+351 912 818 818
(call cost to national mobile network)
+351 912 818 818
(call cost to national mobile network)

Carnival in Portugal (Part III)

Carnival in Portugal (Part  III)

Although Lisbon does not have a hugely strong carnival tradition, there are cities on the outskirts of the capital that spend all year thinking about Carnival. Sadly, the time when Lisbon had one of the country's great Carnival parades, with several floats going down Avenida da Liberdade is long gone. The city of Lisbon saves itself for Santo António and leaves the Carnival festivities to other cities. Even though the capital doesn’t celebrate the carnival season with so many big events, you can still find people dancing and groups celebrating Carnival all around the city. 

Approximately 15 km from Lisbon, we find the city of Loures. The Loures Carnival is one of the biggest in the Lisbon region. Carnival originated in this city in the early years of the twentieth century. Years later, however, this Carnival was banned given the enormous popularity it had achieved.  

It was only in the 1970s that Carnival began again in Loures, and since then it has never stopped. It’s currently considered the biggest event in the municipality, with 1800 participants. The festivities bring tens of thousands of people to the city every year.   

The Carnaval Saloio, as the Carnaval de Loures is known, includes the famous balls and the burial of the king. There is plenty of fun, music all with a hint of satire, of course.   

Going down to the Alentejo, the city of Évora holds another popular tradition. This tradition goes back to the time of Gil Vicente and with him came the "Brincas" of Évora, an old tradition of a community theatre performance. The "Brinca" are a group of men who got together to perform a popular dramatisation during the carnival season, through rhyming texts accompanied by choreography and music, a tradition that has remained until today.  

In Sines, Carnival is very different. Here there is a mixture of satirical spirit, bringing together the creativity of the Portuguese celebrations with the brightness and energy of the Brazilian Carnival creating a vibrant spectacle that involves the whole city. This celebration has almost taken place for 100, and is an event that truly makes an impact. 

Further south in the country, in the Algarve, there are various towns where Carnival is celebrated with all its might.

We have to start with Moncarapacho, which names itself the oldest Carnival in the Algarve, and this year will celebrate 124 years of Carnival. The floats begin being prepared in January, and are decorated with paper flowers all made with the collaboration of the local population. This gives Moncarapacho Carnival its nickname "Batalha das Flores" (Battle of the Flowers) and the floats here are known for their elaborate decorations.  

Now, Algarvians like a good dance, and Carnival is no exception. 

The Carnival of Loulé is a mixture of bright colours, extravagant costumes and a lots of people in the streets participating in the parade. This Carnival here is a big tourist attraction, since in the Algarve the weather is milder and attracts Portuguese residents and tourists to celebrate Carnival in the winter sun. However in Loulé, the Carnival festivities were not always peaceful. In the past, they were even known to be quite aggressive. Oranges were thrown at passers-by, as well as rotten eggs, corn and beans, among other things. From 1906 onwards, this Carnival became a more "Civilised Carnival", more like the one we know today.   

Flying over to our islands, the Carnival festivities in Madeira also attract many tourists and is one of the great highlights of the year. According to some historians the origins of the Madeiran Carnival date back to the sugar production period. When the international sugar trade in the Atlantic started to expand from the island of Madeira, so did the recreational traditions that influenced carnival traditions in Brazil. Years later, with the emigration from Brazil to the island of Madeira began, the Brazilian carnival influenced the Madeiran carnival, becoming the fusion of culture it is today. 

Further inland we find the "Festa dos compadres", a tradition dating back more than 50 years, which marks the beginning of the Carnival festivities. Irony and sarcasm, as well as a lot of social criticism, are very evident in this party. Tradition has it that the "compadres" and the "comadres" would get together to see who was the most original. There was even a war of the sexes, where they took the opportunity to expose the "dirt" on their neighbours, and the winners were the most original and the funniest.    

With so many traditions, music, dance and entertainment, it would be hard not to be in the mood to travel and experience a different Carnival this year.  

Put on your best costume and put aside any hesitation, after all...  

 "It's Carnival, nobody takes it badly"  

(popular Portuguese proverb)

Written by: Cláudia Ferreira