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Porto, Portugal

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ABOVE: First-year students from the University of Porto's medical school participate in a traditional September hazing ritual.

Events and festivals

The regional tourist office, Porto & North of Portugal Tourism, supplied the data for this month-by-month roundup of events and festivals in Porto:

In January, A Night of Kings takes place, with concerts of "erudite music." Another highlight is the traditional "Janeiras" singing, when groups of New Year's carolers sing traditional songs in the streets or from door to door.

February brings Fantasporto, a.k.a. the Oporto International Film Festival. The event, which runs from late February through early March, is designed "to promote films that seek new forms and methods of filmmaking."

March offers the Porto Interceltic Festival, which has attracted traditional-music performers and aficionados from Portugal and abroad since the early 1990s.

Depending on the year, Holy Week occurs in March and/or April. Most of the festival action takes place outside Porto in the Minho (including the city of Braga, where the locals go all out with religious processions, a surrogate Christ dragging a cross, etc.).

Porto has a long history as a textile center, and May's Porto in Fashion week puts a new spin on an old tradition with runway shows that emphasize both new and established designers.

Other May events of interest to English-speaking tourists include the university's Queima das Fitas celebration (which includes a parade of students floats), "Floral Rugs" (carpets of flowers in the road for religious processions), and the "Fazer a Festa" or International Theatre Festival.

photoJune 24 is the Festival of São João, which a Guardian article calls "one of Europe's liveliest street festivals." Porto & North of Portugal Tourism writes: "The night of St. John's does not require any organizing or grand attractions. It begins prior to the day, with cascades, decorations on common patios and in the streets. On the night of the Saint, people go out into the street and celebrate, playing with the traditional little hammers."

Another June event is the Ritmos or Rhythms festival, which celebrates traditional music of ethnic groups around the world.

In July comes Encounters with the Baroque Style, a series of concerts based on a more European musical tradition.

After the baroque musicians have packed up their instruments, the Noites Ritual Rock festival heats up the already warm days of August. The week-long event is designed to showcase new bands.

From late September into early October, young pianists strut their stuff at the Porto International Music Competition.

Another October event is the Grand Night of Fado (also a tradition in Lisbon), which is dedicated to the traditional Portuguese Fado song genre.

The Porto Jazz Festival runs from the last weekend of October into early November, and it's followed by two other November events: Portugal Fashion, which dresses international "top models" in clothes by leading Portuguese designers, and the International University Students' Musical Groups.

Finally, December features the Traditional Artworks Market of Porto (a good opportunity to buy crafts and other local gifts) and all kinds of Christmas decorations and entertainment.

Next page: Hotels in Porto





Fireworks photo copyright © Porto & North of Portugal Tourism.

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