Chances are that New Year celebrations in Portugal may be muted in 2012 as austerity measures click in. Traditionally, however, wild celebrations break out throughout the country on New Year’s Eve; as the clock strikes 12 midnight, party-goers munch on a dozen grapes to guarantee a happy coming year. A champagne toast follows and bars, clubs and restaurants stay open into the wee hours, with revelers overflowing into the streets.
Lisbon pours onto the streets for one gigantic outdoor party in celebration of Noite Mágica, literally ‘magic night.’ Live music, firecrackers and raucous merrymaking fill the air in Bairro Alto and Baixa-Chiado. Many people congregate around the Torre de Belém on the River Tagus for the midnight fireworks and laser displays, bands playing rock music, and fado singing.
In Northern Portugal children go from house to house singing traditional janeiros, or January songs, for good luck between New Year’s Eve and Epiphany on January 6; they are given treats of money and candy. Porto celebrates New Year with street parties, a free concert, and a firework display in Avenida dos Aliados that explodes over the River Duoro.
The whole island of Madeira is in fiesta at New Year; street parties, outdoor food stalls, and live music culminate at midnight in a firework extravaganza over the sea in Funchal. See the pyrotechnics at their best aboard a boat in the harbor.
4. Albufeira, Algarve
All the main resorts on the Algarve host New Year’s parties, but by far the biggest is in Albufeira where celebrations spread onto the beach. There’s live music and spectacular fireworks at midnight but at the time of writing no one could confirm that the annual big-name concert would go ahead.
Please note: throughout Portugal shops are closed on New Year’s Day and public transportation is severely limited.
- Sasha Heseltine