Cacela Velha festival explores Algarve’s Moorish past

Event is free to visit

Cacela Velha is preparing to host ‘Noites da Moura Encantada’, a three-day festival which will take place in July and explore the Algarve’s Moorish heritage.

“Take advantage of the opportunity to live a unique experience which will immerse visitors in Arabian culture, with its music, dancing, tales and handicraft,” organisers say in the event’s promotional statement.

The event – whose name translates loosely into ‘Nights of the Enchanted Moorish Woman’ -will take place at the charming beachside village of Cacela Velha, Vila Real de Santo António, between July 14 and 16.

“With Ria Formosa as the backdrop, the event revisits a time when the Moorish population had an important weight in the south of the territory, and whose habits, customs and landscapes are still present today,” organisers add.

Festivities will begin every day at 6pm with the opening of a ‘souk’, an artisans’ market where “unique and traditional products” will be sold.

The programme also features demonstrations of Arabic calligraphy as well as Arabian percussion workshops at Largo da Fortaleza, which will allow visitors to “learn and get involved with the vibrant rhythms of Arabian music.”

There will also be Arabian dance performances, where the “abilities and graciousness of the dancers” will be on full display near the village’s cistern and at the local fortress.

Harpist Helena Madeira will be performing ‘Melodies of Al-Andalus’ every night at the local church, while the ‘Triangle of Al-Gharb’ will be a street theatre performance which will take place outside the church.

Helena Madeira
Helena Madeira
The Triangle of Al-Gharb
The Triangle of Al-Gharb

The entertainment line-up also features Oriental dance and music group El Laff, storyteller Rita Sales, dance and music show Sufi Soul and a tribal dance show with a fire performance which will bring the festival to a close every night at the fortress.

Sufi Soul
Sufi Soul

The event is organised by VRSA Council, IBéRICA – Eventos e Espectáculos and ADRIP, an association dedicated to preserving the heritage of Cacela Velha.

Admission is free, with doors opening at 6pm and closing at midnight.

By Michael Bruxo

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