What to do

Carnival in the North of Portugal: where to go and what to do

Carnival is an excellent time of year to visit Porto and the North of Portugal. In 2016, this holiday will be celebrated on 9th February, a Tuesday (as is customary). Why not enjoy a long weekend, to rest, discover new places or revisit places that left their mark on you.


Do you know where the tradition for celebrating this event comes from? Probably originating in Greece, even Before Christ, it was on this day that meetings of thanksgiving to the gods took place for the fertility of the land and the harvest. It was later adopted by the Catholic Church as a commemoration, before Lent, as a sort of “farewell” to some treats prior to a period of abstinence, fasting and privation.

During the modern era, dancing with face masks, allegorical floats and costumes were incorporated into the celebrations, giving origin to the Carnival which we know today. The Catholic origins are maintained, in the fact that the date established for celebrating Carnival depends on the date of Easter, more precisely; it falls 47 days before Easter.

Carnival in Northern Portugal

The expression “Life is two days and Carnival is three” represents the way that the festivities of this holiday are regarded in Portugal. In all corners of the country, the cold gives way to partying!

For a more traditional Carnival, head to Lazarim (Lamego), Vinhais and Podence (Macedo de Cavaleiros). In the last of these, the caretos (masked figures) descend on the streets, representing mysterious and diabolical imagery. They move around in groups, whistling and making noise, with their frenetic rattles and bells, running after single young ladies. A fascinating and fantastic celebration, full of seduction and mystery.

When participating in this celebration, you should also experience the gastronomy of Macedo de Cavaleiros. You will be delighted by the sausages with greens, the wild boar stuffed with chestnut and mushroom, partridge rice and chestnut pudding.

In Porto, entertainment in the streets is guaranteed. During the weekend before Carnival Tuesday, the locals take to the street with the chosen costumes for the year. In the bars and nightclubs there are parties, some thematic and some not, but in which fun is guaranteed.

Make the most of the Carnival period to come and visit us! Find out where you can stay and if you would like further information or tips to prepare for your trip do not hesitate to contact us!


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