The Portuguese like to work hard and play hard – it’s in their DNA. So there is always SOMETHING going on in Lisbon. But in June the festivities shift up a gear with the start of the ‘arraiais’ season. The ‘arraiais’ are street parties – proper old fashioned street parties with food stalls and music and even, as the night progresses, dancing (don’t worry – not obligatory!) Often referred to as the ‘Festas de Lisboa’ this is actually the season of the ‘Festival of Popular Saints’ – a celebration of the Saint’s days that fall in June.
Hundreds of little food stalls spring up overnight spilling out into the little alleyways adjacent to The Lumiares. The balconies are strung with colourful banners, flags and lanterns which criss-cross overhead creating a makeshift canopy that stays in place for the rest of the summer. The stalls serve up a feast of sardines and bifanas (tasty marinated pork rolls), grilled chorizo and caldo verde (simple but surprisingly delicious potato and kale soup). And of course to wash it down there is beer and sangria or mojitos or caipirinhas…whatever takes your fancy! It’s very cool and well worth experiencing first hand.
If you want to know more take a look at our blog ‘anyone for sardines?’ This looks at the Feast of Saint Anthony, also known as the ‘Sardine Festival’, and is the biggest street party of them all. The carnival atmosphere goes on for days and there is even a parade that starts at the Marques de Pombal Square and makes its way down Lisbon’s main street, the Avenida da Liberdade (about fifteen minutes walk from The Lumiares). Wear comfortable shoes though – the streets are packed and it’s much easier to walk everywhere then try and find an uber or tuk tuk.
This year the summer festivities promise to be even bigger and better because Lisbon has been named the 2017 Ibero-America Capital of Culture. Cue a new program of events and activities planned for June and July – everything from open air concerts to exhibitions, theatre, workshops and tours of the city. Highlights include a series of Fado concerts at the Castelo de Sao Jorge (against a backdrop of one of the best views of the city) and a huge open air concert in the beautiful Prace do Comercio on the 1st July featuring Los Van Van as well as the Gypsy Kings.
Get the lowdown from the concierge at reception or for the schedule of events take a look at festasdelisboa.com