Yesterday was São João

I was working in Lisbon, so no party for me… Well, actually that is not true!

My neighbour (1st floor) has  a restaurant and he is from Porto, so we had the typical portuguese music, the sardines, and one or two hammers! But nothing compared to what I am going to show you!

Yes, hammers! You read well!! It follows the explanation:

Every year, on the 24th of June, the city of Porto, in the north of Portugal, becomes lively and seemingly crazy. Thousands of people come to the city centre and to the most traditional neighborhoods to pay a tribute to Saint John the Baptist, in a party that mixes sacred and profane traditions (check out the Official Site of the Saint John’s Parties in Porto).

The festivities have been held in the city for more than six centuries, yet it was during the XIX century that Saint John’s day became impregnated in the city’s culture and assumed the status of the city’s most important festival.

In June 2004, a journalist from The Guardian commented that “Porto’s Festa de São João is one of Europe’s liveliest street festivals, yet it is relatively unknown outside the country”.

In fact, the party starts early in the evening of 23rd of June and usually lasts until the morning of 24 June. The traditional attractions of the night include street concerts, popular dancing parties, jumping over flames, eating barbecued sardines and meat, drinking wine and releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons over Porto’s summer sky.

At midnight the partygoers make a short break to look at the sky at Saint John’s firework spectacle. The show is increasingly sophisticated with the fireworks being associated with themes and multimedia shows. The party has sacred roots but is also mixed with pagan traditions, with the fireworks embodying the spirit of tribute to the Sun.

One could expect the firework to be the climax and mark the end of the festivities. Yet, it is quite common for citizens of Porto, with all ages, to keep celebrating until 3 or 4, 5 or 6 in the morning. Younger people take it even a step further. They walk from Porto’s riverside core – Ribeira (for instance the parish of São Nicolau (Porto) – up to the seaside in Foz (Foz do Douro or in the nearby suburb of Matosinhos where they wait for the sunrise near the sea.

Also, I need to mention the hammers, but this is better if you can check it at

If this taste of portuguese parties makes you thirsty, come next year and join me – and that’s all folks 🙂


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