Traditional May Festivals of Portugal

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We usually prepare our trips in advance. That’s why we decided to tell you about the Spring Festivals in Portugal. May is a month that holds special significance in Portugal, as it is associated with various traditional festivities and religious celebrations. There are several reasons why May is a particularly rich month for festivals in Portugal.

May is historically associated with agricultural practices and rituals, particularly in rural areas of Portugal. Festivals during this month may celebrate the end of the sowing season or seek blessings for a bountiful harvest. These events involve processions, music, traditional costumes, and offerings to agricultural deities or saints.

Festa da Maia

Festa da Maia is a traditional festival that takes place on May 1st in the town of Maia, located in the Porto District of Portugal. This lively celebration marks the arrival of spring and is deeply rooted in local customs and folklore. Festa da Maia has a rich history dating back many centuries and holds great significance within the community.

The festival is named after the “Maia,” a decorative arch made of flowers, plants, and branches that are constructed in various locations across the town. These arches serve as symbols of fertility, rebirth, and the awakening of nature after the winter season. The creation of the Maia involves meticulous craftsmanship, with participants showcasing their artistic skills and creativity.

Festa das Cruzes

The Festa das Cruzes, or the Festival of the Crosses, is a traditional celebration that takes place every year from May 3rd to May 5th in the city of Barcelos. This vibrant and colorful festival is deeply rooted in religious and historical significance and is one of the most anticipated events in the region.

It commemorates an ancient legend that tells the story of a miraculous appearance of a cross in the city during a severe drought. According to the legend, the cross was discovered by a group of locals who went on to perform a procession and pray for rain. Miraculously, rain began to fall, ending the drought and bringing relief to the land. The festival became a way to honor this event and express gratitude for the blessings received.

During the festival, the city is decorated with thousands of colorful flowers and crosses that adorn the streets, squares, and buildings. The main highlight is the grand parade, where locals dressed in traditional costumes carry ornate crosses through the city.

Festas da Nossa Senhora de Fátima

The Festas da Nossa Senhora de Fátima, also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, is one of the most significant religious and cultural celebrations in Portugal. This festival, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, honors the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fátima, a small town in central Portugal, in 1917. It takes place annually on the 12th and 13th of May, attracting thousands of pilgrims and visitors from around the world.

It begin on the evening of the 12th of May, with a candlelight procession known as the Procissão das Velas (Procession of Candles). Participants carry candles and walk in procession, recreating the journey of the three shepherd children who witnessed the apparitions. The procession concludes at the Chapel of the Apparitions, where prayers, songs, and religious ceremonies take place throughout the night.

On the 13th of May, the main day of the festivity, large crowds gather at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima for Mass and other religious services. The highlight of the day is the Eucharistic celebration known as the Missa da Peregrinos (Mass for Pilgrims), held at the outdoor Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima. The atmosphere is filled with deep devotion, prayer, and emotional experiences as pilgrims seek blessings and express their faith.

Throughout the festivity, the town of Fátima is adorned with decorations, including flags, flowers, and religious imagery. The streets are bustling with stalls selling religious items, souvenirs, and traditional food. Many pilgrims bring religious objects to be blessed and reaffirm their devotion to Our Lady of Fátima.

Festa da Rita

Although Festa da Rita is commonly associated with the town of Canidelo in Vila Nova de Gaia, it is also celebrated in other parts of Portugal, including Aveiro. Festa da Rita in Aveiro is a local festival that honors Saint Rita of Cascia and pays tribute to her miraculous acts and devoutness. The festival takes place on the 22nd of May and draws locals, pilgrims, and visitors who come together to celebrate and honor the patron saint.

The festivities begin with a religious ceremony at the Church of Saint Rita, where devotees gather to attend mass and offer prayers. Following the religious rituals, there is a procession through the streets of Aveiro, led by a statue or image of Saint Rita. The procession is accompanied by religious hymns, and participants dressed in traditional costumes walk alongside, expressing their devotion and seeking the saint’s blessings.

Throughout the day, the festival continues with various cultural and entertainment activities. Local craftsmen and artisans showcase their work at stalls, offering handmade goods and traditional products. Music performances, folk dances, and theatrical shows entertain the crowd, creating a festive and joyful atmosphere. Food stalls serve up regional delicacies, providing a gastronomic experience for visitors.


Are you a tourist or you leave in Portugal, now you know when and where to go see the best festivals ever and to feel you a part of local traditions. Festivals bring together residents, fostering a sense of belonging and unity within neighborhoods and towns. They provide an opportunity for people to connect, socialize, and strengthen communal bonds through shared traditions, celebrations, and volunteer efforts.

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