Festa de Santo António – The festival dedicated to sardines and love.

Lisbon Bar Crawl

There are many traditions around the Mediterranean countries of Saint Anthony and the miracles he is said to have preformed, in Lisbon it is Festa de Santo António.

These are a mixed between the older and religious Portuguese population that still hold the old tradition at life.
And the younger Portuguese that are more than happy to celebrate his feast day with a week long party of drinking, dancing and eating sardines.

The Love story

Saint Antonio is one of the most famous saints associated with love.
This is why one of the Activities In Lisbon is a mass wedding ceremony held for multiple couples at once at Lisbon’s SéCathedral.
The Newlyweds then march in a parade along the Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon.

And for the unmarried women seeking a good partner the trick is to purchase a small statue of the Saint and then bury this statue in the ground and only dig him back out once the saint has worked his miracles and a suitable partner is found.
After the matchmaking the statue is dug up and the happy couple will keep the statue close for luck.
If you’re anywhere near the Church of Saint Anthony, you will smell and scent of fresh basil coming from the tables filled with potted plants awaiting to be brought by both singles and couples to give to the one they love, basil is considered a symbol of luck, and in this case it is hoped to bring romantic luck.

The Food at Festa de Santo António

For those more interested in the food side of the festival, food stalls appear on every corner.
Selling traditionally grilled sardines.
It is said that the Portuguese consume a whooping 13 sardines per second during the celebrations.

So what is all the fuss about Sardines about?
Sardines are associated with the poor, and since St. Anthony took a vow of poverty, sardines are considered an important symbol of this tradition.
You will definitely see and smell the charcoaled sardines all over the city.

If music and dancing is more you calling than sardines and old love traditions, no problems!
Stages have been set in the small squares of Lisbon’s oldest quarters playing a variety of music until early morning.
Paper garlands has been hung between buildings to create a Carnival-style atmosphere.

Parade At Festa de Santo António

From 9pm, Avenida da Liberdade fills with dancers and music.
The parade is a competition between Lisbon’s traditional neighbourhoods that during a whole year have prepared their unique choreographies and outfits.
At the same time, partygoers will be arriving at Lisbon’s historic neighbourhoods, ready to dance and eat grilled sardines and caldo verde (Portuguese cabbage soup), paired with wine, sangria and beer.

The oldest areas of the city, Alfama and Castelo are the most popular neighbourhoods for this yearly Lisbon’s festivities.

Keep in mind that the Feast of St Anthony will be a bit of a chaotic experience.
The narrow streets and squares get overcrowded with both locals and tourists ready to party until the sun rises.
Walking, let alone dancing, can become difficult.
Still, it’s a fun night filled with music and the atmosphere is on top all over the city.

It’s the best times to be in Lisbon if you want to experience one of Lisbon’s most important cultural traditions.

Lisbon is ready for its most important annual festivity, are you?

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