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Carnival craze

CARNIVAL CELEBRATIONS all over Portugal have been the focus this week of Portuguese and expatriates alike, with thousands taking to the streets to enjoy a multitude of colourful parades.

Mealhada Carnival (central Portugal) lived up to its reputation once again for being one of the biggest and best carnivals in the country, and 30,000 people attended the first day of the Loulé carnival centenary celebrations in Avenida José da Costa Mealha last Sunday.

Satire was once more the order of the day for the Loulé parade, with the artists who spend many months constructing the amazing floats surpassing themselves again this year. Among the highlights was a float featuring a pig called “Política” (Politics), who was feeding her three piglets named “Educação”, “Saúde” and “Finanças” (Education, Health and Finance). Another float attracting much attention clearly aimed to take a swipe at the state of Portugal’s national health service. It depicted Prime Minister José Sócrates dressed as a doctor, caring for a skeleton lying on a bed. Another rather entertaining float featured two motorbikes being ridden by Manuel Alegre and Mário Soares, the bitter Socialist rivals in the recent presidential elections.  

Vila Real de Santo António’s carnival received extra attention in the media this year thanks to the involvement of socialite and colourful TV personality, José Castelo Branco, who certainly did not disappoint in the make-up and costume stakes.

Meanwhile, in Faro, last Friday’s traditional annual children’s parade was better than ever, with scores of youngsters from the borough’s primary schools and nurseries taking part in what proved to be a very happy event featuring some really spectacular costumes and a lot of smiling faces. Turn to page 2 for more delightful pictures of Faro’s carnival children’s parade.

There were also several carnival celebrations in Lisbon although, traditionally, Lisbon only really comes into its own for the feast of the popular saints that takes place every year in June.