Portugal registers lowest number of bullfights ever in 2023

Historically low number of bullfights in Portugal

Portugal’s bullrings hosted 166 bullfights in 2023 – the lowest number ever registered in a single year apart from the pandemic years. The data has been revealed by Portugal’s Board of Cultural Activities (IGAC).

The number of bullfights in Portugal has been steadily decreasing since 2014, when the country hosted 221 bullfighting events.

In 2022, the number had already dropped to 175. For 2023, a total of 182 bullfights had been approved, but unfavourable weather conditions led to some cancellations which brought the number down to 166.

Only during the Covid-19 pandemic years did bullfights experience an even steeper decline, with only 42 held in 2020 and 112 in 2021. However, these low numbers were a result of precautionary measures imposed by the National Health Board (DGS).

Returning to the 2023 data on bullfights, Vila Franca de Xira was the municipality that hosted the most bullfighting events (12 out of the 166), followed by Moura (8), Alcochete and Moita (7) and Évora (6).

The Alentejo remains the region with the strongest bullfighting tradition, with 55% of bullfights held in 2023 in Portugal taking place in the region.

Anti-bullfighting group ‘Basta de Touradas’ (Enough of Bullfighting) has celebrated the “excellent news,” stating that “bullfighting is on its way to ending.”

“No matter how hard they try, they cannot hide this reality. Even with €19 million of public funds injected into this activity, the bullfighting sector cannot reverse the declining trend that began in 2009,” the group says.

It added in a statement to the press that authorities should also be more vigilant to “prevent illegal bullfighting shows that continue to be very common in some bullfighting arenas.”

By Michael Bruxo

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