When we talk about Carnival, we always think about Rio de Janeiro, samba, and the colourful costumes that parade along the streets while accompanied by the joyful sound of Brazilian music. Rio de Janeiro’s traditional Carnival is known all throughout the world and brings many tourists, around 500 thousand a year, to this light-hearted city. However, in Portugal, it’s also possible to celebrate Carnival with samba on your feet. Which isn’t surprising since these two countries are almost brothers! Get to know some of the country’s most iconic festivities, where it’s possible to participate in parades coloured and soundtracked by Brasil.
The Grand Float Parade of Funchal’s Carnival, in Madeira, is one of the most popular in the world. In this event, all are welcome, from children to adults, from locals to newcomers, and there are numerous events organized by hotels, restaurants, stores and coffee shops. We also couldn’t forget the famous parades organized by local authorities, that attract thousands of tourists and have many people involved in their production and execution. During the four days of folly, there’s also the “Cortejo Trapalhão”. A parade that focuses on social parody with reference to national and international politics.
Considered has Portugal’s “most Brazilian Carnival”, Alcobaça’s Carnival is celebrated for five days full of celebration. The central element of the party is a tent set up in front of Alcobaça Monastery, where thousands of people get together to dance all night long, in a stage full of endless festivities. It’s common to hear music with a Brazilian accent combined with other traditions imported from the other side of the Atlantic.
Distinguished for its exceptional wine, bread, but most importantly by its piglet meat, Mealhada is one of the Portuguese Carnival unavoidable stops. This Carnival, unquestionably Portuguese-Brazilian, is held with the support of several samba schools that transform the village centre during five days of fun, always cheered by Samba’s beat.
For three days the locals play with issues usually taken “to” seriously, like national politics and other current themes. The Carnival parade that goes through Avenida Jóse da Costa Mealha is famous for the participation of floats belonging to Samba schools, for its party-goers, and for the “Flower Battle”. It’s one of Algarve’s main events during the low season, and it has a lot of positive effects on the local and regional economy, due to the high number of visitors it attracts.
During Carnival happiness takes over the city of Ovar. For ten days, thousands of people witness and participate in the several parades and concerts that occur in the “Espaço Folião”, this place also houses a vote to determine the best float. It’s in an area, known as the “Carnival Village” (Aldeia do Carnaval), that has about 10 thousand square meters that the main carnival activities take place. The city of Ovar it’s an essential stop for those who wish to live Portugal’s Carnival with lots of intensity and joy.
The most Portuguese Carnival is in Torres Vedras…
If you want to put samba aside, you can experience a genuinely Portuguese Carnival. In Torres Vedras, around an hour from Lisbon, you’ll find five days of genuine entertainment where samba isn’t part of the picture. Here the tradition is the “Matrafonas”, the term used to describe the men who disguise as women during the festivities. During this time, it’s required to circulate through the city’s historic centre in a costume and participate in as many parties as you can.
Are you ready to put on your party outfit and get to know some of Portugal’s best carnivals? Take advantage of the vibe and make a quick detour to Lisbon. You can go on a tuk tuk tour through the city and count on our driver’s tips to find out where you can have a blast during the Portuguese capital’s festivities. Check out our tours, you’ll see that in a short time you’ll become a Lisbon and Portuguese culture expert.