Holidays in Lisbon are an outdoors affair. The main square — Terreiro do Paço — is hosting an ice rink and a carousel this year that will continue into the New Year. There’s also a large modern-looking lighted sculpture of a Christmas tree and a row of pastry and gift booths.
This year, for the kids, it’s complete with a storytime room that’s scattered with bean bag chairs.
Every street in the center is transformed come Christmas time. They are carefully decorated with over-the-top lights, so just walking around aimlessly with the smell of roasting castanhas (chestnuts) is a pleasure.
Until December 21, the churches of Lisboa (which are worth a look-see anyway) celebrate the season with shows that include choir performances, organ music, and more, held at various times during the afternoon and evening. Check out our calendar for specific details.
Did I mention the fruitcake? Forget what you think you may know about it, Lisbon does it right. During the holidays, the bolo rei (king cake) is all the rage. You can even find free samples at most Pingo Doce supermercados if you’re curious.
The festivities extend to Parque Eduardo VII, where the Christmas Village pops up to the delight of last-minute shoppers and kids in search of an enchanted forest, jolly elves, and of course, the big man himself, Santa. Last year it was reported that there were some real reindeer in Santa’s village, but don’t ask what happened to them after the Portuguese ran out of leitão (suckling pig).
HELPFUL HANGOVER HINT: Guronsan. Go to a pharmacy in advance as they will all be closed on New Year’s Day. It’s better than any remedy that you think works — and one of the better souvenirs to bring home for the alcoholics in your life (certainly not for yourself!).