In the summer, music festivals multiply, offering eclectic line-ups, bands for all tastes and (still) the cheapest in Europe. To help you with your choices, All About Portugal tells you a bit about the history and characteristics of some of the most important national festivals. Weighted all the factors, from line-up to location, book a weekend or, if you can, draw a more complete itinerary for a memorable musical holiday.
NOS Primavera Sound
It opens the season of the summer festivals in Portugal. Younger brother of Barcelona's Primavera Sound, it takes place in the Porto's City Park since 2011. With perfect green scenery, relaxed atmosphere and a poster of excellence, it has become mandatory for the most demanding music lovers, a festival one cannot do without. Enjoy the experience, from the wreaths to the picnic blankets. With a well-nourished soul, feed your body in the small restaurants with the delicacies of Portuguese cuisine.
"The best poster, ever!" is the official slogan, which comes close to the truth. Year after year, the bar is still high, having been considered one of the best festivals in Europe by prestigious publications, such as New Musical Express. Some of the biggest names in the international rock scene, such as Pearl Jam, White Stripes, The Cure, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys or Rage Against The Machine, have already passed through the grounds of the festival, in the Algés Maritime Promenade, Oeiras. The paradise for any rocker.
Super Bock Super Rock
Just like cats, Super Bock Super Rock also had several lives. It can be said that it is the "chameleon" of the Portuguese festivals, since it has changed several times its storefront. Started in Alcantara in 1995, and soon, in the second edition, it presented its biggest star: David Bowie. It moved from city to city, divided between Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra, settling on Meco Beach in 2010, where it returned for the 2019 edition. Ideal for those who like to camp and escape to the beach in the heat.
MEO Marés Vivas
Who would have thought that the small festival created in 1999, in an almost amateurish way, would become an annual pilgrimage for the northern (and not only) festival lovers? From Areinho Beach, where it began to write its history, to the site of the Antiga Seca do Bacalhau (old Codfish Drying) in Cabedelo, it was a long journey, always with the Douro as background, with its breathtaking view. The poster is eclectic, focusing on national artists as well as global stars such as Elton John or Sting.
EDP Cool Jazz
Throughout the month of July there is "cool" music to listen to in Cascais. The Manuel Possolo Hippodrome and the Marechal Carmona Park receive the most important names of jazz, soul, funk, pop rock and even fado, in an intimate and sophisticated environment, very different from other festivals. We can call it a mature festival, with a poster that invariably brings together rising and consecrated stars such as Tom Jones, David Byrne or KRAFTWERK.
Festival Músicas do Mundo
It is a festival without borders. Folk, blues, tango, reggae, classical music, African rhythms or fusion of the most diverse cultural expressions from the four corners of the world - everything fits here, provided there is quality. This has been the case since 1999, the year in which the Músicas do Mundo settled between Sines and the picturesque village of Porto Covo. A beautiful way to honour the renowned local Vasco da Gama, a navigator who, in the 1500s, gave more worlds to the world, opening roads to other peoples, cultures and sounds.
Sumol Summer Fest
Because music combines with holiday, Ericeira Beach receives, in July, the first great beach party of the summer. The poster is usually heterogeneous, favouring the sounds of hip hop, rap, reggae, house and R & B. Between a dance floor, and sunbathing and sea, there is also space for extreme sports such as skateboarding and, of course, surfing. After all, aren't we in what was considered the first World Surfing Reserve in Europe?
Far from the city, the neon lights and the freebies of the big brands, there is a different festival. In August, the village of Cem Soldos, in Tomar, is itself a festival. The 10 stages, built by the population and where only national artists perform, are integrated in the streets and squares, garages and mills or even churches. In addition to the great music, there are crafts, theatre, dance, debates and workshops that bring together festival lovers of all ages. Enjoy life in the countryside!
Viana do Castelo is, for four days, the "international capital of techno". Next to the Fort of Santiago da Barra, in the evening and until the sun rises, the stage is home to some of the biggest stars in electronic music, from house to techno, between DJ Sets and live performances. Year after year, since 2005, the festival has established itself across borders with a poster full of well-known names in the industry, attracting more and more festival lovers to Viana. They come from all over Europe, with a desire to dance.
Images from the first edition of the Sudoeste, in 1997, were seen around the world. Who doesn't remember seeing the festival-goers covered in dust? The Casa Branca Estate near the beach of Zambujeira do Mar was far from ideal, but the poster was something never before seen in Portugal, with names like Blur, Suede or the much feared but also idolized Marilyn Manson taking the stage. Over the past few years, the grass-covered enclosure began to present well-known names of the dance music scene, and continues to drag crowds.
Vodafone Paredes de Coura
They call it "Couraíso" and it is not by accident. In the natural amphitheatre of the Fluvial Beach of Taboão, when you least expect it, magic happens. Arcade Fire, Nick Cave, Sonic Youth or Benjamin Clementine may very well have been, for many, "the concert of their lives". The careful and coherent programming, the alliance of consecrated and new artists, as well as a series of other more or less extreme sports on the banks of the river and in the cosy village, make of Paredes de Coura the place where you want to return to, always!
O Sol da Caparica
A "radical" festival very close to Lisbon. In the Costa da Caparica Urban Park, right next to the beach, Brazilian and African rhythms join some of the biggest names in Portuguese music for a four-day party. Apart from music, from hip hop to rock, from fado to samba to funk, a varied and energetic programme is guaranteed, which includes, for example, skateboarding, surfing and bodyboarding experiences. Beach, sun and music: the perfect combination!
EDP Vilar de Mouros
After a first tentative rehearsal in 1965, Portugal received its first international music festival in 1971. Elton John and Manfred Mann, among others, performed to about 30 000 people, in a climate of pure freedom, in a kind of "Woodstock" to the Portuguese. In 1981, the stars of the festival were the U2, before an interregnum of more than a decade, followed by some intermittent editions. It returned in full-force in 2014 and the focus on bands of success of the 80s and 90s has borne fruit.
It is "the last great summer festival". At the beginning of September, the stages scattered in various parts of the historical centre of Faro receive some of the biggest names in Portuguese music, not forgetting, also, new talents. In addition to music, there is cinema, stand-up comedy, plastic arts, crafts, literature, talks and a set of activities designed for children. A beautiful way to end a family holiday season. Next year there's more!
Bonus 1: Rock in Rio Lisboa
Every two years, the Parque da Bela Vista, in Lisbon, fills with thousands of festival-goers for the biggest musical spectacle in the country, where some of the biggest stars on the planet have already performed: Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Metallica, Bruno Mars and the unforgettable Ivete Sangalo, who has "stirred up dust". At the same time, between giant wheels, games and gifts, one fights "for a better world", with music as universal language.
Bonus 2: Boom Festival
In the even years, under the auspices of the full moon of August, a festival that says "visionary" happens in Idanha-a-Nova. In a spirit of communion with Nature, freedom and cultural and spiritual sharing, festivals, of dozens of nationalities and of all ages, celebrate the art, culture and alternative ways of life, always to the sound of the best trance and psychedelic rock. The programme includes conferences and workshops on spirituality, good environmental practices and other topics.