After two years of nada, the festas (parties) of Santo António are back come June! The main event is on the 12th of June, the eve of Saint Anthony day, but you can expect the whole month to be filled with local parties, or arraials, strewn through each neighborhood, indicated by bright garlands, the wafting scent of grilled sardines, makeshift bars hocking cheap cerveja and less-cheap caipirinhas, and, more often than not, the unmistakeable accordion-heavy pimba music— the Portuguese equivalent of polka. This might be one of the more famous examples of this soundtrack, should you be curious.
The feast day of the popular saints (festas dos Santos Populares) is Lisbon’s biggest street party of the year, when the namesake of the festas, the Lisbon-born Saint Anthony of Padua, is celebrated as the city’s patron saint (though some see him as an imposter in that right).
But this year’s party lineup is starting at the end of May, with a concert by Tito Paris at the Belém Tower, the parade route unveiling party at the St. António Museum, and the “Meeting of Associativism of the City of Lisbon” party in Alameda Dom Afonso Henriques, where you’ll find a nice mix of live music and regional gastronomy to kick things off right.
Cultura na Rua’s program for the month of the festas is rich and varied, so click here to see what’s on for the month ahead. Most notably, check out the Popular Marches demonstration at Altice Arena on June 3, 4, and 5, as the marchers have been waiting for two years to get back into their crazy costumes and makeup, so it’s sure to be something to behold.
St. Anthony is the patron saint of the lost and found, the protector of young brides, and is also revered for his prowess for matchmaking, but if you plan to investigate the festas on June 12, take a cue from the saint and hold your loved ones tight — if you get separated from your group or significant other, the odds of finding them again are slim to none as the streets are shoulder-to-shoulder in most cases, especially in Alfama and Barrio Alto, which often hold the biggest and rowdiest parties in town. Here’s a helpful list of other tips to help make your festas bright, jolly, and free from bathroom woes.
Aside from the parties, there are loads of items that are synonymous with the holiday, like the fragrant basil plants you’ll see popping up for sale, the St. Anthony figurines that single ladies can hold to lure a date, and, of course, the sardine cutouts that adorn the city.
Additionally, you’ll likely encounter the thrones of St. Anthony sprinkled throughout the city, decorated by both local arts-and-crafts aficionados and artisans keen to apply their talents to a new medium. If you’d like to try your hand at the latter creative outlet, The Museum of Lisbon is once again offering a pre-made platform ready to decorate as you see fit, as long as you place the finished product next to your door or on your balcony so that your tower can take place in the collective street exhibition as part of the Festas de Lisboa’22 program.
For more ideas on how to best celebrate Lisbon’s patron saint, check out Atlas’ events calendar. Enjoy the ride!