Feast of St Anthony: a Festival of Sardines in Lisbon

Come and celebrate Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Lisbon and of marriages.

The narrow cobbled streets of the historic neighbourhoods – Alfama, Castelo, Bica, Bairro Alto, and Madragoa – fill with music, dance, grilled sardines, wine and beer, and free fun for everyone.

The arraiais, as they are locally known, are the biggest and best street parties you’ll find in Lisbon.

There’s also a colourful parade along Avenida da Liberdade. Use the map below to locate the best places to experience the Feast of St Anthony in Lisbon.

Afternoon of 12 June

Potted basil plants with paper carnations carrying love messages

Everywhere, the smell of grilled sardine and basil is intense. Traditionally, men offer a potted basil plant to their loved ones on St Anthony’s day. With the basil plant comes a paper carnation carrying a love message.

Street food stalls appear on every corner. Stages have been set in the small squares of Lisbon’s oldest quarters, and paper garlands that hang between buildings create a Carnival-style atmosphere. Lisbon is ready for its most important annual festivity, the Feast of St Anthony.

Night of 12 June

Alfama during the Feast of St Anthony (early evening)

From 9pm, Avenida da Liberdade fills with dancers and music. The parade is a competition between Lisbon’s traditional neighbourhoods that during a whole year have prepared their unique choreographies.

At the same time, partygoers will be arriving at Lisbon’s historic neighbourhoods, ready to dance and eat grilled sardines and caldo verde (Portuguese cabbage soup), paired with wine, sangria and beer. Jumping bonfires is also part of the tradition. The festivities will last until the sun rises. The following day will be a public holiday in Lisbon.

Alfama and Castelo are the most popular neighbourhoods for Lisbon’s festivities. With narrow cobbled streets, small squares and a tavern on every corner, this area offers the perfect conditions for the arraiais. The Bica neighbourhood, with Bairro Alto and Madragoa nearby, are also popular party areas.

Bear in mind that the Feast of St Anthony can be a bit of a chaotic experience, as narrow streets and squares get packed with partygoers on the night of 12 June. Walking, let alone dancing, can become incredibly difficult. Come prepared to wait in a long queue for the overpriced sardines and wine. Still, it’s a fun night, but if you want to be fully prepared check out our tips on How to Survive Lisbon’s Feast of St Anthony.

When: 12 June
Where: Avenida da Liberdade (parade); Alfama, Castelo, Bica, Bairro Alto & Madragoa (street parties)