Best time to go to Lisbon

Festas de Lisboa (Festas dos Santos Populares) 2023

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

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

Festas de Lisboa, where "Festas" stands for "festivals" and "Lisboa" is the Portuguese name for Lisbon, is a range of celebrations in June, a month full of saints’ days such as Saint Anthony’s Day on June 13, Saint John’s Day on June 23, and Saint Peter’s Day on June 28. Back in time, they used to be called "Festas dos Santos Populares," meaning "Feasts of the Popular Saints," but now as it's more about street parties than religion, the name has changed to a more neutral version of Festas de Lisboa. On the eve and on those days of the saints, the streets of Lisbon are filled with partying processions and outdoor events. Some people even call these events "sardine festival" because you can find grilled sardines everywhere in the streets of Lisbon.

St. Antony’s Day, or Festa de Santo Antonio, is a religious holiday dedicated to the glory of Lisbon’s patron saint. But this day has gained an additional meaning: the people of Lisbon meet to celebrate their attachment to the city and to keep in touch with their friends and neighbors.

To show their dedication to the idea of the holiday, the inhabitants of Castelo, Alfama, Ajuda, Graca, Mouraria and Bairro Alto districts come up with special costumes they wear and a song they sing on June, 12th. On this day, a collective wedding ceremony occurs in the cathedral and a parade walks down Avenida da Liberdade. Each district takes part in the parade and competes for the “best match.”

On the next day, June, 13th, one more procession walks the streets—this part of the celebration is more spiritual and dedicated to religious aspects of the holiday.

Aside from this highlight, plenty of other events happen all over the city—concerts, performances, exhibitions, movie screenings, and grill parties occupy the streets of Lisbon. Even though the holiday initially had religious roots, today, it gives more insights into the everyday life of Lisbon.

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin