By Portuguese Tourism Board
The final stretch of the year arrives, and Portugal takes on a different glow. Known as the warmest winter corner of Europe, it’s no wonder: you can always count on pleasant winter sunshine, mild weather and light winds from December to February. It is not out of the question to walk on the beach at Christmas time, or to spend the afternoon on a beautiful esplanade.
But the whole country comes alive with Christmas entertainment, starting with the lights that bring joy and colour to urban centres – and not only. Christmas carols can be heard, the delights of the season can be seen filling the windows of pastry shops, from Bolo Rei to Filhoses, not forgetting Rabanadas (French toast); it is magical to experience Christmas in Portugal.
And at the centre of this magic are the Christmas markets and fairs, which animate localities from north to south of the country. Among sweets, local products, handicrafts and Christmas gifts, it is possible to find everything at these events, which usually have a Father Christmas present, often elves and other entertainment dedicated to the theme, providing unforgettable moments for the whole family.
The markets have another glow, very Portuguese; a welcoming people, with their own genuineness that reaches the stalls. The sweets are made with love, delivered with a smile; the souvenirs are for life and are sustainable, as the local handicrafts are made from materials unique to our country, such as cork and recyclable fibres. And this year, the big holiday events are really returning to Portugal!
In Lisbon, Wonderland will once again camp in the heart of the city of Lisbon, in Parque Eduardo VII, between 1 December and 2 January, and with it the huge Ferris wheel and the ice rink; at FIL, Natalis will last from 5 to 9 December, with various thematic markets, including some dedicated to gastronomy and sustainability – the latter also present at the Campo Pequeno Christmas Market, from 29 November to 2 December. The Cascais Christmas Village is back too, from 6 December to 1 January, transforming the town into a real “Christmas village”, with real reindeer and an eight-metre tree.
At Alfândega do Porto, the Christmas Village will be a first this year, from 24 November to 30 December, with surprises for wine lovers and a toy factory for the little ones. The usual Porto Christmas Market begins on 1 December and lasts until 24 December, with lots of music every day; the Feira Artesanatus is characterised by handmade items in Largo Amor de Perdição, from 8 to 23 December.
In other parts of the country, the same Christmas atmosphere can be found: in Coimbra, the traditional market runs from 3 to 24 December, in Praça Heróis do Ultramar. Óbidos Christmas Village is already a flagship of the celebrations in the centre of the country, spreading good cheer and fantasy from 30 November to 2 January. Bragança will once again assume its role as Christmas and Dreamland Country, from the location of Praça da Sé; a Transmontana-style festivity, with shows and a wine fair. The Christmas Village of Cabeça, in Seia, is a unique festivity as it only uses decorative materials taken from nature and is run by the residents, who welcome visitors from 18 December to 2 January. In Madeira, from 1 December to 6 January, the classic Mercadinho do Funchal takes place, full of Christmas delicacies from the archipelago.