Carnaval Loulé - Jorge Gomes (5)
Loulé

Crazy for Carnaval? Find out where to celebrate in Algarve

‘Carnaval’ (or Carnival in English) is almost upon us.  Famous for its electrifying parties and parades, the festive season which precedes Lent is widely celebrated across Portugal and the Algarve is no exception.

‘Carnaval’ can be celebrated in any number of ways. One of the most common are street parades, in which floats depicting a range of nationally or world-famous figures and all manner of performers and dancers (some braving the cold with their revealing outfits) make their way throughout town centres. There are also masquerades in which revellers dress up, as well as concerts and the traditional dance parties known as ‘bailes’.

Almost every city and town in Portugal hosts its own Carnaval festivities, although some stand out for being particularly large in scope or unique.

Loulé is arguably the biggest Carnaval destination in the Algarve. This year, the town will host parades on February 11, 12 and 13 which will be inspired by the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, from eradicating poverty and promoting gender equality, quality education and climate action, to creating sustainable cities and communities.

Carnaval de Loulé
Loulé

In total, 14 floats populated by over 600 participants will be making their way along Avenida José da Costa Mealha, with satire once again playing a major part in the festivities. On a lighter note, Loulé will be pitched as another possible location for Lisbon’s new airport, while even sensitive topics like the wars in Ukraine and Israel/Palestine will be satirised.

The Loulé Carnaval celebrations also aim to give something back to the community: for every ticket sold (€2), proceeds are divided between the associations that participate in the parade and Social Solidarity Institutions (IPSSs).

Further west, Portimão has also unveiled its plans for Carnaval, which will be celebrated until February 13 with the 50th anniversary of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution inspiring the festivities.

Two parades will take place simultaneously on February 11 in Mexilhoeira Grande/Figueira and in Alvor at 3.30pm, while a third will bring together 16 floats along the riverside in Portimão on February 13, also at 3.30pm.

Carnaval de Portimão 2
Portimão

Portimão will also host a long list of ‘bailes’, taking place at the following venues: Boa Esperança Atlético Clube Portimonense (February 10 and 12 – 9.30pm; February 13 – 3pm – Children’s parade matinee); Clube União Portimonense (February 10 – 8.30pm; February 12 – 9.30pm); Sociedade Vencedora Portimonense (February 10 and 12 – 9.30pm; February 13 – 6pm); Sporting Glória ou Morte Portimonense (February 10, 12, and 13 – 9.30pm); Clube Desportivo e Recreativo da Pedra Mourinha (February 9, 10, 11, and 12 – 9.30pm); Sociedade Recreativa Figueirense (February 11 and 13 – 5.30pm); Clube de Instrução e Recreio Mexilhoeirense (February 11 and 13 – 5.30pm); Associação Cultural e Desportiva da Ladeira do Vau (February 10 and 12 – 9pm).

Last but not least, Portimão will also host the third edition of ‘Dias da Percussão’ (Days of Percussion) from February 9 to 12. The festival, including several live performances in “iconic public spaces of the city”, can be consulted at https://www.dpportimao.pt

There will also be Carnaval festivities to the east and west of Portimão.

In the neighbouring borough of Lagoa, the festive season will be commemorated with parades starring kindergarten and primary school children in each parish, from 10am to midday, on February 9.

To the west in Lagos, the main attraction will be the ‘Carnaval de Odiáxere’ from February 10 to 14. The highlights promise to be the parades on February 11 and 13 at 2pm, although there will be much more to look forward to, such as ‘bailes’, live performances and the traditional ‘Enterro do Entrudo’ – a symbolic way of bidding farewell to the Carnaval season, marking the end of the period of revelry before the beginning of Lent. It usually involves parading a figure representing Carnaval throughout the streets, accompanied by a funeral procession.

Carnaval de Lagos
Lagos

On the opposite end of the Algarve, Vila Real de Santo António will also be celebrating Carnaval with a series of ‘bailes’. In the town of VRSA, they will take place on February 10, 11, 12 and 17 at the local cultural centre, with tickets costing €3.5 or €2.5 for children aged six to 12. In Monte Gordo, the dances (free admission) take place in a tent set up on the seaside avenue on February 10, 11 and 12, at 10pm. The Tuesday Carnival matinee and the Children’s Mask Contest on February 13 are scheduled for 3pm. Finally, in the parish of Vila Nova de Cacela, the festivities are scheduled for February 11, starting at 4pm at Largo Manuel Cabanas.

Another highlight of the Algarve’s Carnaval agenda promises to be Moncarapacho, Olhão, which in 2024 is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its Carnaval celebrations. Starting at 3pm on February 11, 12 and 13, the parades will be free to enjoy.

This article features a selection of the Carnaval festivities taking place in the Algarve which the Resident was aware of at the time of writing. More local celebrations will certainly be taking place, so be sure to keep an eye out for the event nearest to you!

By Michael Bruxo
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