starting just before Lent, signalling of the end of the winter and the giving up of meat, (Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during this period, hence the reason the festival is traditionally named Carnevale – ‘to put away the meat’) this said it’s not an especially religious festival now in Portugal and celebrations continue well past Ash Wednesday when most religious carnivals would end, it can (and often does) last weeks! Portugal loves to party! 

This is a time when as a visitor or newcomer to Portugal you can truly see the country at its very best, food stalls line the streets, music plays, people dance. It’s a great time to get out and meet local people, practice your Portuguese and form new friendships!

You could go to Torres Vedras carnival 1st – 6th March which has strong traditions such as floats, masked revellers, figures wearing large carved masks and of course traditional drums and bagpipe or you could visit the celebrations at Funchal on Madeira island between 26th Feb – 10th March – wherever you are, fear not, with hundreds of other local processions there is bound to be one near you!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.