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Friday Briefing: Sympathy for the Devil

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. Today, we’re covering Carnival, that time of the year when non-politicians also play devil.

© Casa do Careto


The Right coalition staged a surprise victory in the Azorean regional elections, but fell 3 seats short of an absolute majority. So, they’ll rule but probably not for long (More).

General elections’ candidates clashed in TV debates over the economy, the NHS, taxes and housing. The main PS-AD debate will take place at 20:30 on Feb 19 on RTP, SIC and TVI (More).


Victims lost over 5 million euros to the ‘Hi Mum, Hi Dad’ scam in Portugal in 2023. Police urged citizens to remain watchful as 126 complaints were lodged in the first 15 days of 2024 (More).

Lisboa Para Pessoas is a new newspaper on mobility, citizenship, sustainability and housing in the Lisbon Metro Area. It’s on paper but director Mario Rui André defended its green credentials saying it isn’t a newspaper to throw away (More).


House prices rose 10% in third quarter of 2023, reaching a median price of €1,641/m2. In Madeira, house prices jumped a whooping 43% year-on-year, more than four times the national average (More).

The unemployment rate increased to 6.6% in the fourth quarter of 2023 and to 6.5% in 2023, slightly higher than in the previous year. However, this was still the second lowest annual unemployment rate since 2011 (More).


One of Rio’s oldest samba schools, Unidos da Tijuca, has chosen Portugal’s legends and myths as its theme for the Carnival 2024 Parade. The lead song O Conto de Fado speaks to the cultural ties between Portugal and Brazil (More).

Young Fado singer Teresinha Landeiro revealed Maré de Sorte, a new single from her upcoming album. She will present the album in Aveiro on March 9, in Lisbon on March 26, in Fafe on April 20 and Palmela on November 3 (More).



Outside may be cold and rainy but the Portuguese sure aren’t going to lose a good Carnival party. This year, though storm Karlotta has cancelled several parades on Friday, there are plenty of opportunities to let your inner devil roam wild. Here are some of the best:

Carnival of Podence

Podence, a town of around 200 people, hosts a 3-day party that is classified as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. During these days, “devilish” figures wearing brass or wooden masks and dressed up in costumes made of dyed wool and cowbells in their belts, known as the Caretos, roam the streets of the village doing mischievous deeds. February 10-13.

Carnival of Funchal

Elaborate floats, colourful costumes, and lively music wake up Funchal on Friday morning, the kick-off for 5 days and nights of concerts and shows. On Carnival day itself, Funchal explodes with revellers from all over the world parade in front of the crowd who are in turn infected by this atmosphere. February 7-18.

Carnival of Ovar

Ovar's Carnival is one of the largest and most popular in Portugal that culminates with a parade at 2.30pm on February 13. Its floats, costumes, and performances often feature humorous and satirical elements, providing a platform for locals to express their opinions on politics and social issues.

Carnival of Loulé

Boasting a slightly better winter climate, Loulé’s Carnival is one of the oldest in the country. This year, under the theme “Discovering the SDGs”, the Carnival aims to play with serious and current issues in an educational way. The main parade, lasting between February 11-13, will have a total of 14 floats and around 600 extras.

Carnival of Torres Vedras

Only 40km away from Lisbon, this Carnival is kown for the Matrafonas – men dressed in drag - and the Cabeçudos - people dressed in costumes with giant heads, which satirize famous people. The celebrations date back to the 19th century and mix thousand-year-old satirical traditions with Christian costumes to put on the best show possible. February 9-14.


In collaboration with Unique Portugal


Eduardo Gageiro at Cordoaria Nacional

Eduardo Gageiro, Raul Solnado, Lisbon, 1966

Eduardo Gageiro worked for newspapers, was arrested by the PIDE, stood alongside Salgueiro Maia during the revolution, and followed Portuguese Presidents around the world. Until May 5, Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional in Belém celebrates his work as one of Portugal’s greatest photojournalists. The exhibition, Factum, features 170 images from the 1950s to 2023. Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00. Free entrance.

Chinese New Year 2024

From Friday onwards, Lisbon will come alive with oriental parades and shows to welcome the Year of the Dragon. The festivities begin today, at 3pm, with a Lion and Dragon Dance in the Town Hall Square. Several restaurants, including JNcQUOI Asia, Boa Bao, and SOI - Asian Street Food, will have menus to celebrate the date. The Estoril Casino will feature special shows and a campaign for club members. Oriente Museum will also be hosting a range of activities (here).


Almond Blossom Train Ride in the Douro

The Almond Blossom Route - CP’s oldest - is back. The journey will take place every Saturday and Sunday between 17 February and 3 March, leaving Porto’s São Bento station at 7.20am and are arriving in Pocinho at 10.45am. The return journey starts at 5.14pm and is scheduled to arrive at 8.30pm. The itinerary also includes a guided tour of the Côa Museum, a free lunch, walks through the almond blossom and through the historic centre of Foz Côa. Tickets are available online and cost €49 for adults and €25 for children, with discounts available for groups.


BAAN by Leonor Teles

The first feature film by Leonor Teles, winner of a Golden Bear with Batrachian’s Ballad (2016), will be shown in cinemas across the country (see the list here), in some cases with subtitles in Portuguese and English. BAAN, set in Lisbon and Bangkok, follows a young woman named L. (Carolina Miragaia) on her emotional journey, as she meets, falls for, and recovers from an encounter with the elusive K. (Meghna Lall).


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