Carnaval is a celebration that officially starts on the Friday preceding the start of Lent and ends on Shrove Tuesday.
There are two schools of thought as to the origins of the festival. The first believes it to be a celebration prior to the beginning of Lent, with its fasting, the word deriving from the Latin carne levare (remove meat). The second suggests that it is a country feast (carnualia) or the festival of the Navigium isidis (ship of Isis) with the image of Isis being carried to the sea to bless the start of the sailing season.
Along the Algarve the festivities are varied, some are held over the weekend whilst others will continue into Tuesday.
Of course, the most famous of Algarve Carnavals is perhaps the one held in Loulé and that is reputed to be the only carnaval in Portugal that has run, continuously, over 100 years.
This year’s theme is Once Upon a Time in Louléwood (Era uma vez em… Louléwood) and it is expected that there will be floats celebrating, or poking fun at, celebrities, film heroes and villains.
The children’s carnaval (February 21) kicks things off at 10am with the whole day dedicated to activities and fun for children.
The Grand Ball (this year aptly named the Grand Premiere) is scheduled for Monday (February 24) and will be held at the Salão de Festas de Loulé, starting at 10pm.
The organisers encourage participants to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Cafés, for example, will use 100% biodegradale cups that can be reused a few times and there will be specific bins to throw them into after use so that they can be used as composting landfill afterwards.
Entrance is €2 with the carnaval centred around Avenida José da Costa Mealha.
Moving along to Portimão, the theme this year is focusing on the sea. With a seemingly spontaneous “pop up” idea and reflecting carnaval traditions, Portimão’s carnaval encourage all to join in promising there will be something for all to enjoy. It has been running since February 8 and ends on Tuesday (25).
Saturday (February 22) the parade begins at 4pm in Alvor, Praia da Rocha and also Portimão simultaneously, with a big parade and plenty to enjoy on February 25 in again in Portimão. The full programme can be downloaded from here.
And in Lagos, there will be plenty of fun to be had on Sunday (23) and also on Tuesday (25). Starting on Sunday with the day dedicated to children there will be parades in Bensafrim, Praia da Luz and of course Lagos – Friday (21) you will be able to see the infants also parading with their nurseries in various parishes. The main event though takes place on Tuesday, with Odiáxere leading the way as is customary. For more information on Odiáxere’s programme throughout carnaval click here.
Image courtesy of Placido De Cervo