Despite a fuel crisis and weather woes this weekend, life goes on in the Algarve and Portugal’s most popular tourist destination has ensured locals and visitors alike have plenty to do during the festive season. The region has prepared a long-list of events, from musical performances and religious festivities to gastronomic fairs and cultural shows.
Whether you want to taste the local versions of Portugal’s delicious ‘Folar’ Easter cake, take part in a century-old religious celebration or check out the Algarve cultural scene, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose what to do over the coming days.
One of the biggest and most traditional events taking place this weekend is the Festa das Tochas Floridas (Flower Torch Festival) in São Brás de Alportel. Held on Easter Sunday, the event is a vibrant celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and sees streets adorned with ‘carpets’ of flowers, with the local community getting involved in the preparations.
Portimão is also planning two processions on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the first beginning at 9pm at the Igreja Matriz church and the other at 10am. But no matter where you are in the Algarve, chances are the local church will be holding a procession or Eucharist to celebrate the festive season.
The region’s Easter calendar is famously known for its focus on gastronomic events and those with a sweet tooth will be spoilt for choice. Quarteira, Altura, São Marcos da Serra and Odeceixe will all be hosting ‘Folar Fairs’.
The delicious Easter cake is made all over Portugal, but in the Algarve it has its own unique twists, and upcoming fairs give visitors an opportunity to taste not only the many ‘Folar’ recipes but also other typical sweets such as the traditional Dom Rodrigo, egg strings with cinnamon.
In Quarteira, a 100-metre long Folar, weighing an impressive 330 kilos, will be baked and served to the public at around 3pm on Saturday, April 20 at Rua Vasco da Gama.
Another “giant Folar” is also expected to steal the show in Altura, which will host an Easter fair (Feirinha da Páscoa de Altura) this Friday and Saturday.
Heading west, Odeceixe will hold its hugely popular Feira do Folar between Friday and Sunday, which will shine the spotlight again on the Folar but also on traditional sweets made with Aljezur’s world-famous sweet potato.
The Algarve’s ‘land of delicious bread’, São Marcos da Serra, will also host a Folar fair between Friday and Sunday.
And for those looking to discover more of the region’s cuisine and not just its sweets, São Brás de Alportel is hosting its ‘Sabores do Caldeirão’ initiative which sees local restaurants preparing typical dishes especially for the event until April 22.
If this is not enough to keep visitors busy, there will also be many other events taking place across the region.
French artist Tatiana Bongonga will be walking a tightrope 30 metres above the ground in Aljezur as part of a show called ‘Traversée’. The dizzying spectacle will take place on Sunday, April 21.
Carvoeiro will host a walk entitled ‘The Treasures of Lagoa’ on Saturday, April 20. It is described as a “dramatisation in which local maritime culture is explored through tales and legends about the sea and its dangers, whose protagonists are fishermen, buccaneers and pirates, along with a range of fantastic imaginary creatures”. People should meet at the amphitheater behind the church at 6.30pm.
Other highlights will be an Easter fair in Carvoeiro’s main square, from Friday to Sunday, and an Easter concert on Sunday at the Porches main church featuring Carla Pontes (soprano), Francisco Brazão (bass-baritone) and Jeferson de Mello (piano).
Being held in association with Lagoa Municipality, the concert will feature Carla Pontes (soprano), Francisco Brazão (bass-baritone) and Jeferson de Mello (piano) interpret a repertoire which mainly includes pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach, Berlioz and Joseph Haydn.
More information about these and other events can be found in our Community and Gourmet sections or online via the Algarve tourism board (www.visitalgarve.pt).
With so much to do and forecasts that hotels will be packed with people, Algarve tourism boss João Fernandes admits he has “high expectations” for this Easter.
But recent news of a fuel crisis and even the gloomy weather are expected to put a damper on these “expectations”.
By MICHAEL BRUXO