The Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is a beautiful city with highlights including its natural harbour at the mouth of the Rio Tejo and the ancient barrio (suburb) of Alfama. However, it also knows how to throw a good party, and there are events going on throughout the year that are worth basing travel plans around. These include the Half Marathon of Portugal, in which the runners set off from Europe’s longest bridge, and Indie Lisboa, the International Independent Film Festival. They also include the three big saints days in June, which are lumped together under the title of Festas dos Santos Populares and include the big parade of the Festa de Santo António.
Portugal Events: Lisbon Festivals – Festas dos Santos Populares (Festivals of the Popular Saints)
During the month of June, Lisbon is a party city. The dates of three major saints’ days combine in quick succession (conveniently around the old summer solstice) to turn the Portuguese capital into one big celebration.
First up is the major one, the Festa de Santo António on June 12th and 13th which features a big parade down Avenida da Liberdade and streamers absolutely everywhere. If you have to pick one district to head to, then Alfama is probably the best option, as things go on way beyond the witching hour there, and the sense of enthusiasm is palpable.
The festival of St Anthony (to Anglicise the title) is followed up with the Festa de São João (Festival of St John) on June 23rd and 24th and the Festa de São Pedro (Festival of St Peter) on June 28th and 29th.
Portugal Events: Lisbon Festivals – the Half Marathon of Portugal
This increasingly popular race is not so much about the distance or the quality of athletes, but the spectacular setting. The Half Marathon of Portugal starts on the Ponte Vasco da Gama (Vasco Da Gama Bridge) over mouth of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River). This construction stretches 17.2km and is the longest bridge in Europe. The bridge is closed to cars and the race finishes in Parque das Nações, which is beside Pavilhão de Portugal (Pavilion of Portugal). The Half Marathon of Portugal takes place in September.
Portugal: Lisbon Festivals – Indie Lisboa (The International Independent Film Festival)While the likes of Cannes, Sundance and Venice can attract the big guns, Lisbon’s best film festival concentrates more on the quirky, leftfield side of cinema. Indie Lisboa is now one of the major events for independent film makers, and it takes place in April every year.