Like much of the world, Lisbon gets dressed up for the holiday season in December. It celebrates Christmas and the New Year with the traditional Christmas tree and lots of lights in its main squares and streets downtown, which are lit from the last week of November to the first week of January. This is where you can see it all:
Praça do Comércio
The big waterfront square is where you can find the large Christmas tree. It’s not a real tree, but an eco-friendlier tree-shaped structure which you can go inside and look up at the display of lights. It’s decorated with blinking lights, stars, balls and ribbons. The square’s arcaded buildings are also outlined with lights on the windows and arches.
The other big square downtown also has its own tree, but it’s smaller and usually more colorful than the one at Praça do Comércio. The square’s decorations change every year, but the pedestal of the monument at the center and the neoclassical façade of the National Theater D. Maria II are usually lit up.
Lisbon’s main pedestrian street is the most decorated street. It’s usually one big display of lights, in abstract shapes or in the form of bells, balls or stars. The parallel streets of Rua da Prata and Rua do Ouro are the two other streets downtown with the most decorations.
Rua do Carmo
The pedestrian street that rises up from Rossio to the district of Chiado is another where you can find the most decorations. They vary each year, but usually continue down Rua Nova do Almada.
It’s one of Lisbon’s favorite shopping streets, so you can be sure that it will be lit up in Christmas shopping spirit. It’s faced by the Armazéns do Chiado mall, whose façade usually features a Christmas tree and is inaugurated about one week before the official street decorations.
Praça Luís de Camões
Rua Garrett leads to the lively Praça Luís de Camões, by Bairro Alto. Its Christmas decorations usually include one large structure, which in the past has been one big ball which you can walk inside, a gigantic Santa Claus or another tree. In recent years there has also been a display spelling “LISBOA,” which many tourists find to be the perfect spot for photos.
Avenida da Liberdade
Lisbon’s grand boulevard and luxury shopping street keeps it simple every year. Its decorations are limited to white lights hanging from cables and the trees, but the overall effect is quite beautiful.
Praça Marquês de Pombal
The roundabout that separates the Old Town and the modern city is always surrounded by “Season’s Greetings,” “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” displays. These are often joined by gigantic balls and stars at the feet of the monument to the Marquis of Pombal, who is remembered here as the man responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon after the Great Earthquake of 1755.