After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Portugal’s Carnival of Torres Vedras is about to get back to the streets. “100 Years of the Carnival of Torres Vedras” is the theme of this year’s celebration that takes place between the 17th and 22nd of February. This edition kicks off the one-year Centenary Celebrations, with a program that goes from the 17th of February 2023 to the 14th of February 2024.
Torres Vedras, a city 40 minutes away from Lisbon, keeps old carnival traditions that passed on from generation to generation and that make this celebration unique. Known by its satirical characteristics, these Carnival festivities are one of the oldest in Portugal.
In its first edition since 2020, the revellers await for a meaningful event, marked by the 100 year anniversary of the Carnival of Torres Vedras. The tradition of the King of the Carnival dates back to 1923, even though the carnival manifestations are secular. Initially, only a King was part of the festivities, with a Queen, played by a man from the local community, joining only in 1924.
The Carnival of Torres Vedras begins with a parade (17 February), where thousands of children present the masks they have prepared at school over the past months. In the afternoon, the elderly have their own fun, showing their masks, playing and dancing in a masquerade ball.
In the evening, thousands of people gather at the train station, waiting for the arrival of the King and the Queen of the Carnival of Torres Vedras. Both these roles are played by men, continuing a tradition that started at the beginning of the 20th century.
Saturday night (18 February), masquerades will invade the town. On the first night, the parade hosts the Masquerade Group Contest, where dozens of groups finally reveal their creative and remarkable masks, looking for one of the prizes to recognize their effort. The second night the parade takes place is Monday, 20 February.
The Historic Centre will be flooded by music all weekend, everyone dancing to the DJs sound between 10pm and 4am. For a more traditional atmosphere, Portuguese folk music will be played at the “Arraial Fest” stage, with performances by Miguel Bravo, on 18 February, and Ruth Marlene, 20 February.
The highlights of the carnival will be on Sunday and Tuesday (19 and 21 February), when the daily parades, full of allegorical floats, masquerade groups, philharmonic bands and an incalculable number of spontaneous revellers will be taking over the streets of Torres Vedras.
The festivities end on Ash Wednesday (22 February), when the celebrators reunite to judge the King of the carnival next to the Court. After the judgement, a huge puppet representing the King explodes, fireworks colour the sky and everyone starts the countdown to the next fest.