Carnival is huge in the Algarve and some say the little town of Loulé even introduced Carnival to Rio de Janeira via the Portuguese immigrants who arrived on those South American shores. It’s a colourful, noisy, fun event which brings everyone together in one big party. Visiting Carnival in the Algarve, particularly in Loulé is a wonderful experience and definitely recommended if you’re in the area in the run up to Lent.
There are lots of towns across the Algarve who put on a carnival including, often, Albufeira, Quarteira, Lagos, Portimão, Altura, São Brás de Alportel, Alte and Sagres. All across the region people are celebrating and one of the best places is Loulé which is the oldest carnival in Portugal.
Loulé celebrates with three days of festivities which includes processions, amazingly decorated floats (many with political messages), dancing, music, flamboyant costumes and lots of fun.
We were really pleased that on our winter trip to the Algarve we had the opportunity to visit the carnival in Loulé on its third and final afternoon of the 2018 carnival and the whole town was absolutely rocking, smiling and dancing its way around.
It’s a wonderful experience if you are in the Algarve and visiting around the middle of February it’s well worth seeking out the ‘carnaval’ which brings local people and tourists together for some truly authentic Portuguese fun with wild and wonderful costumes and crazy floats.
Top Tips for visiting Carnival in the Algarve – Loulé Carnival:
- Arrive early. It’s good to park up about an hour before it all kicks off (usually at 3pm). There are lots of on street, free, parking if you get there in good time.
- It costs a small amount (€2 when we visited in 2018) to get in.
- You can buy confetti and paper streamers inexpensively from some of the small shops lining the main street (José da Costa Mealha Avenue)in Loulé where the procession takes place.
- It can get very busy so hold on to hands of any children you’re visiting with if you start moving around through the crowds – we found it easier to find our spot to watch from and stay there.