Lisbon Events, Festivals and Attractions 2015
Lisbon’s calendar is packed with diverse festivals and cultural events throughout the year, from art and craft exhibitions to fashion, food and film. Fans flock to the huge summer music festivals, while contemporary theatre, outdoor jazz concerts and motor-racing competitions offer something for every taste. Traditional festivals in the towns of Óbidos and Fátima also attract many locals and visitors alike.
Please note that events held outside Lisbon are marked with an asterisk (*).
New Year's Concert – Centro Cultural de Belém – 1 January
Like many capital cities around the world, the New Year in Lisbon is celebrated with a grand concert. The New Year’s Concert is held at the CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém) on the evening of 1st January, featuring the prestigious Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra.
Fado in Chiado – Cine Theatro Gymnásio – 1 January to 31 December
Experience the heart and soul of Portuguese culture at Fado in Chiado. Throughout the year, talented singers and musicians perform this uniquely Portuguese genre of music, which has been declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This live Fado show is held at the Cine Theatro Gymnásio in Chiado every evening (except Sundays), accompanied by a slideshow of Lisbon’s most iconic attractions.
The streets of Lisbon are crowded with excited partygoers during the Carnival season. Celebrated with a number of free events across the city, the highlight is the Carnival Parade on Shrove Tuesday, featuring dazzling costumes, samba bands and floats on show in downtown Lisbon. Many people dress up in colourful costumes and hit the bars and streets to enjoy the samba music. Lively Carnival celebrations in Torres Vedras, Loures and Sesimbra are also popular events.
Moda Lisboa (Lisboa Fashion Week) – Pátio da Galé – Terreiro do Paço
Moda Lisboa is the most acclaimed fashion event in Lisbon, offering local designers a moment in the spotlight to showcase their latest collections. Twice a year (during March and October) in Pátio da Galé, well-known and emerging designers present inspiring new designs and fashion-forward collections for the coming seasons, with a distinct crescendo in quality and glamour every year.
Meia maratona de Lisboa EDP (Lisbon’s Half-Marathon)
For over 20 years, the Lisbon Half-Marathon has attracted elite athletes from around the world. The flat, fast course starts on the southern side of the 25th of April Bridge, crosses the Tagus River and finishes in front of the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. Running across the 2.2 km long 25th of April Bridge is a rare and exhilarating experience and the half-marathon world record has been broken several times over the history of the event.
Vodafone Rally de Portugal – *Lisbon/Algarve – March/April
The Vodafone Rally de Portugal is a popular 3-day rally car event, which is an action-packed part of the FIA World Rally Championships. Divided into a number of special stages, the rally begins at the Praça do Império in Lisbon and then heads south to the Algarve and includes three night stages. Spectators can purchase a Rally Pass, which offers exclusive access to see the best of the action!
Easter Celebrations – *Óbidos
Holy Week celebrations in Óbidos date back to the 17th century. Held from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, the solemn religious ceremonies include traditional re-enactments, Masses and torchlight processions. Attracting thousands of visitors and devotees every year, the cultural program also includes art and sculpture exhibitions, musical performances and guided tours of the historical town.
Peixe em Lisboa (Lisbon Fish & Flavours) – Pátio da Galé – Terreiro do Paço
Lisbon Fish and Flavours is a popular food festival celebrating one of the main culinary specialities of the city – fish – which is skilfully prepared in a mouth-watering number of combinations and flavours. Wander around the exhibition stands to buy gourmet products, enjoy talks and tastings, watch cooking demonstrations and savour gastronomic delights created by Portugal’s most celebrated chefs.
Dias da Música em Belém (Music Days in Belém) – Centro Cultural de Belém
Organised by CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém), this music festival features a programme of concerts, activities and workshops for music lovers of all ages, from adults to families, children and even babies. The concerts take place in a number of different venues in the CCB and range from classical music concerts to jazz, opera and folk music.
Indie Lisboa International Independent Film Festival – April to May
One of the main film festivals in Lisbon, Indie Lisboa is dedicated to contemporary independent cinema produced by promising new Portuguese and international filmmakers. Feature films from the five continents cater for all cinema lovers, including animation, documentaries, short films and experimental films. Alongside the screenings taking place in various cinemas around Lisbon, there are also lectures and master classes featuring invited filmmakers and special guests.
Estoril Open (Tennis Tournament) – Oeiras – April/May
The Estoril Open is an ATP and WTA clay court tournament, offering an unique opportunity to see some of the top-ranked male and female tennis champions in action. Held at the National Stadium in Oeiras, this major international tennis tournament attracts some of the best tennis players in the world.
International Chocolate Festival – *Óbidos – April/May
The beautiful town of Óbidos is host to the annual International Chocolate Festival, which features an enticing program of events for all ages. From cooking demonstrations, cake design and decorating competitions to workshops and a fantastic exhibition of chocolate sculpture, this festival is a delectable celebration of chocolate. Children will enjoy taking part in various cooking activities, while a number of shows and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained.
Jazz in Lisbon – Lisbon/Estoril – May to September
The arrival of summer is Lisbon is marked by a number of regular jazz concerts. Out Jazz is a series of free open-air concerts in the city’s beautiful parks and gardens every Sunday evening while Jazz às 5ªs is held every Thursday at the Centro Cultural de Belém. Estoril Jazz is a major week-long event for jazz aficionados, attracting a host of acclaimed musicians and groups to the cosmopolitan coastal resort of Estoril.
Lisbon International Triathlon – Parque das Nações
Held at the futuristic Parque das Nações along the riverfront, the Lisbon International Triathlon attracts over 800 participants from 30 countries. The spectator-friendly swim course is held in a unique artificial lake, the bicycle course offers inspiring views of the Tagus river and the running course is held in the heart of the venue. Race day temperatures average around 26 degrees and an expo of equipment and apparel is also held over the 3 days of the event.
Pilgrimages to Fátima – *Fátima – 11-13
Fátima is famous for its religious sanctuary and the Marian apparitions that occurred in 1917. The immense square and basilica are filled with pilgrims and devotees on the anniversary of the apparition, with celebrations including multilingual masses and candlelit processions. The heart of the sanctuary is the Little Chapel of the Apparitions, while the Monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands in the centre of the square.
Alkantara Festival – May/June
The Alkantara Festival is an international biennial dedicated to the performing arts. During the course of this festival, many of Lisbon’s concert halls, theatres, squares and parks are filled with music, theatre and dance performances. The diverse programme of cultural events attracts performers from Portugal, all over Europe and many other parts of the world. Don’t miss out on the passion and drama of Alkantara Festival!
Sintra Festival – Sintra – May/June
For two weeks the summer, classical music fills the concert halls, manor houses and historical palaces of enchanting Sintra. The Sintra Festival is a celebration of music, dance, theatre and cultural events featuring international pianists, conductors and musicians as well as local ensembles. Events are held in some of the most beautiful venues in Lisbon, including the National Palace of Queluz, the National Palace of Sintra and the Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval.
Rock in Rio – Parque da Bela Vista – May/June (last weekend in May and 1st weekend in June)
Every two years, Rock in Rio returns to Lisbon as one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Headlined by the biggest names in rock and pop, the festival also has a strong focus on creating awareness about environmental issues. Originating in Rio de Janeiro in 1985, Rock in Rio has since expanded to include events in Lisbon and Madrid. Parque da Bela Vista is transformed into a theme park for the duration of the event, featuring rides and food stalls.
Festas de Lisboa (Lisbon Festivities) – 1-30
For over 80 years, the city of Lisbon come alive during the month of June with festivities in honour of its patron saint – Santo António. The neighbourhoods of Alfama and Bairro Alto are colourfully decorated for the occasion and free concerts are performed on numerous stages throughout the city. One of the highlights is the grand parade along Avenida da Liberdade on the night of 12 June. Locals and visitors feast on freshly-grilled sardines and enjoy the lively festivities around the city!
Arraial Pride – Terreiro do Paço
Arraial Pride is a free, open air party in Terreiro do Paço and the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event in Lisbon. This lively celebration of diversity and identity is part of the annual Festas de Lisboa and includes performances by DJs and musicians, a Pride Village of tents, bars and restaurants, queer film screenings as well as activities for children.
Festival Flamenco de Lisboa
Energetic and seductive, Lisbon’s Flamenco Festival brings together the world’s most renowned flamenco dancers and musicians. This week-long festival features concerts, exhibitions, seminars, gourmet cuisine, beautiful costumes and dramatic, soul-stirring music at a number of venues in Lisbon.
Festival ao Largo – Largo de São Carlos – June/July
Throughout June and July, a free programme of arts and cultural events is held every evening in Largo de São Carlos, in the heart of Chiado. The grand square outside the São Carlos Theatre is a beautiful backdrop for classical music performances, featuring the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra, National Ballet Company and the Gulbenkian Orchestra, accompanied by guest musicians, singers and choirs. A unique opportunity to enjoy summer concerts in the centre of Lisbon!
Medieval market – *Óbidos
Step back in time at the medieval market in Óbidos, when the walled town recreates the spirit of medieval Europe for two weeks in July. Stroll around the city to see people dressed in full medieval costume – from noblemen to merchants and jesters. Wandering minstrels play music in the streets, while entertainers and fire-eaters perform for locals and visitors. The outdoor market offers a wide selection of traditional handicrafts and a number of events are held next to the castle, including exciting jousting tournaments.
Festival de Teatro de Almada
Festival de Teatro de Almada is Portugal’s major theatre festival, attracting over 30,000 spectators across the Tagus River to the municipality of Almada. Hosting a diverse programme of spectacular contemporary theatre, this festival attracts the finest performers, producers and directors from theatre companies throughout Europe. Taking place in a number of venues, the programme also features symposiums with international directors, producers and actors, workshops and performances of traditional music and dance from across the globe.
Super Bock Super Rock Music Festival – Parque das Nações
Headlined by the world’s biggest acts in rock, pop, metal and electronic music, Super Bock Super Rock has grown into one of the largest music festivals in Portugal. Promising a fantastic weekend of sun, sea and rock ‘n roll, the 3-day event is staged in a beautiful location in Lisbon, Parque das Nações. After the latest editions in Meco beach in Sesimbra, this festival returned to Lisbon, Parque das Nações in 2015, twenty years after its birth place, along the Tagus River, Maritime Alcântara Docks. This new location offers flexibility in terms of transport and accommodation.
NOS Alive Music Festival – Passeio Marítimo de Algés
NOS Alive is Lisbon’s major music and arts event, an eagerly anticipated 3-day festival featuring a number of outstanding international bands as well as local musicians. Boasting a stunning riverside location in Passeio Marítimo de Algés, the best rock, pop and DJ superstars perform over a number of stages, complemented by stalls, arts events, bars and restaurants. Camping is also available in Monsanto, with a free shuttle service to the festival site.
EDP Cool Jazz Fest – Oeiras
The EDP Cool Jazz Fest offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to appreciate Lisbon’s fantastic jazz scene. A highlight of the Lisbon events calendar since 2004, the EDP Cool Jazz Fest takes place in Oeiras during the month of July. Outdoor concerts featuring local and international jazz artists combine music, history and nature – a wonderful way to enjoy Lisbon’s perfect summer evenings.
Semanas de Música do Estoril (Estoril Music Weeks) – Estoril
Semanas de Música do Estoril was established in 2001 as a merger of three exciting classical music events. Held at a number of venues in Estoril, this festival has grown in recent years to include orchestral and choral concerts as well as outdoor performances and chamber recitals. The International Master Courses are open to participants around the world and conducted by world-renowned musicians, while the Estoril National Competition contributes to the promotion of talented new musicians.
Festival dos Oceanos (Lisbon’s Oceans Festival) – Lisbon
Enjoy Lisbon’s summer sunshine and the refreshing ocean breeze at the Festival dos Oceanos, which attracts thousands of visitors to Lisbon’s gorgeous riverfront. One of the biggest summer events in Lisbon, this two-week festival has a different ocean-inspired theme each year and includes a number of free events for all ages including concerts, cultural entertainment, street performances and fireworks from Belém to Parque das Nações. Many museums are also open in the evenings as part of this major event.
International Arts and Crafts Festival
The International Handicraft Fair, that has over two decades, is held in Lisbon, in Parque das Nações (Park of Nations), and is the largest craft show in the Iberian Peninsula. Here you will find dozens of artisans (if not over a hundred), from all over the country, showing their work and promoting the region where they come from.
Summer nights at the MNAC – Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado (National Museum of Contemporary Art) – July to September
From July to September, the nights are different at the Museu do Chiado. Every Friday, in the outdoor area of the museum, the Sculptures Garden, there are free-entry concerts, with different sounds from several quality guest artists.
Jazz em Agosto (Jazz in August) – Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Headlined by acclaimed international jazz musicians and popular ensembles, Jazz em Agosto reflects innovative directions in contemporary jazz. From its modest beginnings in 1984, this popular event has developed into an international music festival featuring a new generation of jazz musicians. Held in the beautiful outdoor amphitheatre in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the compelling programme of music and events is not to be missed!
Festas do Mar (Cascais Sea Festival) – Cascais
Festas do Mar is a free summer festival in the seaside resort of Cascais, west of Lisbon’s city centre. Taking place over 10 days in a number of venues, this annual festival includes craft shows, Portuguese cuisine, local bands, international musicians and dazzling fireworks displays. The traditional procession in honour of Our Lady of the Navigators is celebrated on the final day of the festival.
Happy Holi – Colour Festival - Lisbon
Happy Holi is a music, dance and (literally) colour festival! Happy Holi Lisbon attracts thousands and thousands of participants, in an unique and successful initiative. This festival aims at all kinds of public and includes DJ performances and other fun activities. The highlight of this festival is when coloured powders are released, painting all participants and creating a colourful and joyful atmosphere.
Festival Música Viva – Centro Cultural de Belém
Offering much more than a series of concerts, Festival Música Viva is dedicated to showcasing works by talented young composers in the field of contemporary classical music. For over 20 years, this festival has hosted the best European and international composers, interactive audiovisual performances and diverse representations of the endless possibilities in improvisation and sound.
MOTELx Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror – Cinema São Jorge
MOTELx is Lisbon’s annual International Horror Film Festival, featuring a selection of the best (and most terrifying) new horror films for movie fans. Presented at the Cinema São Jorge, this genre ranges from classic and experimental to supernatural and monster movies. The MOTELx Award for Best Portuguese Horror Short Film is also presented, as well as feature films, documentaries, international shorts and a special programme for younger audiences.
Caixa Alfama Festival
Caixa Alfama Festival aims to honour and distinguish fado. This festival receives big and promising fado names, who together celebrate this uniquely Portuguese music type. This event takes place in Alfama and includes performances of over 40 fado singers on several stages all over this historic district.
Festa do Cinema Francês (French Film Festival)
In association with Alliance Française Portugal, this festival of French cinema is a popular event for Francophiles throughout the country. The festival tours through six cities in Portugal (including Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Coimbra), attracting an audience of over 30,000 spectators. Screening everything from French movie premiers and award-winning films to tributes to French cinematic masterpieces, a number of actors and directors are also invited to present and discuss their films. The programme also includes animated films, music and visual arts performances.
Doclisboa – Festival Internacional de Cinema
Devoted to the genre of documentary film, Doclisboa offers a diverse programme of non-fiction feature films and freeform documentaries from acclaimed European and international filmmakers. Attracting over 30,000 visitors annually, this festival of independent cinema strives to provide a public forum for reflection and debate, complemented by events including master classes, retrospectives, workshops, exhibitions and documentary films for kids. Documentaries are screened in a number of venues around Lisbon.
Sintra Misty – Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval
Set in the beautiful hills of Sintra, Sintra Misty is a popular world music festival with a focus on the art of songwriting. Every year, this festival of music and words offers a superb programme of events in the Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval, including a line-up of local and international artists performing unique folk, rock and electronic music.
Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival
Film aficionados enjoy an exciting programme of screenings and events at the annual Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival. Featuring the newest European and international films and a popular awards section, a number of complementary events are also scheduled including master classes with influential figures in the film world, art exhibitions, concerts, workshops for children and tributes to unique filmmakers. Films are screened at a number of venues in Lisbon and Estoril, including Cinema São Jorge, the CCB and the Estoril Casino.
Arte Lisboa – Parque das Nações
Arte Lisboa is Lisbon’s annual Contemporary Art Fair, a 4-day exhibition of local and international artworks by renowned and emerging artists. Held at the Feira Internacional de Lisboa by the Tagus River in Parque das Nações, Arte Lisboa showcases a number of art galleries representing visionary artists from Portugal, Europe and the international art community, bringing together museum directors, curators, gallery owners, artists and collectors, as well as over 20,000 visitors annually.
Maratona de Lisboa (Lisbon Marathon)
The Lisbon marathon is a popular race through the streets and hills of the Portuguese capital. Participants can choose from three events (a 42 km full marathon, a half marathon and a 6 km mini-marathon) that loop around the centre of Lisbon and finish at the Estadio 1° de Maio. The temperature in December is cool and sunny with about 45% humidity – perfect race conditions!
Christmas in Lisbon
Lisbon dazzles at Christmastime with a twinkling array of lights and decorations throughout the city, especially in Chiado and Avenida da Liberdade. Choirs perform in many churches and squares throughout the city, creating a wonderful festive atmosphere. Pick up a paper cone of roasted chestnuts from the carts on street corners and try the Bolo Rei – a traditional Portuguese Christmas cake covered in crystallised fruit.
New Year's Eve – Terreiro do Paço – 31
New Year’s Eve in Lisbon is a joyous celebration to mark the transition to the New Year. Stages are set up in Terreiro do Paço for a number of live concerts featuring Portugal’s most renowned artists. Join in the crowds and festivities and find a spot along the riverfront to enjoy the dazzling fireworks display at midnight.