How often do we catch ourselves dreaming about visiting the charming country of Portugal, with its scenic geography and postcard-perfect-pictures of its beautiful cities, in all its natural glory? The Sherp brings you the perfect list of festivals that adorn the country and why it should feature in your travel plans.
1. Festa de São João
When: June 23, 2016
While this festival has not catered to the masses as commercially as some of the big guns on the event calendar, the Festival of John the Baptist, revolves around the theme of love, giving the visitors an excuse to don their dancing shoes and participate in elaborate feasts. The festivities begin on the night of June 23rd and go on well into the next morning. Termed as a recreation of an ancient pagan courting ritual, it stems from a tradition of beating the one you love with cloves of garlic, leeks and hammers. The agenda includes all night-dances, barbecues, generous amounts of wine for those who wish to indulge in the same, and illuminated lanterns released into the night. Very Disney’s Tangled, but less kid friendly and an older fan following, if you will.
2. Boom Festival
When: August 11-18, 2016
Where: Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
If you are looking for music performances coupled with the wholesome experience of workshops and art exhibitions, look no further than the Boom Festival held in central Portugal. What makes this festival unique is the importance that it gives to performing arts, such as circus, street theatre, jugglers, fire shows, film screenings, and so much more talent from across boundaries. The festival emphasizes focus on clean energy and using biodegradable products to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint. Participants are also encouraged to recycle their waste at every opportunity.
3. Rock in Rio
When: May 19-28, 2016
The year was 1985, and after a significant period of military dictatorship, Brazil began taking its baby steps into democracy. At a time when several countries in South America lived in similar times, Brazil was the first country to receive a musical event of this kind. Rock in Rio was born and this edition brought with it the likes of AC / DC, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, and Queen. The Portuguese edition followed the path taken by the Rock in Rio 2001 with a star studded line-up including Metallica, Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Incubus. About 80 countries watched the broadcast concerts. The line-up for the 2016 edition includes Bruce Springsteen, Fergie, Avicii, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5 among several others.
4. NOS Alive
When: July 7-9, 2016
NOS Alive, formerly known as Optimus Alive, is the leading music festival that takes place at Algés riverside, in Oeiras, Portugal. The first edition took place in 2007 and over the years has gained immense popularity across the world, with the UK magazine NME placing it in one of the top 12 European festivals in 2009. In 2016, the festival will celebrate its 10th edition and has already announced Arcade Fire, Pixies, Chemical Brothers, Wolf Alice, M83, Radiohead and many more.
5. Super Bock, Super Rock
When: July 14-16
Named after its principal sponsor Super Bock beer, the festival has been luring many rock and metal fans from its inception in 1994. Over time, Super Bock Super Rock came to become the biggest rock festival to be held in Portugal and the only one to celebrate 20 consecutive years of the best music. The National, Kurt Vile, Mac Demarco, Jamie XX, Bloc Party are some of the artists lined up for the performances this year.
6. Festa Das Cruzes
When: 30 April – 4 May, 2016
The origin of this festival is a rather interesting one. The story goes that a cobbler in the sixteenth century came to pass the Fair Field and he saw on the ground a black cross that dug deep into the earth. This fact gave birth to the belief to the ‘Lord of the Cross’, through centuries up to the present day. The Procession of the Crosses, the Battle of Flowers, musical performances and fireworks sessions are the attractions of the Festival of Crosses, which hosts hundreds of religion-oriented parties.
7. Vaca das Cordas & Corpus Christi
When: 27th May, 2016
Where: Ponte de Lima
This unusual tradition usually takes place on the ninth Friday after Easter and dates back to Roman times with Phoenician origins. A bull is supposedly tied to a long rope and let loose on the streets, daring young men to face it, unafraid, as it passes them. After three laps of the Parish church and back to the streets, the tired bull is led to the river or the beach to quench its thirst. It’s followed the next day by the more pious Festa do Corpo de Deus, with religious processions and flowers carpeting the streets. While one can compare this to a similar tradition in Spain, you have a much lesser risk of being run over by a single bull as opposed to a stampede in Spain.
8. Festa da Mae Soberana
When: 27 March, 2016
Festa da Mae Soberana or ‘Feast of the Sovereign Mother’, the patron saint of Loulé, takes place every year on Easter Sunday. The statue of the patron saint is brought down from its sanctuary to the Church of São Francisco, and it proceeds to stay there until the Festa Grande 2 weeks later. In the morning of the “Big Feast”, the statue leaves in a procession from the Church of São Francisco, onwards to the Engineer Duarte Pacheco Monument, where a religious service is held. In the afternoon, the Eucharist is celebrated at the Church of São Francisco, followed by the procession through the main streets of the city. The day ends with a traditional show of fireworks. Thousands of faithful believers arrive in Loulé to witness one of the most religious ceremonies of the country.
9. Meo Sudoeste
When: August 6-10
Where: Zambujeira do Mar
Festival Sudoeste is a five-day music festival that was founded in 1997 and takes place in southern Portugal. The festival has three stages which play different music simultaneously. In the 2006 edition, the main stage (Palco TMN) had acts as The Prodigy, Daft Punk, Zero 7 (with José González), Brazilian Girls, Long Beach Shortbus, and Madness, among many others. The style of the second stage is more alternative than that of the main stage. Anyone who purchases a four-night ticket is allowed to camp for free. During the day, the festival features a jazz bar and a free shuttle service to the nearby town of Zambujeira do Mar for activities such as shopping, eating, and taking a trip to the beach. The line-up for 2016 includes James Morrison, Steve Angello, and Yellow Claw.
10. Edp Cooljazz
When: July 1-31, 2016
Picture a summer breeze, fine music and enchanting gardens. If that picture looks like your ultimate scenario, EDP Cooljazz is your go-to music festival. High quality and high mix is the motto of the festival that presents leading contemporary singers and instrumentalists in unique locations close to Lisbon. Did we mention how unbelievable the stunning open-air locations are? And if you are a travel buff that prides on history, take the opportunity to learn more about this region. In the era that went by, this zone served as the pleasure grounds for kings and noblemen. Beautiful palaces and museums, busy and quiet beaches, fine restaurants; you name it and you can have it. We bet you will have a severe experiential hangover when you’ve left.