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Carnival in Portugal (Part II)

Carnival in Portugal (Part  II)

Nazaré is already on the world map for its incredible giant waves, and we already how popular it is for pro surfers. Nazaré is also a very popular place during Carnival, and one of the cities that follows the tradition of the “Entrudo” festivals. The street dances and parades with floats attract many visitors, and brings together the local population, young and old. The Carnival of Nazaré holds one of the most typical Portuguese Carnivals, where you can hear traditional Portuguese music and watch marches. It is a fantastic place for those who want to experience a truly Portuguese Carnival.  

In Alcobaça and Figueira da Foz, on the contrary, we find a Carnival that shares more similarities to carnivals in Brazil where, despite the cold, women display wear just small pieces of bright, sparkly clothing dancing to the sound of the samba. Feathers and sequins are everywhere and the city’s good mood and atmosphere will make you forget the cold of the winter and for three days, it feels just like summer in Portugal, celebrating Carnival in true Brazilian style.  

We descend a little further on the map of the country and find the most famous Carnival in Portugal. Carnival is undoubtedly the most animated and important time of the year for the Torrienses (Torres Vedras inhabitants). The city stops to celebrate Carnival. For 5 days no reveller stops at home because the party takes place in the streets. 

Torres Vedras, about 50 km from the centre of Lisbon completes 100 years of Carnival this year. It is a place that loves celebrating its traditions during this festive season. The parade brings together revellers and masqueraders for all tastes and all ages. In this carnival we find many "matrafonas" (men dressed as women), the traditional "cabeçudos" (costumes with giant puppets) and the "kings of carnival". Tradition has it that the selection of the kings of the carnival is made in the community to play this role, as well as their symbols, this tradition has persisted since 1923, this day being the date that marks the beginning of the Carnival. It is known as the most Portuguese Carnival in Portugal, and it is also the biggest. The Carnival of Torres Vedras receives about half a million visitors during the 5 days of festivities. The parade is animated with popular Portuguese music where social satire is never lacking. 

South of Lisbon is Sesimbra which is very popular during the Carnival season. In Sesimbra we find a mixture between the traditional Carnival and the influence of the Brazilian Carnival. The parade of the Samba Schools and the Axé groups, by the sea, the procession of clowns and the balls cannot be missed, but what makes the difference in this Carnival are the "Cegadas", a century-old custom from the countryside, which promote satires in various parts of the city. 

The carnival of Sesimbra is known for the "Corso de Palhaços" which was once considered the largest in the world, the dances of the collectivities and the "trapalhão" parade. On Ash Wednesday, the famous Burial of the Codfish takes place, a humorous procession through the streets of the town. The main figures are the widow of the deceased and his mistresses, only discovered on the day of the funeral. 

The festivities of the Portuguese Carnival don't stop there. Further south we find more parades, good mood and lots of music.  

In the next article, we'll talk about the festivities in the Algarve and the "festa dos compadres", typical of the archipelago of Madeira.

Written by: Cláudia Ferreira