With the Festas de Lisboa keeping the city pleasantly busy during all the month, and the celebrations for the Festa de Santo Antonio between the 12th and the 13th, June is probably the best time of the year to be in Lisbon. Lucky me, this year I spent almost all June in Portugal, not too far from its capital city, and I got to savour Lisbon’s cheerful atmosphere and take part in some of the festas.
Come June, arraiais (street restaurants and food stalls) sprout up all over in downtown Lisbon, especially in the traditional bairros Alfama and Mouraria, and the areas surrounding the Castelo de Sao Jorge, filling the air with smoke and smell of sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines). One of the highlights of the Festas is the marchas populares (popular parade or parade of the people) which, as part of the mundane celebrations for Santo Antonio, Lisbon’s patron saint, sees groups from different bairros of the city parading along the Avenida da Liberdade in costumes. This year some guest groups from Macau (an ex-colony) and the EUA also took part in the marchas adding a multicultural touch to the show.
The marchas take place on the evening of the 12th of June and once the parade is over big crowds start making their way uphill to the arraiais in the old town for food, drinks and music. The whole partying thing lasts all night and the lisboetas have got nothing to worry about, since the 13th, the day after, is a bank holiday and most people won’t have to work.
Although I didn’t party that much (i still got to get my quota of Super Bock and sangria, though) I also took a day off work the day after the feast.
I know it’s too early to even think about this now, but hey – if you were ever wondering where to take a city break next June, why not keep Lisbon in mind!