9 Feb 2015

Carnaval de Portugal

Carnival usually takes place in late February, this year it is held between the 11th and 18th of February. It is celebrated all over the country with slight variances in the celebrations from region to region. The most famous celebrations are in: Ovar, Sesimbra, Madeira, Loulé, Torres Vedras, Estarreja, Loures, Podence, Sines and Elvas. Some carnivals incorporate the pagan traditions such as the Careto and others are slightly more modern and incorporate the samba and lavish parades that are more linked with the Rio de Janeiro carnival.

Source: pinterest.com

Lazarim (Lamego)

The carnival in Lazarim celebrates with the pagan tradition of Roman Saturnalias. Main events include burning colourful effigies and dressing up in home-made costumes. The region is known for its wood craftsmanship so the locals wear heavy, handmade wooden masks. The masks are effigies for both men and women but both of the roles are played only by men. The Lazarim carnival cycle includes two periods: the 1st begins of the fifth Sunday before 'fat Sunday'. Masked figures walk through the town and people feast on various meats, mostly pork. The 2nd begins on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and incorporates the tradition of 'Compadres and Comadres' with men and women showing light-hearted  authority over the other. 

This is a carnival tradition unique to Portugal. During the bonfire, a girl reads the compadre's will and a boy reads the comadre's will. A donkey is then symbolically given to both the male and female 'heirs' and then there is the final reckoning when the 'Entrudo' (carnival doll) is burnt. 


This carnival is in the central region of Portugal and dates back to the 14th century where flower battles took place or decorated floats paraded through the streets. At the start of the twentieth century the carnival ended following the death of its promoters. However, it was brought back in the 60's and is now one of the most important carnivals in Portugal.

Source: carnavaleshoy.com


Ovar, located near Porto, has been celebrating its carnival since 1952 and it is one of the main festivities in the region. The carnival is known for its creative designs, people prepare all year creating costumes, masks, decorations and floats. The parade features themed music and costumes, ranging from the traditional to popular culture.

Source: radioeste.pt

Torres Vedras

This carnival is often referred to as the "most Portuguese in Portugal". It is one of the less touristy options across the country and the locals are the stars. The highlight of the carnival is the parade of decorated streetcars which satirize society and politics.  

If you are interested in spending some time in Portugal to get to know the culture and the language, contact us to find out more about our language courses in Portugal.


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