Best time to go to Lisbon

Festas de Lisboa (Festas dos Santos Populares) 2024

Every June the streets of Lisbon are decorated, and the smell of grilled sardines fills the air for a few days

Dates: June 1–June 30

Festas de Lisboa (Festas dos Santos Populares)
Festas de Lisboa (Festas dos Santos Populares)
Festas de Lisboa (Festas dos Santos Populares)

"Festas de Lisboa" refers to the festivals held in Lisbon, where "Festas" means "festivals," and "Lisboa" is the Portuguese name for Lisbon. These festivals occur in June, a month filled with saints' days, such as Saint Peter, Saint John, and Saint Anthony, with the latter being the climax of the feast. The celebrations encompass traditional parties, parades, carnivals, and music, creating a vibrant mix of people and cultures that embody Lisbon's lively essence.

Schedule of the Fiestas

Aside from the Saint Anthony Feast, plenty of other events happen all over the city — concerts, performances, exhibitions, movie screenings, and sardines' smell (the star of the festival) occupy the streets of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods — from Castelo to Mouraria, Graça, Alfama, Ajuda, and the Bairro Alto. The first two weeks of June are filled with night street parties with traditional Pimba bands. After the glorious celebrations on the 12th and 13th of June dedicated to Portugal's patron saint, street parties with Pimba music bands continue for the rest of the month on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The 24th of June is Saint John Feast Day, and the 29th of June is dedicated to Saint Peter.

Feast Day of St. Anthony (June 13, 2024)

Santo António, deeply revered and honored in Lisbon as the city's patron saint, sets the tone for the celebrations, reaching their climax on the evening of June 12 with the lively parade of popular marches along Avenida da Liberdade. On the eve and the days of the saints, the streets of Lisbon are filled with partying processions and outdoor events from 10 pm to 5 am. On the afternoon of June 13, a procession pays homage to the beloved saint as it winds through the streets near the Sé cathedral, adding a special religious aspect to the festivities.

Saint Anthony’s Weddings (June 12, 2024)

Since Saint Anthony is believed to foster marriages, a collective wedding ceremony occurs in the cathedral. With a noble aim of assisting financially struggling couples to marry, this event is consistently observed on June 12th, starting at 11:30, the day preceding the holiday, at the Church of Santo António in Lisbon.

Marchas Populares (June 12, 2024)

The Marchas Populares and the carnival parade are central to the Festas dos Santos Populares in Lisbon. On June 12th, the carnival procession, held along Avenida da Liberdade, steals the spotlight at 8 pm. Known as the 'Marchas dos Bairros' or 'Marchas Populares,' this event features choreographed dances by Lisbon's neighborhoods, each with its theme and song. It's a competitive affair, with troupes practicing for months.

The festival's history

The origins of these celebrations can be traced back to the 16th century, when the city's residents started commemorating St. Anthony's Day. The fiests used to be called "Festas dos Santos Populares," meaning "Feasts of the Popular Saints," but now, as they're more about street parties than religion, the name has changed to a more neutral version of Festas de Lisboa. Today, it gives more insights into the everyday life of Lisbon.

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Last updated:
Authors: Sophia Andrus