Summer in Lisbon has officially started and it’s party time! The smell of grill-roasted sardinhas and bifanas are in the air, the ruas are decorated with a rainbow of streamers and Portuguese green and red manjericos and the folk-cheesy Pimba music is blasting from the neighborhoods. For the whole month of June, Lisboners and visitors get to let loose with Festas de Lisboa , which hosts hundreds of activities all throughout the city, including music concerts, art exhibitions and outdoor dance parties. Yes, the Portuguese really do know how to celebrate their holidays!
Every city and town in Portugal has a patron saint and for Lisbon it’s Santo Antonio (Saint Anthony). Tomorrow (June 14th) is the actual feast day but tonight is really when the Lisboners get down and crazy, with the biggest “block party” you’ll ever see! Tonight, the entire downtown of Lisbon, shops, restaurants, streets, alleyways, every corner will be completely packed with people partying the night away! It starts out with the Marchas Populares (Popular Parades) down Avenida de Liberdade then the rest of night is spent roaming the outdoor festivities of the city, drinking beer and red wine and munching on the coveted sardinhas assadas no pão (whole roasted sardines on bread), as well as bifanas (fried pork sandwiches), febras (grilled pork cutlets), caracois and caldo verde.
It’s a fantastic party if you can take the crowds and the craziness as well as the adventure of trying to hail a taxi or dragging yourself back home or to your hotel in the early hours of the morning (we’re talking 6 or 7am). However, if you can’t handle all of that but still want to celebrate, there are plenty of neighborhood parties, called arraiais, all over the city that start in the days before Santo Antonio and continue on through the end of June. The Alfama neighborhood has traditionally one of the best arraiais and in my opinion is much more pleasant to check out on any evening but tonight. Alfama is also the heart of Fado, so you can get your party on with some great Fado music as well.
As for me, I’ve already done the full-out Santo Antonio party in past years and I don’t have the energy for it anymore, so this year I plan to keep it more low-key and check out one of my local arraiais and enjoy all of the delicious food and drink If you want more info about Lisbon’s Santo Antonio party, check out my 2009 Catavino post: Festival of Santo Antonio and Festas de Lisboa: Lisbon’s Biggest Party of the Year
Still craving for some more outrageous party time after Santo Antonio? Then head up north to Porto for São João on the 23rd! Have fun!