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Why Lisbon in June is just special – 5 Things to do during Santos Populares

a group of people on a stage in front of a crowd

Every June, Lisbon comes alive with vibrant colors, lively music, and a contagious festive spirit during the Santos Populares (Popular Saints) festival. Santo António is the official saint of Lisbon and it’s after him that we name our holiday on June 13th.

The streets are adorned with colorful decorations, and the air is filled with the aroma of sardines being grilled. If you’re planning to visit Lisbon during this festive time, here are five things you must experience to immerse yourself in the Santos Populares spirit:


7 arraiais em Lisboa para celebrar os Santos Populares. Vai fazer "pisca pisca" em qual? - Atualidade - MAGG

Source: MAGG

Join and party the night away at the Arraiais

Lisbon’s neighborhoods come alive with street parties, known as arraiais, during the Santos Populares. Head to neighborhoods like Alfama, Bairro Alto, or Mouraria (and so many others), and follow the sounds of music and laughter. Eat and drink your heart out, dance to traditional Portuguese music, enjoy live performances, and witness the parades featuring locals dressed in colorful costumes. There are arraiais almost the entire month of June, just ask around to find out where the closest arraial is. If you can’t hear it, that is.

Conheça o alinhamento das Marchas Populares de Lisboa 2022

Source: Time Out Lisboa

Experience the Marchas Populares

Don’t miss the Marchas Populares, a highlight of the Santos Populares festival. These processions showcase the unique cultural heritage of each neighborhood through song, dance, and elaborate costumes. Each marcha tells its own story and competes for the title of the best performance. The residents of Lisbon’s neighbourhoods can be very competitive so watch out if you ever make fun of the tradition! Make sure to catch the main procession along Avenida da Liberdade and witness the joyous spectacle.

A sardinha no pão que promete ser uma LouQura nos Santos Populares


Enjoy grilled sardines and other delicacies

Indulge in the traditional gastronomic delights of the Santos Populares. Savor grilled sardines, the iconic dish of the festival (yes, sardines on bread is the way to go!), paired with a glass of refreshing vinho verde. Explore the food stalls and street vendors offering mouthwatering treats like bifanas (pork sandwiches), caldo verde (kale soup), and other traditional Portuguese pastries such as pastéis de nata.

Source: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

Witness the brides of Santo António

As São Pedro (Saint Peter) is the saint of weather, who guards the gates of heaven (and it’s to him we pray for good weather), it falls on Santo António to be the matchmaker Saint, of the Saint of weddings.

Born in Lisbon, in 1195, he is actually also known as Saint Anthony of Padua, the Italian city where he died in 1231. Recognized for teaching Theology at several European universities, he is the most popular of all the Portuguese Saints, and loved all around the world. He is remembered for this generosity and kindness towards the poor, that touched all around him; and that is also why he was canonized by the Catholic Church less than a year after his death. It is in Lisbon that Anthony of Padua is especially loved, being known as the matchmaker Saint of the city – it is said that he was an excellent conciliator of couples. The day of his death, June 13th, is considered a local holiday and one of the most important dates for the capital, where he is seen as a patron (even though, for the Catholic Church, the true patron Saint of Lisbon is Saint Vincent and, therefore, both are recognized as sanctities worthy of celebrations).
On the eve of Saint Anthony’s day, Lisbon is filled with love: it is the day of Saint Anthony’s Weddings or the day of Saint Anthony’s Brides, as many people call it. This makes marriage possible for couples who are in financial difficulties – and is always celebrated on June 12th, the day before the Holiday, in the Church of Santo António – however it was recently moved to the Lisbon cathedral, due to the amount of people attending.

Source: Museu de Lisboa – Santo António

Attend the Santo António procession

Every year on June 13th, at 5pm, there is a traditional procession to this universally beloved saint. It starts from the Saint Anthony church in Alfama, next to the Lisbon cathedral where Saint Anthony was born. It lasts around 2 hours through the Alfama neighbourhood. Besides the religious procession, the church of Saint Anthony celebrates special masses during this day.


In conclusion, the Santos Populares festival is a time when Lisbon bursts with joy, tradition, and a true sense of community. By joining the street parties, experiencing the Marchas Populares, savoring delicious traditional food, seeking blessings and just having a wonderful time, you’ll immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of this beloved festival. Embrace the lively atmosphere, make new friends, and create unforgettable memories during your visit to Lisbon during the Santos Populares.