Music, dancing, saints and sardines! June is the month of Lisbon’s yearly festival, when the city is more alive than ever!
The city’s annual popular festivities are an integral part of the its cultural identity. The Lisbon Festival (or “Popular Saints”, as it is also locally known) originated from traditional Christian celebrations dedicated to Saint Anthony, regarded by Catholics as the city’s patron. Some of the traditions are still maintained, including processions, masses and collective wedding ceremonies.
Other traditions developed over the years, such as the Popular Marches: a Carnival-like parade in which each of the city’s neighbourhoods competes with their group of singers, dancers, extras and other artists performing choreographic shows. The evening before Saint Anthony’s Day (13th of June) is the height of the festivities: the Marches take place in the city centre, and there are fireworks and street parties.
While all of this goes on, there are events all over Lisbon, particularly in the Graça, Mouraria, Bica and Alfama quarters, where crowds have fun in street parties (arraiais), dances, music and lots of beer and sardines! The fun doesn’t stop with Saint Anthony’s Day: during the entire month of June the city comes alive with daily street parties, street concerts and performances, and several cultural events, while the bars and clubs are constantly crowded. With the Lisbon Festival, the entire city is out on the street — this is the perfect time to meet the people of Lisbon and have a taste of life in the white city by the river!
On the eve of Saint Anthony’s Day (the 12th of June), the Marches take place and throngs of people swarm to the festivities on the streets. For this reason, there are severe limitations on car traffic during this evening. If you want to experience Saint Anthony’s Eve, it is best to travel by bus or subway.
To learn about the programme of events throughout the month of June, check the Lisbon Festival’s official website.