When winter hits, events in Lisbon take a festive turn. If you’re planning a visit, don’t miss these top celebrations
Many people may consider Portugal a summer destination, but with mild weather, few crowds and a host of festive events, winter is a great time to visit Lisbon. From Noite de Ano Novo (New Year’s Eve) celebrations like the São Silvestre run, to cultural traditions like the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, there’s a wide variety of happenings to get involved with at this time of the year. If you’re planning a winter trip, add some of these exciting events in Lisbon to your itinerary.
Get in the festive spirit with a trip to the Natalis Christmas Fair. One of the biggest events in Lisbon, the annual fair offers visitors an excellent opportunity to shop for festive gifts and decorations. As well as displays of Christmas trees, handicrafts, fashion and accessories, housewares and festive foods, the fair hosts a variety of family-friendly rides and entertainment.
The annual celebration of the Immaculate Conception is an important religious day for Christians around the world. In Lisbon, it’s a public holiday and people come together to enjoy a huge feast with family, and many attend mass at one of the city’s Catholic churches. For visitors, it’s a fascinating opportunity to witness locals celebrating their faith and enjoy the excited buzz in the air.
While many people around the world spend New Year’s Eve preparing for parties, people in Lisbon do something a little different…they run. Each year on 31st December, over 10,000 runners partake in a 10km race through the picturesque city centre, which is decorated with festive lights. The race originated in Brazil as a religious celebration for Saint Silvestre and is now an essential part of Lisbon’s festive season.
New Year’s Eve (Noite de Ano Novo, in Portuguese) is one of the biggest events in Lisbon each year, where thousands of people fill the streets to enjoy musical entertainment, colourful firework displays, and a giant party at Praça do Comércio Square. One cultural quirk you may notice while walking around the city is the residents hanging out of their windows banging pots and pans. This tradition welcomes the New Year with a bang, literally.
In Lisbon, the festivities don’t end when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. On 1st January, Centro Cultural de Belém kick-starts 2017 with a popular New Year’s Concert. Performed by the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra and conducted by Sebastian Perlowski, the concert showcases a captivating blend of music, from waltzes to marches. With 12 performances to look forward to, it’s an excellent way for music enthusiasts to start the year.
Córtex Festival is an important annual event for Portuguese cinema. One of Portugal’s premier short film festivals, it attracts filmmakers and enthusiasts from across the country for screenings and national and international contests. The festival takes place at the Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval in Sintra, just outside of Lisbon, and is well worth the journey for movie lovers.