Loule’s fantastic Carnival is the oldest continuous pre-Lenten party in Portugal, with 118 years of celebrations, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the region with 600 entertainers, and 14 floats. It takes place this year on February 11, 12 and 13 and there will be a lot of teasing about Portuguese politics. Legend has it that it was Loule who first introduced Carnival to Rio de Janeiro - the world’s biggest and most famous Carnival event...!
Carnival season – celebrated all over Portugal – is a festival of lively Samba music, dance and, of course, spectacular costumes. These elaborate creations have to be seen to be believed! Many people spend months preparing their costumes for the celebration. From feathers to metal to sequins, with a little bit of flesh - you will see it all!
The tradition of Carnival was introduced several centuries ago by Catholics in Italy who started holding a wild costume festival the night before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during that period, they called their festival ‘Carnevale’, which means 'to put away the meat'. In time, Carnivals spread in popularity to France, Spain and eventually all the Catholic countries of Europe.
The high point is on Carnival Tuesday when many towns and cities across the country come to a complete standstill as lively parades of gaily-coloured floats fill the streets. Apart from Loule, the biggest and brightest parades can be found in Torres Vedras, Ovar, Funchal, Famalicão, Mealhada, Porto, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Sesimbra, and Lisbon.
For Portugal, Carnival is a show. The parades, the costumes, the music, the floats, the people and the food – it will have you awestruck. There are parties everywhere and everyone is happy, lively and welcoming.
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