Santos Populares

Santos Populares


Opening Hours:Throughout the day

Lisbon celebrates the Festas dos Santos Populares (Feast Days of the Popular Saints) by decorating the city. Barely a street escapes as paper lanterns, streamers and coloured lights are hung from balconies and railings. The main saints’ days are for Antonio (12-13 June), John (23-24 June) and Peter (28-29 June).

As a symbol of affection people present each other with little pots of basil and paper carnations on which they write poems to each other. There are parades in each district and everywhere there is music and dancing. In the evening make your way up to the Alfama, where sardines are grilled outside the houses and the narrow streets fill with people in the party mood.

There is a big parade on the night of the 12 June for St Antonio which makes its way along the Avenida da Liberdade. The old quarters of Alfama and Mouraria are particularly busy and celebrations continue until dawn. St John’s Day on 24 June is celebrated more in the northern city of Porto, but Lisbon doesn’t escape the party. On St Peter’s Day there’s a boat procession on the Tagus (the river which runs through Lisbon) near Montijo, which is situated on the opposite side of the river from the capital, dating back to the Middle Ages.

The people of Portugal have a saint for every event and eventuality. Each village has their own patron saint and a day which is set aside each year to honour him or her, always celebrated with gusto. No one works, and the partying, music, dancing and eating can go on for up to a week.