April in Portugal

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:

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal

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 “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).

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.

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.

10 Things to Do in Lisbon in the Summer of 2013

Joana Vasconcelos at Ajuda Palace, Lisbon

The most visited exhibition of the Palace of Versailles comes to Lisbon. The Ajuda Palace will show the works by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos that were seen in France (including the famous shoes made of pans) and will add a few new pieces. You can see them from March 23rd to August 25th.

Lisbon waterfront

After several delays, Lisbon’s renovated waterfront next to Comercio Square is promised to be ready by the summer. Known as “Ribeira das Naus” (“Ships Riverfront”), this was where Lisbon’s explorers had their ships made. It will now be a public space to relax, to sit in the sun and enjoy the scenery.

The main event is on the night of June 12 and on June 13th, but the “Festas de Lisboa” (“Lisbon Feasts”) really happen throughout the summer. You’ll find several outdoor events throughout the city from June to September, from free jazz concerts to street performances, especially downtown and in the squares of Chiado.

Lisbon’s summers are always big on music festivals and 2013 will be no exception. While this year there is no Rock in Rio-Lisboa, there will be the Optimus Alive festival with names like Green Day, Depeche Mode, Kings of Leon, and Editors, and the Super Bock Super Rock festival with Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Queens of the Stone Age, among others. Best of all is that these festivals take place by the coast, allowing you to get some beach days in between. Among other concerts happening in the city this summer are those of Bon Jovi and Alicia Keys.

One of Lisbon’s best-but-overlooked museums is the Chiado Museum, the national museum of contemporary art. It’s a great place to discover the art of Portugal’s best contemporary artists and it just unveiled its new permanent collection. You’ll see works from between 1850 to 1975 and the names to look for are Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Almada Negreiros and Paula Rego.

Myriad Hotel, Lisbon

2013 has so far been huge on new hotel openings. This is the result of Lisbon being one of the rising stars of European travel and because it’s no longer just a seasonal low-cost destination, there are increasingly more upscale (yet still affordable) hotels. Recently-opened or about to be (and all centrally-located), there are new boutique and design hotels you’ll want to be among the first to experience. Check out the new Lisboa Carmo Hotel, Mercy Hotel, Myriad Hotel, Teatro Hotel, Beautique Hotel Figueira, Epic Sana Hotel and Memmo Alfama. Alternatively, you may choose one of the many new or renovated centrally-located apartments.

Lisbon is currently going through a gastronomic revolution that will keep on growing. The New York Times called it the city’s “Culinary Golden Age,” with creative young chefs investing in new restaurant projects since 2010. This year is no different, with new star-chef restaurants opening in the center of the city. The new Honra by Olivier serves traditional Portuguese cuisine with a personal twist on Figueira Square, Michelin-star chef Jose Avillez is adding a pizzeria to Chiado which gives him a trio of restaurants in the neighborhood, and other spots are reinventing themselves with new menus like the beautiful Tacho à Mesa by Faz Gostos.

Comercio Square is one of Europe’s largest public squares, and the second biggest royal square after St. Petersburg’s Palace Square. The statue of king José I placed at the center in 1779 is currently being restored and will be unveiled like new in August. Also being cleaned up is the same square is the triumphal arch which should be completed by then as well.
In the meantime you may always enjoy the terraces of the new cafes and restaurants placed under the arches of the eastern and western wings.

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon

Lisbon’s Avenida da Liberdade has become a true luxury shopping destination, reinforced by new shops of international brands like Miu Miu and Officine Panerai, and a renewed Emporio Armani. Joining them this summer is a major new Cartier store and the less-luxurious-but-very-popular Guess.

Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra

Also given a new life is the 1300-year-old Moorish Castle in Sintra. Thanks to ticket sales from a growing number of tourists to the region, this ancient landmark has now added new facilities to accommodate visitors and restored parts of the monument in the process. While the fairytale Pena Palace nearby gets all the attention, the Moorish Castle should also be part of your itinerary in 2013 and beyond.

What and Who Is Coming to Lisbon in 2013

Lisbon Concerts - Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Bon Jovi

If you’re coming to Lisbon in 2013, you may want to make your visit coincide with some of the city’s main events and concerts. To help you mark your calendar, here’s what you can expect to find (more events and shows will be announced throughout the year):

The major concert season starts in March and lasts through the summer. The first will be teen pop sensation Justin Bieber on March 11th (Tickets: Justin Bieber concert tickets), while the other big names will come later in May. On the 5th of that month will be The XX, while on the 26th will be boy band One Direction (tickets: One Direction concert tickets), Rihanna on the 28th (Tickets: Rihanna concert tickets), and Iron Maiden on the following day (tickets: Iron Maiden concert tickets).
In June comes Bon Jovi (on the 26th – tickets: Bon Jovi concert tickets) and Alicia Keys (on the 28th – tickets: Alicia Keys concert tickets). The biggest summer festival arrives in July, from the 12th to the 14th. It’s the Optimus Alive series of concerts which this year will include Green Day, Depeche Mode and Kings of Leon (Tickets: July 12, July 13, July 14).

As for the city’s main annual events, the gastronomic festival “Peixe em Lisboa” dedicated to the best talents and their creativity in fish happens in April, from the 4th to the 14th. That’s followed by IndieLisboa, a very popular international independent film festival (April 18 to 28).
The top sports event of the year is also in April (the 27th until May 5th), the Estoril Open, for fans of tennis.
In late May (the 29th, until June 2nd) comes Arte Lisboa, the contemporary art fair that reunites galleries, artists and collectors.

After the summer it’s time for Queer Lisboa, the 17th annual edition of the international gay and lesbian film festival (September 20-28th). Another festival happens in October, from the 27th to November 3rd, the international documentary film festival DocLisboa.

But the biggest events in 2013 take place in the later part of the year. The Architecture Triennial presents a number of exhibitions all over the city from September 12 to December 15. During that time (from November 7 to December 31st), you’ll also find the Experimenta Design biennial, a major event in several venues with design-related exhibitions, workshops and conferences.

Finally, in December, Lisbon’s famous Bairro Alto neighborhood turns 500 years old so if this is the main partying area of the city on any regular weekend, you can only imagine what will be planned for this major milestone…

Christmas 2012 in Lisbon

Christmas in Obidos


The Tree on Comercio Square
The Christmas lights are already up on the main streets of Baixa and Chiado, and the tree will be lit up in Comercio Square throughout the month of December. This year it will be 28 meters tall (over 90 feet) and will be a “high-tech” tree with real-time video projections of passers-by. It can be seen until January 6.

“Confeitaria Nacional”
Just a short walk from Comercio Square, through Rua Augusta, you’ll reach Figueira Square where you’ll likely find people lined up outside Confeitaria Nacional throughout the month. That pastry shop sells the city’s most famous Christmas cake, “Bolo Rei.” You don’t necessarily have to go for that — you can simply enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea and observe the festive ambience.

Free Christmas Concerts
December is the month of free Christmas concerts in several of Lisbon’s churches, and this year they’re taking place from the 7th to the 22nd. The first one (on the 7th) is at 9:30 PM in São Roque Church, then there’s one at 4PM at Marcês Church on the 8th, also at 4PM in São Nicolau Church on the 9th, at 9:30PM in Estrela Basilica on the 14th, at 4PM in Graça Church on the 16th, throughout the day at the São Jorge Cinema on the 21st, and at 4PM in São Domingos Church on the 22nd.

The Christmas Village
Many travelers to Lisbon also choose to visit medieval Obidos and in December there’s a big reason for that. It turns into a “Christmas Village” with snowmen, ice skating, Santa Claus and family activities. It’s happening from December 7 to January 2nd.

Three museums in Lisbon will be hosting the festival Belem Art Fest in September

 Belém Art FestThe National Museum of Archaeology, the National Coach Museum and the Museum of Folk Art will be the stage of the first edition of the Belém Art Fest festival, with concerts, exhibitions, workshops and theater, scheduled for September 22.

The concept is simple: with a single ticket, each participant can visit three museums and see part of their collections, participate in workshops, attend concerts or see a play.

Each museum will stage a different musical genre: In the National Coach Museum there will be a presentation of “three different approaches to the urban song – FADO,” with Pedro Moutinho, Maria Ana Bobone and Teresa Lopes Alves.

In the National Museum of Archaeology, the voices, melodies and rhythms of Elisa Rodriguez and Julio Resende, The Soaked Lamb and Selma Uamusse take guests on a retro journey within the Jazz and Blues genres.

At the Museum of Folk Art, the party starts with energy and good vibes with the Portuguese bands Nice Weather for Ducks, The Doups and Youthless and ending with a DJ set at 04.00.

Belem Art Fest aims to publicise different values of the Portuguese culture, combining tradition and modernity, history and innovation. Participants can visit part of the Museum’s collections, learn how to create urban handicraft with Bolo de Pano Lisboa, hear tips from L’Oréal makeup experts, enjoy an art exhibition from Pedro Madeira Pinto or watch the play “Made in China” from Grupo de Teatro da Nova. Visitors will also be surprised by an exhibition and fashion show from Lisbon Fashion School – EML.

The Belem Art Fest also has a message of sustainability. It encourages participants to travel on foot between the museums and to use the train as transport to the festival. To this end, a 1€ round-trip ticket will be available for holders of the festival pass.

More information: http://www.belem-art-fest.pt