Coloured garlands and lanterns hang across the narrow alleys of Lisbon’s historic quarters. The scent of charcoal grills, sardines and sweet basil mixes in the air and the melancholic sound of Fado playing can be heard everywhere. Everybody seems exhilarated and the good mood catches on. Let’s celebrate together with the locals of this wonderful town.
During the month of June each year, the capital of Portugal turns into an exhilarated state of happiness. One religious or cultural event and festival follows the other, most of them open air. There are events for everyone: Street theatres, music concerts, sport events and endless more. The highlight is the “Festa de Santo António” on 12th and 13th of June, which is held to honour the patron saint of Lisbon: “Santo António”. These days, people from all over the country arrive in order to celebrate with the “Lisboetas”. The most authentic ones are in the boroughs of Graça, Alfama, Castelo, Madragoa and Mouraria.
The festivities on the 12th of June begin with the “Casamentos de Santo António”, the weddings of Saint Anthony. Anthony was recognizes inter alia as patron saint for lovers and married couples. With this in mind, Lisbon has traditionally sponsored weddings for a lucky 16 couples, originally giving couples with a poor background financial support. Lovers give each other a „manjericão“, a sort of mini basil with small leaves, in order to express their feelings. Nowadays this tradition is not limited to lovers.
On the stroke of 9 p.m. drums announce the parade on the Avenida da Liberdade. Lisboetas (that is how the citizens of Lisbon are known) of 20 boroughs present their creative customs in a competition of dance and songs. People celebrate long into the night. For a snack, fresh roasted sardines or “caldo verde” (cabbage soup with a slice of sausage) are offered on every street corner. Mostly people drink wine, caipirinha or sangria. In case of need, citizens will kindly provide access to their toilets.
Especially on the weekend around the 12th of June it is very difficult to find an accommodation in Lisbon. Not only tourists, but also Portuguese from various parts of the country arrive to take part of the festivities. We have put together a small selection of nice and authentic accommodations in Lisbon: