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A whirlwind of carnival welcomes in spring

by EMMA BERTENSHAW [email protected]

Following hot on the heels of Valentine’s Day this year, Carnival is a major public festival for Portugal, with events starting today (Friday) until Wednesday, February 22.

Celebrated for generations, this colourful social event marks a change in seasons and shakes up normality in daily life.

The Algarve celebrates every year with a number of parades and masked fancy dress. As well as banishing the winter cold, it is also a unique chance for naughty political satire and eccentricity.

However, this year the government has sent a strict message to Carnival revellers and has told councils not to include February 21 (Carnival Tuesday) in the celebrations.

Prime Minister Passos Coelho says the day is not an official holiday and councils do not have jurisdiction to allow workers leave even though it is a recognised tradition.

Nevertheless, here is a roundup of some of the many events on offer in the region.

Western Algarve

Sagres will hold a street parade with music by Ritmo Jovem on February 19 at 3pm.

Odiáxere will host five days of entertainment with dances and parades from February 17-21. The parades will take place on February 19 and 21 at 3pm.

Lagos will feature a masked ball for seniors at 3pm on February 19 at the Sede da Filarmónica Lacobrigense 1º de Maio.

More details can be found at www.cm-lagos.pt and www.cm-viladobispo.pt

Central Algarve

Of all the celebrations in the country, Loulé’s is perhaps the best known and one of the oldest. This year the city celebrates its 106th anniversary with a big parade on February 18, 19 and 21 (Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday).

The theme of this year’s 15 floats will be ‘Troika Crisis’ a reflection of local feeling for current world events including caricatures of political figures such as Sarkozy and Coelho. All the parades begin at 3pm in the afternoon and cost €2 to watch. As one of the largest events, Loulé Carnaval is expecting around 60,000 visitors.

There is a traditional Carnival gala ball on Saturday, February 18 at 10pm. Guests are invited to dress up following the theme ‘The fabulous world of the circus’. Music will be provided by Arte & Musica Big Band and Banda Vibrações and promises to be a fabulous way to banish winter.

The dance takes place at Palácio do Nera in the Zona Industrial de Loulé. For details call 289 414 604 or see www.cm-loule.pt

On Sunday, February 19, there will be a Carnival Athletics challenge and walk. Visitors are invited to watch or join in. There is a 4km walking tour of Loulé town open to everyone.

Registration for the walk will take place at Desportivo Municipal. Contact 289 400 845 or [email protected] for further details. Registering for the athletics can be made through the Athletic Association of the Algarve on 289 824 946.

Another Carnival party, ‘The Fantasy World Carnival Party’ will be hosted by Palácio do Nera on Monday, February 20.

This time music will have a contemporary feel with a mix of house music performed by DJs. Tickets for the event will be available at the venue.

The final Carnival parade on Tuesday, February 21 will be preceded by a fun-filled traditional “race” of jesters along the Av. José da Costa Mealha taking place at 11am.

Sports theme in Vilamoura

Vilamoura celebrates Carnival with the 38th international sailing tournament between February 18- 20.

Gustavo Lima, Sara Carmo, Francisco Lobato and Rui Silveira will be some of the stars present to show their skill.

Eastern Algarve

Faro holds their own dedication to carnival celebrations with a children’s parade at 10am on Friday, February 17 starting at the Jardim Manuel Bivar and ending at Pontinha square at 12pm with musical entertainment.

There is a street carnival parade on Saturday, February 18, starting from the same location at 11am.

In the spirit of the Olympic year, Faro is also hosting a special cycling carnival on February 19. They are inviting people to come along and join a cycling procession through the city.

Organised by Glocal Faro in collaboration with Megasport, the organisers came up with the scheme to motivate Faro residents into action.

Carnaval a pedalar will begin at 4pm at Jardim Manuel Bivar in Faro with the theme Cycling is green, cycling is fun.

For more information, visit http://glocalfaro.blogspot.com

Olhão puts the attention on a children’s and senior’s carnival day this Friday (February 17) with the focus on goodhearted fun while children will lead in the festive colour of the occasion with a parade at 10am on the Av. da República.

Later that day at 3pm there is a special senior’s event Vida com ritmo (Life with rhythm) in the Pavilhão Municipal de Olhão.

The centenary carnival in nearby Moncarapacho returns to the streets on February 19 and 21 starting at 2.30pm and ending at around 6pm. It is free to watch and enjoy the traditional float procession.

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