The Carnaval in Portugal is an annual event that keeps everyone talking. The carnival is fun, you have music and plenty of food. It is a time when you really can get to know the locals. You can take in the culture and have a blast. The carnival is a great place to stop if you are visiting the area or makes a nice destination all on its own.

Pedro Dias Carnaval in Portugal
Photo: Pedro Dias

Carnival is usually not religious in nature and therefore it continues well past Ash Wednesday when religious affiliated carnivals end. In fact, the carnival in Portugal usually last almost three weeks. It is a non-stop party where the focus is on fun and celebration.

Carnival is all about music, dancing and, of course, the costumes. The elaborate costumes of carnival are something to behold. Many people spend months preparing their costumes for the celebration. From feathers to metal to sequins, you will see it all. The native people take carnival very seriously. They will be meticulous in preparing their costumes and they are focused on ensuring every detail is perfected. Carnival may be all about fun, but the preparation is hard work.

Gustavo Veríssimo Carnaval in Portugal
Photo: Gustavo Veríssimo

Just an hour north of Lisbon in Torres Vedras, you’ll find what is known to be the most traditional Carnival celebration in Portugal. Here they’ve kept the original practices that were set in place in the thirteen century despite a brief break from 1937 (due to World War II) until 1948 when it was restored. This city is known for its matrafonas (men masqueraded as women) and cabeçudos (giant heads) as well as its parades that include floats and Zés Pereiras drumming groups. The festivities last five days and include an annual theme. In 2015 the theme was “Love” – celebrating Valentine’s Day at the same time, due to the proximity of the date. In 2016 the theme will be Figuras & Figurões, (“personalities”) and we bet that it’s going to be super fun!

Rosino Carnaval in Portugal
Photo: Rosino

Even if you have attended the carnival celebration elsewhere, you simply must experience the Portugal Carnival. Every celebration is unique. Each with its own cultural influences. In Portugal you will experience the cities and the people in a way that you cannot do any other time of the year. It is an experience like no other. If you want to have fun and to let loose on vacation then book a trip to Portugal for the carnival.