Package holidays in Vilamoura mainly focus on its vast, sandy beaches. Located on the southern coast of Portugal, it forms one of the corners known as The Algarve’s Golden Triangle and is something of a playground for the rich and famous.
As if that wasn’t enough to do already, Vilamoura hosts some of the best festivals in southern Portugal. The Portuguese really do love a fiesta.
To add a cultural twist to your trip, we have rounded up some of the most popular festivals in Vilamoura which you might want to plan around:
Vilamoura Carnival and sailing week
The carnival takes place in the second week of February, a great time to visit for those who prefer to avoid the scorching heat of the summer months. The main carnival takes place near the marina in the Quarteira.
The sailing regatta coincides with the carnival and is a highlight of the country’s sailing calendar. An infectious carnival atmosphere radiates all over Vilamoura, with the whole resort staging events and joining in with the celebratory spirit.
The carnival is everything the word itself suggests and floats parade the streets, brimming with colour and sound. Groups of dancers swathed in feathers and glitter pulsate to the music and there surely must be a shortage of false eyelashes in Vilamoura at carnival time. If you enjoy the style of a Brazilian carnival, then you’ll love this extravaganza.
The Fishermans’ Festival
If seafood is your favourite, this festival could easily have your taste buds in raptures.
The festival takes place on the weekend closest to the 31 May. The Fishermans’ Festival uses the Quarteira as the focal point of the event and is a showcase for local delicacies such as octopus, squid, mackerel and an incredible selection of shellfish. The stalls also sell fried, steamed and grilled fish dishes giving you the opportunity to gain cooking inspiration from experienced and amateur seafood enthusiasts.
There are live music concerts as well as traditional dancing but, on the whole, this festival enjoys a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than the annual carnival.
Popular Saints Festivities (Marchas dos Santos Populares)
Again, this festival utilises the idyllic marina location of the Quarteira. Held during the months of June and July, the festival is a vibrant echo of Vilamoura’s Catholic heritage. It is also a time in the calendar when everyone asks the saints to bless them with good luck.
The displays are steeped in the area’s traditions and history. The Catholic celebration of saints harks back to the invasion of Portugal by the Spanish. There are countless street parades where effigies of the local saints are decorated and proudly walked through the streets and local shops and restaurants are decorated, as are the street corners. Despite the festival’s religious origins, there is plenty of drinking, feasting and music to be enjoyed.
Other noteworthy festivals
There always seems to be something going on in Vilamoura. It has an opulent air and the resort really embraces the love of festivals.
The Sardine Festival is a popular event, taking place during the first fortnight of August. It does exactly what it says on the tin!
The Festival in honour of Our Lady of Conception is the mother of all saint celebrations and can be enjoyed annually on the 8 December.
The festival calendar ends each year in spectacular fashion with a firework display on New Year’s Eve in the ever-popular Quarteira. It’s an awe-inspiring spectacle of exploding colour that reflects in the still dark waters of the marina. Staring into the sky as you listen to the musical accompaniment, you realise why Vilamoura has become such a popular destination for the more mature traveller over the last 30 years. It’s because there always seems to be something to celebrate in vibrant Vilamoura.