Lagos festival celebrates 600-year anniversary of Madeira’s discovery

Exhibitions, historical recreations, guided tours and a 16th century themed fair will be the highlights of the 10th Festival dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Festival) which will be held in Lagos between May 1 and 5.

The event aims to take Lagos 600 years back in time to the discovery of the Madeira archipelago by the Portuguese explorers João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestelo. The expedition included many explorers from the Algarve, and Lagos in particular.

The island of Porto Santo was discovered in 1418 following a sea storm. After many days adrift at sea, they spotted a small island which they called “Porto Seguro, Porto Santo” (“Safe Port, Holy Port”).

A year later, they arrived on Madeira Island. The name is believed to have been given by Zarco, who dubbed the island of ‘Madeira’ (“wood” in English) due to the abundance of this raw material.

Festivities to commemorate these discoveries begin on Wednesday, May 1 with two guided walks – the first in the morning about the ‘Lagos Caravels and the Discoveries Pier’ (As Caravelas de Lagos e o Cais das Descobertas) and another in the afternoon focusing on the ‘House of Guinea and the Lagos Customs’ (A Casa da Guiné e as Alfândegas de Lagos).

A conference is scheduled for the following day (May 2) at the old town hall building at 3pm and will focus on the discovery of the Madeira archipelago. At 6pm, an exhibition about the historic moment will be inaugurated.

The fair will be held between Friday, May 3 and Sunday, May 5 in the town’s historic centre under a different theme each day, although historical recreations and musical performances will be plentiful throughout the festival.

It will begin with the usual parade that will see local students and teachers as well as artists recreating the departure of the town’s explorers.

Entertainment is also planned at Caravela Boa Esperança, Forte Ponte da Bandeira and Centro de Ciência Viva de Lagos.

Intermunicipal education to be discussed
Following the success of a congress dedicated to the sea, which saw the Terras do Infante Association creating a “letter of compromise to value and protect the sea as an invaluable resource”, a new meeting has been called to discuss “intermunicipal education”.

It will be held on Saturday, May 11 at the auditorium of Lagos’ town hall. The association includes the municipalities of Lagos, Aljezur and Vila do Bispo.