Get to know the Portuguese popular culture and its revelry as a local, and
discover the most genuine Carnivals in the various regions of Portugal with
Carnival, also known as Entrudo, is a party of pagan origin that is celebrated annually on a Tuesday, 47 days before Easter Sunday.
In the North of Portugal, a region with countless legends and traditions, we can find several types of popular celebrations of the Entrudo, namely in the region of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, being included in the Winter Fest program. Check here the agenda of festivities of the Rota da Terra Fria Transmontana in 2020.
The Chocalheiro Entrudo - The Caretos
The Caretos festival is part of a millenary tradition that is celebrated in Portugal, part of the Winter Festivities, having in Entrudo (Carnival) its closing. In Trás-os-Montes, this festival is celebrated in several villages in the municipalities of Vinhais, Bragança, Macedo de Cavaleiros (especially Podence) and Vimioso, as well as in the Alto Douro in Lazarim, in the municipality of Lamego.
The entrudo Chocalheiro is the height of the manifestations of irreverence that, at this time of the year, are not only allowed, but are also an attraction by itself. It is on this day that the masked figures of Death, the Devil and Censorship take to the streets, committing the most diverse mischief. This is a time of celebration, announced by the sound of the bagpipes of rounds, parades, loas and community meals.
The masked people's festivities are rites of the deepest symbolism that have resisted the passage of time and are kept very alive, in the culture of the people of the Nordeste Transmontano region.
The Caretos de Podence - A carnival written in red and black
The Podence masks were declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2019, and they are originally from the village that gives them their name, in the municipality of Macedo de Cavaleiros , in Trás-os-Montes, less than two hours away from the city of Porto.
Part of the winter festivities, so characteristic in this region of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, the Caretos de Podence represent diabolical and mysterious images that every year, since ancient times, go out on the street in carnival festivities.
From rattles to the waist and stick in hand, the faces have the devil on their bodies. They run, jump, dance, chase unmarried girls, and tease visitors. They are magical beings, who live in exuberant masks and costumes, invading the streets of their village to purge it of evil, purifying it.
This Carnival recycles traditions and fills the village of Podence with pride.
The parties of Domingo Gordo and Carnival in Podence are the responsibility of the Caretos.
This tradition is thought to have Celtic roots, from a pre-Roman period. It is probably related to the existence of the Galician (Gallaeci) and Brácaros (Bracari) peoples in Galicia and northern Portugal.
The origin of the masked men is linked to the cult of ancestors, considered privileged powers, watching over the fertility of the fields, the fertility of men and animals.
The tradition was at risk of being lost in the 60s, but it has gained new breath in the last 20 years, becoming an iconic tradition in the North of Portugal and that you cannot miss.
Lazarim, the Horned Shrovetide
If in Podence men wear a mask with a protruding nose made of leather, brass or wood painted in bright colors of yellow, red or black, in Lazarim the mask is made of alder wood and decorated with horns and other paraphernalia.
A Thousand Devils on the loose in Vinhais
In Vinhais, a rough and mountainous land and just two hours away from the city of Porto, over a thousand devils accompany a giant representation of Death, through the streets of the village, in a procession that ends in Pedra, where imprisoned girls are punished and a sound, light and fire show reveals the face of Death.
It is a secular and unique tradition in Portugal, whose origins remain unknown. However, different interpretations situate it in the celebrations of the Roman Lupercais, in the processions of Ash Wednesday, or under the influence of the Franciscans of the Convent of São Francisco de Vinhais, during the XVIII and XIX centuries.
Perfectly rooted in Vinhais' traditions, each year revived with all the genuineness of this mountain people, Ash Wednesday proves that Vinhais is really "land of the Devils".
The Thousand Devils on the loose is an extension of the original party held on Ash Wednesday, where the parades and spectacularity of the parade stand out with more than a thousand people wearing the incarnate costume of the devil.
Carnival with the people's brand - Vila Nova de Famalicão
In Vila Nova de Famalicão, a typically Minho city less than 30 minutes from Porto, home to the home of one of the most beloved Portuguese writers, Camilo Castelo Branco - who so well described the Minho life and society of the 19th century - the Carnival Corso is idealized and lived spontaneously by its population.
Here, we can find Portuguese culture in its most popular form, assumed by its people to parade in masks as their soul tells them. See the party program in Vila Nova de Famalicão here.
Practical info for your reservation
We will provide you a comfortable vehicle, a Mercedes V250 7-seater, with Wi-fi, air conditioning, cold water, universal charger, and a driver who will be your personal assistant throughout your UNIQ experience.
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