Portugal always rings in the New Year with lively parties and lavish celebrations. The Algarve celebrates with an impressive programme of events and festivals. In particular, Solrir (the festival of humour) is a must-see. Enjoy local stand-up shows and a vibrant party atmosphere. You’ll certainly leave with a smile on your face.
March is an important month in Portugal, particularly for the residents of Loule. Each year, this traditional Portuguese market town plays host to the biggest and oldest carnival in the country. Dating back more than 100 years, it is said that this event introduced the carnival to Rio de Janeiro. Expect colourful costumes, lively samba music and incredible parades. The party continues for three days, one of which is entirely dedicated to children, and visitors are warmly encouraged to dress up.
Spring is a picturesque time to be in the Algarve as you can watch the greenery flourish and the wild flowers bloom in front of your eyes. Enjoy a visit to the Algarve Classical Music Festival, held in Faro. Throughout April and May, 14 different events take place including orchestral concerts and performances from guest musicians.
If the roar of an engine is your preferred sound then fear not, because May is also the month of the annual Power Boat Grand Prix, held in Portimão. This event sees competitors from across the globe battle it out on a 1,900-metre circuit to win this prestigious title. Held over three days, there are many qualifying events before the exciting final races.
On 10 June, Portugal celebrates its national day: Dia de Portugal. Locals take to the streets and party to remember Portuguese icon Luís de Camões – widely considered to be the country’s greatest poet – who died on this day in 1580. Awards and honours are handed out, and there is an exciting military demonstration.
Enjoy a slice of authentic Algarve living in Silves. This city was the original ancient capital of the region and showcases historical ruins and fascinating museums. June is the best time to visit Silves as the summer hasn’t reached its peak – ideal if you want to avoid soaring temperatures and the biggest crowds. A day here wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a local eatery to enjoy regional recipes including cataplana (stew) and doces finos (ornate sweets).
July and August are the height of summer in the Algarve, and the region comes alive with festivals and events. A highlight of the season is Faro’s Festa da Ria Formosa – a 10-day seafood festival celebrating local produce and pioneering flavour combinations. Enjoy free tasting sessions and cooking demonstrations, and discover some of the finest ingredients in the region.
History buffs will love the Roman Ruins of Milreu, located just north of Faro. This incredible site contains still-intact mosaics and historical temple ruins. The summer is the ideal time to discover Milreu as the strong, abundant sunlight reveals the finer details of the complex mosaics. Afterwards, escape the heat in Faro’s Municipal Museum, which houses beautiful statues and original columns salvaged from the site.
Autumn is the best time for birdwatching in the Algarve. As the leaves die off for the year, raptors take to the skies in search of prey. Look out for black kite and booted eagle cruising among the clouds. A great place to spot local wildlife is the wetlands of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Enjoy a boat tour to see the colourful flamingo that gather here at this time of year.
Along with most of South America, Portugal celebrates the Day of the Dead in November. This vibrant festival honours loved ones who have died and features music, dancing and delicious traditional delicacies. Make sure to try cozido – this hearty winter soup is to die for.
As Portugal enters the festive season, enjoy Christmas amid pleasantly mild weather. Expect spectacular decorations and buzzing Christmas markets.