Portugal is famous for its love of fiestas and festivals and the Algarve embraces the best of this with a hearty passion. This southern region of Portugal has an exciting programme of events that runs throughout the year, and visitors to Alvor will be well placed to enjoy some of the very best of them. From Mardi Gras to gastronomy, from music to motor racing, there is something for everyone to be found here.
The year begins with a bang as the New Year firework displays light up the length of the Algarve coastline and locals and visitors party in the local streets, homes, bars and restaurants. The pretty harbour at Alvor is the perfect spot from which to admire this dramatic hailing of the New Year.
After a little down time for recovery, Carnival arrives in late February or early March, hailing the beginning of Lent, forty days before the religious celebrations of Easter. Carnival is marked by a week of colourful parades and parties leading up to the main event on Mardi Gras, or Carnival Tuesday.
Celebrations in Alvor are as colourful as they are in the other Algarve coastal resorts, with floats and processions filling the streets with a party atmosphere and a distinctly Brazilian feel. Carnival is a festival for all the family, with children’s processions and fancy dress parades taking place alongside the more formal floats processions. The precise date of Carnival varies from year to year according to the lunar calendar and in line with Easter. Dates for forthcoming seasons include February 12th 2013 and March 4th 2014.
Easter is a time for family celebrations across the country and locally the focus is on the Folar Fairs. These involve music and entertainment throughout the streets – if you are here at this time don’t miss trying one of the traditional “folar” Easter cakes which come complete with a hard boiled egg, still in its shell, perched on top.
Liberation Day is celebrated throughout Portugal on 25th April each year, celebrating the revolution of 1974 that freed the country from the autonomous dictatorship of Salazar.
Labour Day marks another national holiday on 1st May, and tends to be a little more low-key, a time for Portuguese families to to celebrate together and enjoy some rest from their daily grind.
Located close to Alvor and its neighbour, Portimão, is the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. The Autódromo plays host to a number of motor racing events throughout the year, none more famous or widely celebrated than the World Touring Car Championships. The World Touring Car Championships take place in first few days of June and with entrance at only 10 euros and free for children, this makes a great fun day out for all the family if you happen to be staying in Alvor at this time.
Portimão is host to one of the tastiest celebrations on the Algarve during August – the Portimão Sardine Festival. This is celebrated annually during the second week of August and is usually centred in the area round the Quayside, within easy reach of central Alvor.
The Portimão Sardine Festival includes some wonderful food and drink, with freshly grilled sardines of course providing the centrepiece, and warms up throughout the evening before becoming a full-blown music concert at 10pm to bring the already excited crowd to a rousing crescendo. Entry into the competition to eat the most sardines in 15 minutes may not be for the faint hearted, but could provide a fitting anecdote to tell your grandchildren in years to come. A huge fireworks display marks the end of the festival on the evening of the final night.
Several national holidays mark the latter part of the year, with the Assumption of the Virgin on 15th August, Republic Day on 5th October, All Saints’ Day on 1st November, Restoration of Independence Day on 1st December, Immaculate Conception on 8th December and of course Christmas on 25th December.
All the national holidays are worth noting both for the fact that there will be some interesting celebrations and religious ceremonies to observe and because it is worth stocking up at the local supermarket the day before if you are in need of any essentials, as various shops in Alvor will observe bank holiday closing.
Whatever time of year you visit Alvor, you are sure to enjoy taking part in the colourful celebrations that mark the Portuguese calendar in this lovely part of the country.