Organisers are promising a bigger event, with “more to offer visitors”
Portugal’s Age of Discoveries and the role that Lagos played in it will be the main inspiration for the 11th edition of Festival dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Festival), which is taking place between next Thursday and Sunday (May 4 and 7).
Organisers are promising a bigger event, with “more to offer visitors”, from live shows, historical recreations to conferences and exhibitions.
This will be the first edition since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given organisers time to “prepare a great return” for what they describe as one of the Algarve’s standout events, particularly outside the summer season.
The festival is also one of the main events included in the year-long cultural programme to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Lagos as a city.
The central figure of the event will be Dom Sebastião, the Portuguese King who went missing in the Battle of Alcácer Quibir in 1578.
His visit to Lagos and his decision to grant it city status in 1573, as well as the details surrounding his military expedition to the north of Africa which ultimately led to his defeat, are some of the events that will be explored to help visitors learn more about Sebastianism – the term used to describe the belief that King Sebastian would eventually reappear and return to Portugal in the future. The term is still very much used in Portugal to describe cases of misguided hope.
The event will begin at 2.30pm on Thursday with a historical procession along the riverside Avenida dos Descobrimentos, bringing together local schools and associations.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Feira Quinhentista (16th Century Fair), which will feature a record number of exhibitors such as artists, craftspeople, merchants and “tavern keepers”.
Entertainment is promised for several corners of town, where “thematic hubs” have been set up to take visitors on a journey back in time, such as a weapon exhibition (Ponta da Bandeira fort), a Moorish camp (Jardim da Constituição) and a torture instrument display (Armazém Regimental).
The event will also offer insight into what life was like aboard a caravel at the recently inaugurated Caravela Boa Esperança museum, while a series of family games can be enjoyed at Jardim da Constituição. The old Lagos hospital building will also be turned into a ‘Vila Notável’ (Notable Village) while lessons on how to build a caravel will be given outside Ponta da Bandeira fort.
A wide range of live performances are also planned, from concerts to living statues, theatre, marionettes, re-enactments, cavalry tournaments, fire shows and much more.
While most of the festival’s activities are free, there will also be two new paid experiences to enjoy: ‘Navegador por um Dia’ (Sailor for a Day), a trip aboard the Nau Santa Bernarda (May 4-7), costing €10, and ‘Ceia Quinhentista’ (16th Century Banquet), to be held on Sunday at Messe Militar de Lagos, costing €30.
The local council has announced that traffic between the D. João II roundabout and Lagos Volunteer Firefighters will be cut off from 1.30pm to 4.30pm and at Praça do Infante from 3pm to midnight on the festival’s four days due to the event.
The full programme and further information can be found on the festival’s website.