From north to south of the country, passing through the islands, Carnival is synonymous with party, revelry and tradition. Every year, many localities gear up for the biggest party of the year, the Carnival. Parades are organized, floats are decorated and samba is imported, but always with the Portuguese identity well present. All About Portugal invites you to join the party, whether in a simple disguise, as a "matrafona", a "Careto" or a "Zé Pereira", the important thing is to join the game! And, as the Portuguese saying goes: life is two days, but Carnival is three.
The Carnival of Madeira is, without a doubt, one of the best in Europe! Traditionally, there are two parades: the Allegorical Parade is the main attraction of the Madeiran Carnival and, in the Trapalhão Parade, everyone can participate! The streets of the city centre are full, and social and political satire reign. The whole festive atmosphere is reminiscent of the epic Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Torres Vedras Carnival is considered the “most Portuguese of Portugal”, having become popular due to its satirical charge. The reception to the Carnival Kings, the floats, the groups of "cabeçudos" (giant heads), and the musical group “Zés Pereiras” delight the whole crowd. All this without forgetting the famous "matrafonas" (men who dress in exuberant women's clothing). The burning or burial of the Carnival dummy ends the revelry.
The Alcobaça Carnival is, by contrast, considered the "most Brazilian of Portugal". Here, Carnival does not last three, but five days! It is also customary for people to go out into the street dressed in white. The epicentre of the festival is in the giant tent, usually located in front of the Alcobaça Monastery, where most of the carnival celebrations take place and the funeral of the so-called Entrudo (period that anticipates the holy season of Lent) takes place on the last day, as tradition dictates.
Since 1952, Ovar's “Organized Carnival” is a must-stop and worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. The best carnival concerts are held at Espaço Folião, with the party venue at Carnival Village welcoming thousands of people, day and night. At the end of the 10 days of celebration, the best float, as well as the King and Queen of Carnival, are chosen!
In Loulé, one of the hottest Carnivals in the country is celebrated! Join the oldest and most famous carnival in Portugal, always full of political and social satire and still featuring floats, samba schools, "gigantones" (giant dummies), "cabeçudos", and the famous Battles of Flowers. Enjoy and be part of the traditional Carnival Gala.
It is in Sesimbra that one of the most beautiful Carnivals in the country is lived, where the local community has an important role. The Trapalhões Ball gives the starting signal and traditions are not left out, with the "Cegadas", the "Cavalhadas", the centenary street theatres and the Tripa Mijona group. It is also in Sesimbra that happens one of the largest parades of clowns in the world. Traditionally, the Burial of the Cod closes the programme.
It is in the city where the navigator Vasco da Gama was born that took place the first nocturnal Carnival parade in the country. The sounds and costumes of Brazil take over Sines and the normally peaceful environment is invaded by revelry. On Humberto Delgado Avenue, be dazzled by samba groups, musicians, acrobats, "cabeçudos", and "gigantones". The three nights of celebration end with the traditional Masquerade Ball.
Podence, Macedo de Cavaleiros
The Podence Caretos are the protagonists of one of the most traditional Carnivals in Portugal. Confusion sets in in the village, with the boys and men wearing colourful shades of rattles at the waist and pointed nose masks. Their favourite target? Single women. In turn, on Tuesday of Carnival, the Burning of the "Entrudo" takes place.
Mealhada Carnival has a Brazilian accent and a lot of samba, being better known as the Bairrada Luso-Brazilian Carnival. Noteworthy is the Trapalhão Parade, typically Portuguese, and the parade of groups of samba schools. The Tuesday's procession of Entrudo is joined by the Wine Festival, with free distribution of this delicacy to the spectators of the processions.
Elvas International Carnival brings together the Portuguese and Spanish people due to its geographical proximity. The Carnival is lived for five days, but reaches its peak with the floats parade and the Trapalhão Carnival, with the festive help, of course, of individuals and groups alike, who prepare their choreography months in advance.