One of Portugal’s top international musical hits is a song called “April in Portugal,” originally sung by the great Fado diva Amalia Rodrigues but also performed by other big names like Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby. The first version is from 1947 and was called “Coimbra” as an homage to Portugal’s old university city, but came to have yet another name, “The Whisp’ring Serenade.”
In the mid-20th-century the month of April came to be associated with tourism in Portugal, which promoted it as a great time to be in the country, with the temperatures rising and the flowers in bloom. This time of the year remains a great time to fly to Lisbon, especially in 2013. Here is what you’ll be able to experience this month:
THE NEW JULIO POMAR MUSEUM
On April 5th, the new Julio Pomar Museum opens its doors. Julio Pomar is one of Portugal’s top contemporary artists, currently living between Lisbon and Paris but this will be the permanent home of dozens of his works. It’s an old building by Bairro Alto (Rua do Vale, 7) which has been refurbished by local Pritzker Prize architect Siza Vieira, and the first exhibition will be on display until September with free admission.
Lisbon’s biggest gastronomic festival is “Peixe em Lisboa,” the “Fish and Flavours” festival which this year happens from the 4th to the 14th in a courtyard of Comercio Square. Portuguese and international chefs will show off their art in preparing fish and you can try them and learn how to prepare them yourself.
THE 10TH INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
The “IndieLisboa” festival is back, from April 18 to the 28th. In its 10th edition it will once again screen independent films from all over the world, and will close with the local premiere of “Before Midnight” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply (it had its world premiere at Sundance and will be in theaters worldwide in late May).
BELEM ART FEST
On the 5th and 6th, four museums in the Belem district will host special events, from concerts to film screenings. The Coaches Museum, the Archaeology Museum, the Berardo Museum and the Museum of the Presidency will also provide access to their permanent collections through one single ticket valid for all spaces.
The São Luiz Theater will host a special jazz fest on the 6th and 7th featuring national musicians in concerts and workshops. The events start at 4PM on both days, lasting until well past 1AM.
The Belem district will host yet another festival later in the month, the “Dias da Música” in Belem Cultural Center. The annual event takes place on the 19th, 20th and 21st, with over 60 concerts, debates and a special market. This year it will focus on the music of the late 1700s and early 1800s, with classics by Beethoven and Chopin.
RIVER SIGHTSEEING CRUISE
The river sightseeing cruises are back for another season. Available from April to October, it takes you on a two-hour tour of the city’s ancient and modern landmarks, from the old center to the Parque das Nações district and the Age of Discovery monuments of Belém.
When in Lisbon, go to Sintra. Now that the colder and rainier season is coming to an end and that the bigger summer crowds haven’t yet arrived, it’s the best time to see Portugal’s romantic fairytale town. It’s also at its most verdant and colorful, and a palace you should make an effort to visit at this time of the year is the Monserrate Palace, recently renovated but still overlooked by those who only give themselves enough time to see the famous Pena Palace. After you visit the interior, be sure to relax at the beautiful gardens.