Lisboa: city festivals

©Manjericos, Santo António Festivities.  Lisboa
Lisbon takes to the street to celebrate the Popular Saints festival. Fires for barbecuing, colourful processions, the smell of sweet basil and fortune telling fill the city.

Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon, calls his people out for celebration over many nights but the highpoint is definitely on the night of June 12th. The city is packed with colour for the processions and festivities. Months of works go into preparing the marches that make their way down the main avenue in a blaze of colour and sound.

It is in the most traditional neighbourhoods, from the Alfama to Castelo, that the Saint and his customs that make Lisbon so special hold particular sway. In the squares where the narrow alleys and steep stairways meet up, restaurant terraces are set up for ‘caldo verde’ soup and grilled sardines underneath bright decorations and to the sound of ‘arraial’ folk music.This is one of the most picturesque dimensions to Lisbon at night and a place where old and young join up to enjoy.

Saint Anthony is also patron saint of weddings providing another tradition that lives on: the ‘Noivas de Santo António’ (Brides of Saint Anthony). Hundreds of Lisbon couples await the day when their council throws them an unforgettable wedding ceremony.

Arrive before June 13th to experience the best of the build up in a city given over to dancing and eating: under the streamers and balloons, dance and enjoy, read fortunes and give gifts of sweet basil.

In the cities of Porto and Braga, they celebrate St. John while elsewhere St. Peter is the patron saint.

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