June is Festival Season in Portugal. Some of the biggest festivals celebrate the three saints: Anthony, John, and Peter. The Feast of Saint Anthony takes place in Lisbon while the Festa de São João is in Porto, and St. Peter’s biggest celebration is in Evora. Add to it Arraial Pride and Rock in Rio in Lisbon, and June is a busy month for festivals.
In Setubal, about 45 minutes south of Lisbon, the three saints, Anthony, John, and Peter, are combined into one parade called the Popular Marches Competition. On a Saturday night in June, the main drag in Setubal, Av. Luisa Todi, is blocked from traffic for a colorful celebration.
Local clubs and social groups prepare all year for the Popular Marches Competition. They wear ostentatious costumes based on traditional Portuguese outfits that add colorful adornments and crazy, giant hats. The groups march, dance, and sing choreographed performances for enthusiastic crowds.
In 2022, the participants were Core of the Friends of the Santos Nicolau Neighborhood, Setubalense Sports Group “The 13”, Bridges Sports and Recreational Union, Independent Sports Group and Palhavã Recreational Club. In addition, The March of APPADCM – Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Disabled Citizen also particiapted.
If you decide to attend the event, know that it kicks off late, after 10pm and doesn’t end until well after midnight.