Loulé has announced a “fun-filled Christmas programme bound by strict rules” due to Portugal’s rising Covid-19 case numbers.
The highlight promises to be ‘Aldeia dos Sonhos’, a Christmas Village which features everything from a synthetic ice rink to a merry-go-round, a Christmas train, Santa’s Grotto, an elves’ village and several stands selling Christmas sweets and treats.
The Christmas Village spans four areas near Cerca do Convento and Alcaidaria do Castelo as well as the Dom Afonso III and São Francisco squares.
‘Aldeia dos Sonhos’ is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 2.30pm between Tuesday and Friday and on Sunday, and at 10.30am on Saturday. The festivities end at 7pm.
Admission is free, but visitors aged 12+ must present a digital certificate as proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, or a negative Covid-19 antigen test. Masks are mandatory for visitors aged 12+, while food purchased inside the venues must be consumed outside of them.
Loulé Council adds that the contingency plan has received the ‘green light’ from the local health delegate and will be updated if necessary.
The Christmas festivities also extend to Quarteira (Praça do Mar and Centro Autárquico) and Almancil (Jardim das Comunidades), which is hosting their own Christmas fairs with the same rules in place.
Christmas lights have also been installed across the borough of Loulé. Praça da República, in front of the town hall, is one of the main attractions with its five-piece display depicting Santa and his reindeer.
New Year’s Eve festivities have, however, been cancelled, the council confirmed, including the concert with Portuguese band Expensive Soul. The only exception will be the fireworks show taking place along Quarteira’s beachfront.
The town’s giant ‘Bolo-rei’ (Christmas cake) initiative planned for January 6 has also been cancelled.
Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo says the council will continue to monitor the state of the pandemic throughout the coming weeks.
“We know vaccines have been fundamental in making the (epidemiological) situation today very different to what it was a year ago. So, we have decided to host this festive programme, which will still allow locals and visitors to enjoy the spirit of this season while supporting businesses,” he said.