Like all Latin countries, Portugal takes its celebrations and festivals very seriously and opportunities to party are frequent. Faro is one of the best destinations in the Algarve in which to enjoy the many festivals on offer in the region, with something to celebrate happening pretty much every month throughout the year.
The city of Faro is a major location for sporting events and music concerts, with its 30,000-seater stadium able to cater perfectly for large crowds of fun-seeking fans from all over the country and beyond. Rock, Jazz and classical music concerts take place throughout the year, but the summer months in particular are popular times to catch world-class bands playing to sell out audiences under the stars of a balmy Algarvean evening.
Other sporting events predominate along the length of the Algarve. Faro and the surrounding areas play host to surfing, sailing, boating, kitesurfing, golf, tennis and cycling tournaments throughout the year thanks to the area’s high quality facilities and installations.
The year usually begins with a bang thanks to large New Year firework displays along the length of the Algarve at most major centres. Faro is no exception, and the fourth floor terrace at the Hotel Faro is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious New Year celebration meal accompanied by a bird’s eye view of some of the best displays around.
Carnival is next on the agenda. Carnival usually takes place some time between mid February and mid March, with the exact dates being dictated by the lunar calendar, much the same way as Easter is calculated. Carnival usually involves a week or so of colourful parades and parties leading up to the main festival event on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) and Faro is no exception, with colourful floats filling the streets with music and a party atmosphere.
The children’s fancy dress parade is the highlight of events for the younger generation, taking place between the Jardim Manuel Bivar and Praça da Pontinha and features many of the primary school children from in and around Faro. It is worth making a trip out to Estoi too, some eleven kilometres from town, where the children’s parade makes its way through the streets surrounding the magnificent restored Estoi Palace. On Carnival Saturday the centre of Faro opens itself up to cyclists where all are welcome to come down and have fun on two wheels. The festival has its roots in ancient mythology, when bacchanalia marked one final fling of hedonism and indulgence before the time of fasting (now Lent).
Easter is a time for family fun and celebration across the Algarve. The area is known for its Folar Fairs, in which music and entertainment fill the streets and visitors have the chance to taste traditional “folar” Easter cakes which come complete with a hard boiled egg, still in its shell, perched on top. Close to Faro at Tavira, there is a triumphal procession on Palm Sunday, which dates back to the eighteen century when it was introduced by the Carmelite Monks of the city.
Faro’s International Music Festival takes places in late April or Early May and features well known classical pieces performed by many of Portugal’s leading orchestras.
The Moto Clube de Faro has been established for over twenty-five years and now plays host to one of the biggest annual motorbike festivals in Europe. The Faro International Motorbike Rally draws thousands of visitors from all over the continent to enjoy live concerts every night headlined by well known rock bands and famous names such as Billy Idol.
Some choose to stay in Faro’s many hotels while others prefer to camp in the official campsite for quick and easy access to the exhibitions and entertainment. 24-hour bars, tattoo contests, huge bike show, bike sales exhibitions and of course the rally itself provide plenty to keep the fans busy from dawn till dusk – and right through the night. The International Motorbike Rally has earned itself a huge reputation since it started and is often referred to as the “biking mecca” thanks to its well-earned success.
August is ushered in by the Ria Formosa Festival, a feast of traditional local food and drink. Seafood and locally-brewed beer dominate the proceedings, providing an insight into the rich cultural and gastronomic heritage of the area. The Ria Formosa Festival takes place in and around Faro, right at the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, one of Portugal’s seven official natural wonders. Hot on its heels comes the annual Sardine Festival, with events across the Algarve, particular in Faro and Portimão featuring freshly caught and grilled sardines from the local waters. With so much to celebrate, it is easy to see why Faro is the perfect travel destination no matter what the season.