Visiting Southern Portugal’s highly developed and always sultry Vilamoura is ideal during summer and any season. Aside from the long stretch of beaches, the delicious local dishes of mostly fresh seafood, the wineries, and excellent accommodation, Vilamoura and the rest of the Algarve has plenty of annual and special events in store for its visitors.
From musicals, concerts, hiking events, marathons, art exhibits, and the famous sardines’ festival, there is always something to attend, partake of, and cherish during a visit in Vilamoura marina and the Algarve.
Wild, Wet, and Fiery: Carnival in Vilamoura
Surely an event that shouldn’t be missed while in the South of Portugal is the famous Carnival. The Carnival takes place in the Quarteira, a short distance from the Vilamoura marina. The Carnival takes its roots from the Brazilian carnival, with its gaudy street revellers, massive floats, and sweaty, glittery dancing.
Visitors who come a bit earlier in the year are lucky to join the festivities. Carnival takes place during the second week of February.
Quarteira is where the main event happens, but all over Vilamoura and the rest of the Algarve, carnival-inspired parties and satellite events, such as the Vilamoura Carnival Sailing Week, also take place. Live music, showcase of local delicacies, festive décor, and lots of high-spirited celebration infects the entire marina during Carnival.
Visitors who miss the Carnival will find a different but equally high-spirited mood with the Fisherman’s Festival, also held in the Quarteira. This event showcases the local catch—Vilamoura after all is a coastal town rich in seafood and fish products—and the ingenuity and skill of the town’s very own fishermen and seafarers.
Feast of Saints, Algarve Style
April, May, and June are the trio of months where the saint-themed feasts take place—so if Catholic pomp and revelry is what you’re looking for, here are the months to check on the calendar.
Iberian culture, which Portugal is one of the strongest proponents of, is known for its Catholic influences that have spread out across Asia and Latin America during the last five centuries. The Spanish Inquisition aside, one remnant of this heritage is the continuing tradition of upholding saints. But far from a strictly being a religious event, the feast of saints is also a time where local culture and history are on vibrant display.
Taking place during the second until the last week of June—courtesy of St. Anthony’s Day on the 13th, St. John on the 24th, and St. Peter on the 29th—the popular saints festival draws not only the locals but also the tourists who come to Vilamoura and the Algarve for a taste of Iberian culture.
Coloured paper laces are wrapped around wood arches, which are either paraded or put up as decoration on street corners and establishments. Dances are held during the day of the saint, and spruced up altars are displayed not just for the faithful but also for visitors looking to gain some good luck during the celebration.
But what is a feast of saints’ festival without honouring the Great Mother of saintly festivals?
The Great Feast of the Sovereign Mother is an event that venerates the Lady of Mercy come April of each year. The procession to the Duarte Pacheco Monument from the São Francisco church is one of the highlights of the event. A band follows the procession as the icon of the Lady of Mercy is held aloft by volunteers and presented to the public. The event is capped off with a colourful fireworks display.
Also known as the Festival do Marisco, the Shellfish Festival in Olhão should give seafood lovers a reason to return year after year to the Algarve. The festival celebrates the rich history of this Southern European seaport and its unique culinary dishes. From octopus to conch, cuddle fish to oysters, everything is offered fresh from the fishing boat and sold at a reasonable festival discount.
Stalls selling grilled, sautéed, steamed, fried, boiled, and fresh seafood are abundant in the streets during the Festival do Marisco. Complementing the event are drier but nonetheless scrumptious live concerts, dance contests, and arts and crafts displays.
World Class Golfing in Vilamoura
Salt, sun, and sea are not the only staple elements of the Algarve. The green too is known to draw hundreds of visitors to the town. Golfing events such as the Portugal Masters are held late in the year at top tier courses such as the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course, one of the many facilities in the region.