MotoGP rider Miguel Oliveira and Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes
MotoGP rider Miguel Oliveira and Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes

Portimão events generate buzz at BTL

The MotoGP Grand Prix of Portugal, the Afro Nation and Rolling Loud summer festivals and a new videogame fair are among the highlights of Portimão’s 2023 programme

Portimão promoted itself as a year-round destination with major events being announced at Lisbon’s BTL tourism fair, which was held between March 1 and 5.

Four events were highlighted at the fair: the MotoGP Grand Prix of Portugal, which will take place at the Algarve International Racetrack (AIA) between March 24 and 26; the Afro Nation (June 28-30) and Rolling Loud (July 5-7) summer music festivals, which will be returning to Praia da Rocha; and MEO XL Games World, a new ‘mega event’ which aims to “reinvent the experience of videogames in Portugal’ and will be held between September 29 and October 1 at Portimão Arena.

Speaking at the fair, Portimão Mayor Isilda Gomes said that the municipality has established itself as a tourism destination for families, offering a wide range of cultural, sports and nature activities.

“This means we know how to welcome people and are prepared to host big events,” said Gomes.

Paulo Pinheiro, CEO, AIA (Racetrack)
Paulo Pinheiro, CEO, AIA (Racetrack)

Portugal’s star MotoGP rider Miguel Oliveira and the CEO of the Algarve International Racetrack Paulo Pinheiro were at the Portimão stand to help promote the upcoming race.

“(The racetrack) is one of the most incredible tracks to ride a motorbike or a car. I had the privilege of winning a MotoGP race there and it is a great honour, as a Portuguese citizen, to be able to enjoy such a great circuit,” said Miguel Oliveira, inviting everyone to the Portuguese Grand Prix later this month.

Paulo Pinheiro also highlighted the importance of hosting the Portuguese Grand Prix and the visibility it brings to the Algarve and Portugal.

“This year we will have the largest race ever at AIA and we expect the national record for spectators at a single event to be beaten, with estimates pointing towards over 250,000 visiting the circuit during that weekend,” Pinheiro said.

Tiago Castelo Branco, the executive director of the Afro Nation and Rolling Loud festivals, was also at the Portimão stand to promote the upcoming summer events and highlight the “enormous impact” they both had in 2022.

He described Afro Nation as the first event of its kind created in Portugal, having already gone international with editions in Miami (USA), San Juan (Argentina) and Accra (Ghana).

The 2022 edition of Afro Nation attracted 40,000 people and more than 100 accredited journalists, having generated an economic impact of €144 million, Castelo Branco highlighted.

Tiago Castelo Branco, promoter of summer festivals Afro Nation and Rolling Loud
Tiago Castelo Branco, promoter of summer festivals Afro Nation and Rolling Loud

Rolling Loud, described as the largest hip-hop festival in the world, is an American festival which was brought over to Europe for the first time last year, having attracted 55,000 people and over 150 journalists to the Algarve and generated around €99 million for the local economy – aside from the “huge media impact” that pop star Rihanna’s visit to Portimão is believed to have had.

“For us as organisers, Portimão is, without a doubt, the best festival destination in Europe, thanks to those who believe in the project, such as Portimão Council, and we hope to remain here, despite receiving other invitations, because we do not forgot those who have welcomed us so well,” said the festival director.

Meanwhile, the new event for videogame lovers – MEO XL Games World – is aimed at everyone who wants to know the latest news and launches from Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox.

Some of the industry’s biggest influencers will be in attendance, explained Pedro Silveira, the general manager of E2Tech which is organising the event. There will also be competitions and retro games such as arcade and pinball machines.

Portimão Council has also confirmed the return of the town’s famous Sardine Festival, which will be held between August 1 and 6 and will bring some of the country’s top musical acts to the Algarve: Carlão (August 1), Áurea (August 2), André Sardet (August 3), Virgul (August 4), Cuca Roseta (August 5) and Tony Carreira (August 6).

By Michael Bruxo
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