Portugal has been for years one of the pioneers in carnival festivities, transmitting them to several countries around the world over the centuries. Today, the country has a generous amount of carnivals throughout the country, including a large number of identity elements of the Portuguese culture. We invite you to know the 5 best carnivals of Portugal, from the most colorful to the mysterious.
We accompany you to know the 5 best Carnivals of Portugal..
Podence carnival is possibly one of the least known in the country, but it is without a doubt, one of the most interesting and enigmatic. Podence is located in the concejo de Macedo de Cavaleiros, northeastern Portugal.
It is not known exactly when these carnivals began to be present in the area, but many claim that it is a fertility ritual due to the nature of the characters involved. During the 20th century, the carnival was in danger of dying out, due to war conflicts and migrations. However, in the 1980s new associations were created to preserve and develop the carnivals. Due to its great cultural importance, the Podence Carnival was recognized as Immaterial Heritage of Humanity by Unesco..
The Podence Carnival is loaded with interesting events, including parades, exhibitions of art and theatrical performances. However, what stands out most in the whole celebration are the Caretos. These caretos are characters dressed in a yellow, red and green striped costume. In addition, they have a mask made of laton and hairs on their waist and back. The Caretos goes around the town, walking from one side to the other and stirring up the population. Likewise, he approaches women to jump in front of them and get their attention. Although it was exclusively men who used to wear the caretos costume, nowadays local boys and girls are part of the characters to help preserve the festivities.
Other highlights of the celebration are the parade of the Marafonas, which is a large parade of transvestite men and the burning of the entrudo, which marks the end of the festivities.
The Podence Carnival will be held approximately from Saturday, February 13 to Tuesday, February 16.
Madeira Island Carnival is one of the biggest and most anticipated celebrations on the entire island during the winter season. The carnival is held in the city of Funchal. Carnival is a great colorful celebration that allows all the inhabitants of the island to share with friends, neighbors and family. In addition, it is an incredible colorful spectacle influenced by the Brazilian carnivals.
Carnivals in Madeira have been present since the 16th century. However, the original carnivals were different from the current ones. Because the island of Madeira functioned as a main port for the transfer of goods and slaves, the festivities were strongly influenced by other cultures. Thus, the carnival has become a joyful, colorful celebration full of catchy music.
During the carnivals, the city of Funchal becomes the epicenter of a huge colorful celebration, full of dresses, lights everywhere, big carrozas and dancers. Every year, a large number of floats come to the city to perform a big thematic show, full of dances, feathers and glitter. The whole island comes to see this wonderful spectacle that fills every corner of the city with phenomenal energy.
In addition to the traditional parade, on Shrove Tuesday it is customary to hold the Cortejo Trapalhão, a popular version of the carnivals. Every year, locals gather in the streets of the city to perform a large humorous and satirical event. People build themed floats that ridicule various political personalities of the island and the country. This parade is the true local expression of the carnivals. During the festivities, people usually eat malaçadas (fried doughnuts) and drink wine.
The Madeira Carnival is celebrated approximately from Wednesday, February 10 to Saturday, February 21
The city of Loulé, located in the district of Faro is the city with the largest carnival celebration in southern Portugal. During carnivals, the city of Loulé becomes the main celebration in the entire Algarve area, attracting hundreds of tourists from all over Portugal. Nowadays, the Carnivals of Loulé are considered the most beautiful of the nation.
The carnival of Loulé formally began in 1906. Formerly, the carnival was celebrated in a rude, almost savage way, as it consisted of throwing all kinds of things at other people. From its beginnings, people amused themselves by throwing rotten eggs, water, dirt and flour at passers-by. In addition, the use of masks in the locality caused people to commit crimes and excesses. Later, the carnivals began to civilize and acquire elements such as dances and parades. In the year 1977, the municipality began to be the main organizer of the festivities. Today, the carnival of Loulé is one of the oldest continuous festivals in the country.
The celebration in the city of Loulé is extremely special, as each year it has a new theme with which it adapts the floats and costumes. Every year, the carnivals are filled with people to see the large satirical floats that make fun of the most popular personalities in the country. Likewise, the Loulé Carnival is a celebration influenced by the Brazilian carnivals, so you should expect great samba parades, incredible dances and colorful costumes. The parades feature 700 participants, 17 floats and 6 samba schools that give their best to cheer up the thousands of people who come every year.
The city of Ovar, located in Aveiro in the north of the country, celebrates one of the largest and most popular carnivals in the area. The Ovar Carnivals are a celebration influenced by Brazilian festivals. However, it has unique elements that have transformed it into one of the most authentic festivals in the nation. Around 100,000 people come every year to witness the most impressive carnivals in northern Portugal.
The first records of the Ovar carnival date back to the 19th century. However, not much is explained about the type of celebration that took place. During the early 20th century, carnivals moved to salons and theaters, proliferating activities such as dances and more refined events. During the Second World War, the carnivals were almost completely extinguished, but they re-emerged again in 1945. By 1950, the carnivals were considered a tourist attraction. In addition, during that date they were also known as “Carnaval Sujo“, since, for 60 minutes, the city center was transformed into a battle of huevos and harina. Years later, the carnival began to absorb new elements, transforming into the events we know today.
Despite being a carnival influenced by Brazilian festivities, the event also has interesting elements of its own. Some of the main events are the night walks, events in which the city is toured at night time, being decorated with lights and decorations. In addition, there are also children’s parades, parties, concerts live and exhibitions and tours through the historic areas and museums of the city.
The main event is the great parade. There, dozens of comparsas, samba schools and carrozas take to the streets of the city to perform a great colorful show. In addition, musical shows are performed to liven up the entire celebration. The groups enjoy themed and colorful costumes that animate all the spectators.
Over Carnival lasts 3 weeks. Itwill be held from approximately January 23 to February 16.
The Carnival of Torres Vedras is considered the most Portuguese Carnival in Portugal. The municipality of Torres Vedras, located in theLisbon district is home to the most famous carnival in the whole country. Thousands of people come every year to see for themselves all the cabeçudos, Matrafonas and Zés Pereiras. The carnivals of Torres Vedras have had an audience of up to 500,000 people.
The first records of carnival in Torres Vedras date back to the 19th century, when carnival was mainly held in dance halls and theaters and did not feature street entertainment. It was not until 1912 that the first parades were held in the streets. These initial parades were held in order to raise some money to help the less fortunate of the city. Years later, the carnival began to integrate other events, such as the parade of the matrafonas. However, during World War II, the carnival did not take place and resumed in the year 1948, but much less festive. The carnival returned to its original form in the 1980s with better organization and events.
The carnival of Torres Vedras is composed of several circuits, some of them are held musical performances and music live. In addition, there are also various competitions and contests, some of these aimed exclusively at the Matrafonas, transvestite men. The main event is the parade or corso, in which several Matrafonas, cabeçudos (large-headed dolls), Zés Pereiras (traditional musical groups) and the characteristic themed floats participate. These floats are loaded with satirical and funny messages, all these influenced by national events or important personalities of the country.
The Torres Vedras Carnival will be held from approximately February 12 to 17.
February 12 to 17.