Visit Braga at Easter and witness the traditions of Holy Week. Throughout this festive season, the city is decorated in religious motifs and the “Passos” – street altars – are filled with flowers and lights.
Among the many celebrations, make sure you see the main procession, where the ‘Farricocos’ (lay brothers), go barefoot with their heads’ covered. Wearing purple tunics, they hold torches in a re-enactment of the rites of public penitence and reconciliation common to the 16th century.
In the charming city of Viana do Castelo, between August 19th and 22nd; you can also join the Festival of Our Lady of Anguish. Since the 18th century, fishermen have been praying to the Virgin to grant them safe seas.
Various processions make up this three-day festival, accompanied by music and the wearing of colourful traditional costumes. Join the throng marching to the deafening sound of the “Zabumbas” bass drums and the “Gigantones” giant processions. The whole event is like a living museum, spectacularly rounded off with a firework display.
In Guimarães, where the Portuguese nation was first proclaimed, the first Sunday in July sees the Grand S. Torcato Pilgrimage, with a cortege processing along the city streets depicting allegorical scenes from the life of the saint. Later in summer, the Gualterianas Festivals are another highpoint with a procession in honour of Saint Gualter.