santos-populares-lisbon

Have you planned your trip to Lisbon in June? If not, it is time to get moving, as June is a busy month for the Festas dos Santos Populares Lisbon.

Are you ready to move your body? The Popular Saints feast days of Saint Peter, Saint John, Santo Antonio, and other saints are not to be missed.

Here, you can learn everything you need before planning your trip.

Where Does Santos Populares Take Place in Lisbon

Saint Anthony’s feast day is June 13th, starting the night before the 12th.

The main festivities center around Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Graça neighborhoods, but celebrations can be found throughout the city.

The city comes alive, celebrating in style. A highlight of that night is the Marchas Popularis.

It is a huge carnival parade along the Avenida Da Liberdade. Later that night, you will experience many traditional street parties as everyone dances to the tempo of the Pimba music and eats sardines until sunset.

It builds up to Saint Anthony’s feast day on the 13th, a two-week revelry of Pimba bands and BBQ sellers of Lisbon’s favorite food, grilled sardines.

Along with all the festivities in Lisbon, you will find decorations with tinsel and streamers that look better than those over Christmas.

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Festas dos Santos Populares and Santo Antonio

saint-antonio-de-padua

So, who is Saint Anthony? Saint Anthony, or Santo Antonio, is Lisbon’s patron saint, born in 1195.

He was born where the Igreja da Santo Antonio church stands. People celebrate Festas Santos Populare’s feast day on June 13th, when he died at age 35 in 1231.

Today, it is a public holiday in Lisbon. Still, the actual celebrations start on June 12th, helping everyone recover from the parties the night before.

Not only is Santo Antonio Lisbon’s patron saint, but he is also the patron saint of lovers.

So, if you visit the Santos Populares festivities, you will feel the flowing or young love and romance. The conclusion of the festivities is the Casamentos de Santo Antonio, the Weddings of Saint Anthony.

It is a mass wedding held at the Se Cathedral of 16 couples on the 12th.

Worthy Note: The Santos Populares Lisbon festivities are celebrated throughout Portugal, covering the feast days of Saint Peter, Saint John, and Saint Anthony in Porto.

The celebration, which takes place on the night of June 23rd, is also known as the Festa de São João do Porto. Both are popular festivals and part of Portuguese traditions.

Festas dos Santos Populares Lisbon Timeline

  • Streamers and tinsel decorate Lisbon from mid-May to the end of June.
  • From the first weekend in June until the 12th, there are street parties at night with lively music presented by Pimba bands.
  • The Casamentos de Santo Antonio wedding is on June 12th at the Se Cathedral and Lisbon Town Hall.
  • The carnival parade (Marchas Popularis) will be held along Avenida da Liberdade from 8 pm to 11 pm on June 12th.
  • From 10 pm to 5 am on the 12th, you can attend street parties in all the Lisbon districts, from Bairro Alto to Alfama, and more on the narrow streets.
  • It is Saint Anthony’s feast day on June 13th, and from that date to June 30th, traditional music is played by the Pimba bands on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • The Saint John feast day takes place on June 24th without any special events in Lisbon, as you can join the Festa de São João do Porto party on June 23rd starting the night.
  • June 29th is Saint Peter’s feast day without special events, as you can join the Noite de São Pedro in Póvoa de Varzim the night of the 28th.

Some Insight: The Santos Populares Lisbon festival suits both young and old. The fantastic thing is that these popular festivities have different activities for all to enjoy, from music to sardines.

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The Carnival Parade Marchas Populares

Marchas-Populares

The highlight of Santos Populares in Lisbon is the carnival procession on the 12th.

It is known as Marchas Populares, Popular Marches, Marchas, or Marchas dos Bairros, meaning Marches of the Neighborhoods.

Each neighborhood in Lisbon performs choreographed dances with selected songs and a theme.

Each neighborhood is competitive as troupes march for months before the event.

Each neighborhood is judged based on the complexity of the dance routine, outfits, and performances.

Judging takes place a week before the Marchas so that groups can relax and enjoy the celebrations on the 12th.

Hot Tip🔥: While staying in any of the neighborhoods, it is customary to cheer them on when they proceed down Avenida da Liberdade.

Compared to the Rio de Janeiro carnival, this one does not have floats, as the focus is on the costumes and dance routes done with Portuguese music.

You will see the bride and groom of Casamentos de Santo Antonio at the head of the parade, who are married earlier in the day.

The Marchas starts at 8 pm and is a long event along the Avenida da Liberdado at two points. Each group performs a 15-minute routine.

It continues for three hours as more neighborhoods join the marches to folk music.

Have You Booked Your Stay

During this peak time, the demand for hotels and accommodation in Lisbon is high. I recommend you book your stay as early as possible to secure a great place and price. So, check out some of the best places to stay in Lisbon, and follow my recommendations.

My Perspective For The Marchas

Marchas is the highlight of the festivities throughout the entire month. So, you can expect it to be hectic and crowded.

You can find VIP stands, but most Lisbon residents will stand six people deep or cling to lamposts or trees.

You will also find the Avenida de Liberade packed at night’s start. Luckily, around 10 pm, it quiets as families return home.

Groups start moving towards Alfama and Bairro Alto for parties. These street night parties are the highlight for anyone visiting Lisbon.

The streets of Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Graca fill up with people until 4 am, and they continue to party until sunrise.

Each district hosts parties, but the best ones are in Lisbon’s downtown, in Baixa, Bairro Alto, Alfama, Cais do Sodre, and Mouraria.

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Festas dos Santos Populares Street Parties

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During the first two weeks of June, the Santos Populares Lisbon festival features many traditional fairs and street parties.

The size and style can range from bands playing at cafe gardens to piazzas packed with tents selling food and drinks. 

The Pimba bands take center stage on most nights to play lots of music and dance to it. 

These songs can range from silly lyrics with innuendos to placing a smile on your face.

You can enjoy BBQ sardine grilling with inexpensive beer and wine from Ginjinha to Sangria. 

All street parties are free and great fun, especially when people start to dance to the music bands.

Throughout Lisbon, approximately 70 events take place—some of the best ones you find hidden in closed-off alleys.

So, chat with the hotel staff to find out where the best events are.

Hot Tip🔥: These street parties take place at night until the 13th, and after that, you find them over weekends.

Traditions of Festas dos Santos Populares Lisbon 

With the Festas dos Santos Populares, you find many traditions and customs as follows:

Grilled Sardines

grilled-sardines-lisbon

Sardines is so popular now that many locals call it the Festival of Sardines. You smell the grilled sardines everywhere.

The origin of sardines takes place during the month of celebrations dating back to the legend of Saint Anthony, who used sardines in his teachings. 

The legend is that a shoal of sardines once stopped swimming to listen to him preaching his sermon by the river.

Furthermore, June is the start of the sardine season, extending from June to October, making it part of this popular celebration.

The Majericos

Majericos-Sweet-Basil

A sweet tradition of the festivity is Majericos, a basil bush given to a partner or loved one with a very romantic poem attached. 

Sweet basil was originally a Valentine’s herb a man gave to propose marriage. The woman kept it until the feast of Santo Antonio, the patron saint of matchmaking and lovers.

The Santos Populares now involve giving pots of basil to a partner, but the tradition of giving them to the sick no longer exists.

At most fairs, vendors sell small basil bushes decorated with paper.

Casamentos de Santo Antonio Weddings

The Casamentos de Santo Antonio mass wedding is held on June 12th, giving people experiencing poverty in Lisbon a grand marriage in the Se Cathedral.

Strangely, the tradition only started in 1958 after someone printed an idea in a newspaper. Today, weddings are free for couples and sponsored by a TV station.

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Wrap-Up: Santos Populares Lisbon Festivities

The Festas dos Santos Populares Lisbon festival is a two-week event filled with street parties, traditional music, and colorful decorations.

The highlight is the Carnival Parade, Marchas Populares, where each neighborhood in Lisbon performs choreographed dances. We recommend booking your stay early if you plan to attend the festival.

The Santos Populares Lisbon festival is a great way to experience Portuguese traditions and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Graça are three popular Lisbon neighborhoods worth visiting to celebrate the Santos Populares.

Alfama is famous for its narrow streets, colorful houses, and fado houses, while Bairro Alto is known for its lively nightlife. Meanwhile, Graça offers stunning city views and is home to the famous Arraial da Vila Berta festivities.

He is also called Saint Anthony of Lisbon because of his city of origin. His reputation for holiness led him to be canonized by the Catholic Church shortly after his death.

In 1934, he was declared Patron Saint of Portugal; in 1946, he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII.

In Portugal, people hold St. Anthony of Padua, St. John of God, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, and Our Lady of Fatima in high regard.

Lisbon, the birthplace of St. Anthony of Padua, celebrates his feast day on June 13th with great enthusiasm, and the same is true throughout the country.

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