Where’s the party? In the Algarve of course! With this festival calendar you’ll know what there’s to do every month of the year. Enjoy! (Want to know what’s on every day of the year? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.)
See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016
January: eat sausages in Querença
Sample the best homemade chouriças at the Querença sausage festival, which is usually held on the last Sunday in January at the church square. It’s a party in honour of St. Louis, the patron saint of animals. Traditionally, rural families asked St. Louis to keep their pigs healthy until it was slaughter time and offered their best pieces of meat to the Saint afterwards.
Other options in January include the Santa New Year charity swim in Armação de Pera, the Medieval Festival in Paderne, the Solrir comedy festival, and joining choirs to sing the Janeiras.
February: celebrate Carnival in Loulé
Put on your fancy dress and get ready to dance the samba. Carnival in Loulé is said to be one of the oldest carnival happenings in Portugal (picture below by Dave Sheldrake). The place to be is Avenida José da Costa Mealha where parades consisting of hundreds papier-mâché figures, pass in the afternoon. Not in the Loulé area? No worries; carnival is celebrated in almost every town in the Algarve.
Other options in February include the feira do chocolate in Loulé, celebrating Valentine’s day with a romantic beach walk, and the festival da música al-Mutamid in various locations (listen to Arabic music and watch oriental dance).
March: surprise your senses in Loulé
Som Riscado (which loosely translates as ‘scratched sound’ or ‘sound strike’) is a festival which aims to create dialogues between new experimental Portuguese music and visual arts. Expect concerts, exhibitions and installations, that all have to do with both music and images. The event is held towards the end of the month, with performances all over Loulé. (Picture below by Alfredo Rocha).
Other options in March include the Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais da Serra de Monchique (sample sausages), the Mediterranean Gardening Association’s Spring garden fair and the Humour Festival in Lagoa.
April: go for a walk in Ameixial
When flowers bloom and nature has moved into spring, it’s time to take a hike. The Ameixial Walking Festival is held towards the end of April in the neighbourhood of Ameixial, close to the border with the Alentejo. Activities range from hiking and thematic guided tours to technical workshops and presentations. Participation is usually free although prior registration is needed.
Other options in April include the Faro Flamenco festival, the Mãe Soberana procession in Loulé, and the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás (admire the flower carpets in the city centre on Easter Sunday).
May: celebrate surf culture in Sagres
In May, pack your wetsuit, put your board in your campervan and drive towards Sagres, where the Surf Culture festival is held towards the end of the month. Activities include concerts, lectures and guest appearances by artists, photographers, directors, activists and other surf legends.
Other options in May include the Algarve Nature Week, the start of the Rota do Petisco, the Portuguese Wine Week, the snail festival in São Brás and the Algarve Chef’s Week, and the Caminhos do Oriente festival towards the end of the month.
June: listen to Mediterranean music at MED
It’s one of the biggest festivals in the Algarve which attracts thousands of visitors: festival MED. Dozens of bands, international musicians and street performances can be found on one of the main stages or in the streets of the historic town of Loulé. From percussion and beat box to Fado, plus other entertainment and food, the MED festival is one giant party. It’s usually held towards the end of the month. (Picture below of Ana Tijoux by Gonzalo Tello)
Other options in June include the Carvoeiro Black & White night, the BailaRia fest on Praia de Faro, the handicrafts and ethnography fair in Alcoutim, the Lagoa Jazz Fest, the Santos Populares festivities, and the International Algarve Fair.
July: share your passion for two-wheelers in Faro
Every July, between 20,000 and 30,000 bikers from all over the world head to the outskirts of Faro for theyearly motorcycle meeting. This event includes live concerts, erotic shows, and an enormous amount of two-wheelers. Want to know what to expect? Go to page 11. The event is usually held in the middle of the month and features a motorcycle parade into the city of Faro.
Also in July: Alameda Beer Festival in Faro, international street theatre & arts festival in Tavira, snail festival in Porches, Mercado de Culturas à Luz das Velas (candlelit market) in Lagoa, July celebrations in Praia da Luz, open air festival of European films in Tavira, Arabian Days in Guia, Hunting, Fishing & Rural fair in Tavira, Feira da Serra in São Brás de Alportel, Festival do Medronho e Feira do Presunto Tradicional in Monchique, and Al-Buhera Festival in Albufeira.
August: celebrate medieval style in Silves
It’s one of the must-visit summer events in the Algarve. At the Feira Medieval de Silves there are horseback tournaments, belly dancers, snake charmers, acrobats, fire shows and loads of food and handicrafts. Feel like you’ve gone back in time as history comes alive in the town centre of Silves, the capital of the Algarve during the Arab occupation. Dates for 2016: August 12 to 21.
Other options: Pirate Week in Olhão (August 2-5), Festival da Sardinha in Portimão (August 3-7), Festa do Frango da Guia (August 4-7), Pirate Week in Armação de Pêra (August 4-10), Sons do Atlântico (in Carvoeiro August 6-7, in Ferragudo August 13-14), Festival do Marisco in Olhão (August 9-14), sardine festival in Olhos de Água (August 11-13), Noite Branca in Paderne (August 13), Festa dos Pescadores in Santa Luzia (August 12-15), E.S.T.A.R. festival in Odeceixe (August 18-20), Etniarte in Monte Gordo (August 18-21), FolkFaro in Faro (August 20-28), Medieval Days in Castro Marim (August 24-28) & Festa do Banho in Lagos (August 27-29).
September: listen to music in Faro’s old town
At the Festival F, the historic centre of Faro is turned into a massive party zone. Expect concerts, art exhibitions, literature, stand-up comedy, movies and many other performances by dozens of artists, most of them from Portugal. The event is usually held in the first weekend of September, in 2016 it’s on September 2 and 3. (Picture below of Fado singer Ana Moura by Henryk Kotowski)
Other options in September include the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle fair in Tavira, the Barnacle Festival in Vila do Bispo, the Flamenco festival in Lagos, the Festa de Alcoutim, and the Festival do Berbigão in Figueira.
October: spot birds in Sagres
A great shearwater, a gannet, or maybe even a black stork. During the Birdwatching Festival in Sagres, dozens of species can be observed during their autumn migration. Also for bird ringing sessions, guided walks and workshops on environmental education: pack your binoculars and head to Portugal’s southwestern corner. The festival is usually on in the beginning of the month, but birds can be seen all throughout October. ( Picture below by Jorge Meneses)
Other options in October include the Feira de São Martinho in Portimão, the Better Living in Portugal fair in the Portimão Arena, the festival Verão Azul in Lagos and the Algarve Classic Festival at the Autodromo de Algarve.
November: buy potatoes in Aljezur
Not just any potatoes, only the sweet ones (pictured below by Llez). At the Festival da Patata-doce in Aljezur, regional farmers show off their agricultural traditions and organic produce. Star player, of course, is the sweet potato; legend goes that the knights of Santiago used sweet potato vitamin supplements before battle which helped them defeat the Moors and retake Aljezur’s castle. The event is usually held in the last weekend of the month.
Other options in November include the autumn Mediterranean Garden Fair, the Levantarte Dance Festival in Lagoa, the COOL TOUR festival for kids in Faro, and the Rotax Max challenge grand finals, the Ralley Casinos do Algarve and the Maxi Endurance 32h (all at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão).
December: get in the Christmas spirit at the Forum Algarve
Oh jingle bells, oh jingle bells. Even though there’s no snow in the Algarve and the average December temperature is more tropical than North Pole-ish, it’s definitely possible to get in the Christmas spirit in the south of Portugal. For example by going ice-skating in the rink at the Forum Algarve shopping centre in Faro, by visiting one of the many X-mas markets in various Algarve towns or by admiring the giant nativity scene in Vila Real de Santo António.
Other options in December include the gastronomic week in São Bartolomeu de Messines, seeing the living statues in Lagoa, and watching the fireworks on the 31st (head to Albufeira, Lagos or Portimão if you’re in for a massive NYE party).
See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016