A guide to Lisbon’s best popular festivities
We favor walking tours with strategic stops to enjoy the local culture, to tell and listen to the stories and customs of each neighborhood, to savor local tidbits and immerse ourselves in the authenticity of every corner in Lisbon. With the arrival of June, we have even more reasons to get outside and go for a stroll, this time in a joyful atmosphere with the typical Santo António festivities.
Let’s go outside!
There may be more than a hundred festivities organized and spread throughout the city in honor of our dear Santo António (a matchmaker, and so much more!) and choosing which one to attend depends on so many factors: location, type of party, food, music, duration or so many other attractions that the different programs of the popular festivities propose. There are suggestions for everyone, during several days of the week, throughout the entire month of June: although Santo António Day is June 13th, the main celebrations begin in the evening of the twelfth, always lasting until dawn. It’s the perfect month for partying all over Lisbon, and we wait the entire year to escape our more or less quiet lives once again and celebrate as if there were no tomorrow.
In the month when summer declares itself and great weather invites us to get outside, these outdoor Lisbon festivities are jam-packed, with happy crowds gathering at the different neighborhoods, all of which are decorated to perfection with colorful wreaths and balloons, all of them an invitation to stop and enjoy the grilled sardines, the roasted chorizo, the bifana (slow-cooked pork sandwich) with a beer, the sangria and the snails, always to the sound of live bands and popular music, a contagious energy that keeps us partying until dawn.
Basil, my love
Among the aromas of these wonderful tidbits is basil. The green mascot of Lisbon’s popular festivities, basil is known as the “sweetheart plant”. In the olden days, during this time of year, it was customary for men to gift little basil plants to their girlfriends, which at the time symbolized a marriage proposal. It’s not by chance that Santo António is the matchmaker saint and that today, the basil plants always bear a small paper flag with love verses printed on them.
The Popular Saints route
Between the traditional and alternative festivities, there’s always room for unexpected attractions and surprises, with social initiatives, vegetarian food, theater, 90’s atmosphere, lots of animation and Portuguese soul. From the Estrela neighborhood to Avenidas Novas, from Mouraria to Olivais – among many others – you can see why we need a month of celebration, to have time to savor all that the Popular Saints have to offer:
Renovar a Mouraria – Focused on multiculturalism and sustainability, which characterizes the neighborhood, this festivity has good vibes that welcome everyone from all over the world.
Sardinhas Achadas – With Campo Mártires da Pátria as its stage, an original festivity that brings concerts, performances, short films and documentaries to the typical celebrations.
Arraial de Alfama – More typical and familiar is impossible… a festivity that can’t be missed. Get ready for human warmth!
Os Combatentes – At Lapa, there are always reasons to go, celebrate and stay a little while longer.
Arraial de Marvila – Animation for the entire family, with great emphasis on good music, accompanied by a whole lot of dancing.
Santos à Campolide – Presents a winning trio composed of light Portuguese music, traditional-style tidbits and a constant good mood.
Arraial de Santa Catarina – A celebration that’s small in size, but big in emotion.
Arraial de Alcântara – This festivity has already won the award for “Melhor Arraial de Lisboa” (“Best Festivity in Lisbon”), attributed by City Hall several times, which means that it’s definitely worth a visit.
Anjos Populares – There’s no popular music or grilled sardines around here, but there are sounds and tastes of the world, at this truly alternative festivity.
Arraial do Lumiar – A very young and fun environment, where you’ll find everything you need!
Vila Berta – Designed for kids and adults, every day there are surprises at this festivity that just keeps getting more and more popular.
Arraial de Alvalade – Several days of celebration, each one with its own unique festivity.
Grande Arraial de Benfica – It occurs towards the end of the month, but always in time for great shows and nights well spent.
Arraial da Bica – A bridge of fun between the traditional neighborhood party and the super cool Bairro Alto vibe right next door.
Arraial Veggie Vibes – The first festivity to serve only vegan and vegetarian food has settled in at Mercado de Santa Clara and will be giving us so many reasons to talk about it… and to eat!
Santos Noventeiros – The festivity that brings together the best of the ’90s at Campo Pequeno.
Arraial Pride – Good music, good flavors, various workshops, and performances… await us at the biggest LGBT festival in the country.
Have you planned your itinerary for the best popular festivities in Lisbon?