Portugal’s biggest nativity scene to be unveiled in VRSA

Portugal’s biggest nativity scene to be unveiled in VRSA

Vila Real de Santo António is preparing to present its famous nativity scene – described as the largest in Portugal – on Thursday, December 1 at 10am.

The nativity scene is created every year by a team of council workers which includes Augusto Rosa, Teresa Marques, Joaquim Soares and António Bartolomeu, and requires over 40 days and 2,500 hours of hard work to bring it to life.

This year, the nativity scene will feature a record 5,700 figures, up from last year’s 5,600, which decorate a huge 240sqm display created with more than 20 tonnes of sand, four tonnes of rock dust and 3,000 kilos of cork.

The nativity scene occupies the whole area of the cultural centre’s exhibition space and recreates a number of Christian and pagan traditions, whilst also paying homage to local landmarks, such as the Marquês de Pombal square, the old huts near Monte Gordo beach, the salt pans and the traditional Algarvian norias.

Portugal’s biggest nativity scene to be unveiled in VRSA

The nativity scene is also brought to life with over 100 mechanised figures as well as lakes and lighting.

Says VRSA council, the nativity scene is eco-friendly as most materials are natural or have been reused, such as cork and moss. It also uses LED lighting systems, while all water used will be reused.

“The Giant Nativity Scene is already part of the Algarve’s Christmas traditions and is an anchor event for the municipality, bringing together visitors of all ages and from all areas of the country,” says the council.

Portugal’s biggest nativity scene to be unveiled in VRSA

The local authority adds that it is also visited by “thousands of foreign visitors, especially Spanish, due to its popularity in the neighbouring Andalusia region”.

The nativity scene can be visited between December 1 and January 8 and is open every day from 10am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 7pm, apart from a few exceptions: it closes at 6pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and opens at 3pm on New Year’s Day.

Admission is €1 for children aged over 10 and adults and €0.50 for children aged three to 10.

By Michael Bruxo