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February, 2010   

February in Portugal means one thing – Carnival time! Each year, leading up to the beginning of lent, the Portuguese celebrate life with vibrant parades, street parties and music. 

Portugal’s Carnival is one of the biggest festivals of the year. It is most animatedly celebrated in Lisbon but the rest of the country also puts on a show and visitors will see parades wherever they go. Some of the most famous carnivals in Portugal are those in Ovar, Loulé and Torres Vedras.

The history of Carnival dates back hundreds of years ago, with its roots in the Catholic religion. It signals the end of the winter season and the beginning of lent. The Rio Carnival in Brazil and the Mardi Gras Carnival in New Orleans are perhaps the most widely known carnivals in the world, but due to Portugal’s strong Catholic tradition, Carnival here is also celebrated fully.

Lisbonis perhaps the best place to experience Carnival, as thousands of people fill the city centre and have one massive party! The best area to see the Carnival is in the modern part of Lisbon in Parque Nacoes along the riverfront. Partygoers will witness sumptuous parades, people dressed in elaborate costumes, dancing, floats and vibrant colour. This is also a great time to sample traditional Portuguese food as street vendors dot the streets. One can also witness decorated traditional Portuguese boats being sailed along the shoreline.

The best time for a city break to Lisbon is therefore now! With the improved exchange rate, there certainly is no better time to visit.