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

Lisbon Bar Crawl

It is many traditions around the Mediterranean countries that surrounds of the life of Saint Anthony and the many miracles he is said to have preformed, These are a mixed between the older and deeply 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.

Saint Antonio is one of the most famous saints associated with love. This is why one of the main events during the Festival is a mass wedding ceremony held for multiple couples at once at Lisbon’s Sé Cathedral on 12th of June each year, Newlyweds 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 is done the statue is removed from the ground the happy couple will keep the statue close for future luck with the relationship and marriage, 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.

For those more interested in the traditional food side of the festival you don’t have to look far, Street 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 most of the small squares of Lisbon’s oldest quarters playing a variety of music until early morning, and paper garlands has been hang between buildings to create a Carnival-style atmosphere.

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. With their narrow cobbled streets and small squares on every corner, this area offers the perfect conditions for the annual street party

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