Carnaval in Portugal: 3 days of colour and joy

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Carnaval has a long tradition in Portugal and to this day is still one of our most popular and festive events.

Originally created by the Greeks as a form of gratitude towards the gods for the good harvests of the year, Carnival was also celebrated in many pagan cultures. In the year 590 AD the date also became acknowledged by the Catholic Church, marking the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. 

With customs varying from northern to southern Portugal, some stand out because of their singularity: from the colourful costumes of “caretos” from Trás-os-Montes, to the famous wooden masks of Lamego, many local traditions have endured centuries and the Portuguese are proud to share them with foreigners.

Today, Carnaval is a festivity made up of colourful masks and costumes. It is a time of fun where jokes are allowed, following the popular Portuguese saying “é Carnaval, ninguém leva a mal".

The most important Portuguese carnavals are located in Ovar, Madeira, Estarreja, Loures, Nazaré, Loulé, Sesimbra and Torres Vedras. The festivities usually start on Friday morning, with children parading with their schools. From Friday night to Tuesday, various parties and parades are held, which are enriched with local traditions.

Each parade has a “padrinho” (godfather) and “madrinha” (godmother) who march with the various groups, adding colour and joy to the streets of many towns throughout Portugal, some with a Brazilian flair that reveals the many cultural influences that paint these three days of celebration.  

Although it is not considered an official holiday, schools and public services are usually closed on Carnaval day, which is always celebrated on a Tuesday, 47 days before Easter Sunday.

Join the party and check out some of the festivities that will be held in the Algarve and Silver Coast regions! Carnaval is one of the many festivities that make life in Portugal a vibrant and joyful experience.

Please contact us if you’d like to know more about living in Portugal or would like to see a property for sale in Portugal that will allow you and your loved ones to be closer to all of the fun.


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