the strong Roman Catholic faith of the Portuguese people, it is
hardly surprising that most of the festivities in the Azores are
associated with religious holidays or Saint’s Days. A few of the
festivities are unique to one of the Azorean Islands, but most are
celebrated throughout the Islands with only minor differences in
techniques and forms.
The origination of many
of the festivities was as an act of gratitude to a patron saint
for deliverance from some danger. Even religious festivals are not
solemn occasions in the Azores; they include parades, food, dancing
and even a uniquely Azorean bullfight with ropes instead of swords.
Holy Ghost Festival
The most common festa
is the Holy Ghost Festival or Festa
do Divino Espirito Santo. This festival celebrates the third
person of the Godhead and is a day for some lucky poor person
to be named Empress or Emperor for a day. The royalty is crowned
and escorted through the streets to the local church where a Mass
is said. The celebrants then move to the local fellowship hall
where a special meal of ‘Holy Ghost Soup’ and sweet bread known
as Pao Doce is served. The feast is followed by dancing and general
merriment. These festivities are generally held seven weeks following
The largest religious
festival in the Azores is the “Festa
do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres”, (meaning the
Festival of the Christ of Miracles). This festival takes
place on the 5th Sunday after Easter, in the city of Ponta
Delgada. A statue of the Christ is
paraded through the city, and then returned to the convent at
Esperança. In addition to the religious aspects of the festivities,
there are street booths, a fair, and general merrymaking.
The Maré do Agosto Festival on Santa Maria, is one of the most famous
festivities in the Azores. Many cultural activities, among which are concerts,
take place on the small Praia Formosa. This festa is normally visited
by well-known names from the national and international music world, attracting
thousands of youngsters that during the days of August 23rd and August 26th,
vibrate with joy and vivacity.
The largest festival
in Santa Maria, with traditional and religious characteristics,
takes place at Vila do Porto on August 15th in honor of it's patron
saint, Our Lady of Assention.
The festivals of Saint
John is better known by the people of Terceiras as Sanjoaninas.This
group of festival days occurs between June 21 and June 30 and
is meant to honor the patron saint of the island of Terceira,
Saint John. The festivities are based in the city of Angra do
Heroisimo. Each day, triumphant marches, decorated cars, and
parades rich in folklore and ethnic emphasis portray the joy and
enthusiasm for living that is held by the people of the Azores.
Danças de Carnival are groups of people who perform in comedy
and dance routines at the thirty theatres on the island. Almost
the entire population of the island fills the seating.
The Cultural Week of
Velas is the most popular event on the island of Sao Jorge. This
celebration takes place during the first week of July annually.
Conferences and speeches from people who are well known in São Jorge
and in the Azores in general go on during the entire week. There
are concerts both by local artists and artists from the mainland.
There is a bullfight festival and the Horta – Velas – Horta Regata
which attracts dozens of boats.
In addition to these and other
festivities which may be specific to one or more various islands,
there are the usual religious and political holidays such as New
Years Day, Easter, Christmas Day, National Day of Portugal, and
On Pico the festivals of São Roque do Pico take place in the last week
of the month of June with musical concerts, cultural activities and exhibitions.
These festivities attract thousands from Portugal and
other parts of the world, during the last week of June. There
are many musical concerts, exhibitions and other cultural activities.
The week of the Sea
is held each year on Faial during August. Many sea-related
festivities take place, and thousands of visitors from the Portuguese
mainland arrive to take part in the musical and cultural activities.
During Sea Week musicians from other islands and from mainland Portugal
attend to participate in cultural events, pageants and other celebratory
performances of the ethnic background and history of the people.
With a duration of two days with the start on the first Sunday in
August, we have the Santa Cruz festival on Flores. During this festival
there are many arches with flowers, decorating the streets and creating
a marvellous atmosphere of colour and happiness. With the presence
of crowns from the 27 Holy Ghost shrines in the island, it is considered
the largest festival in the Azores in honor of the Holy Ghost.
The Folares Festival on Easter and the processions of Our Lord
of the Paces, on Good Friday, are done with great enthusiasm by
all parishes. It is joined with the Sanjoaninas Festival, in Santa
Cruz, that attracts many outsiders and immigrants from other islands,
but also form other parts of the world. The Lady of Flores Festival,
which takes place in the Matos Chapel, is the most participated
of all the island. Finally we have the Emigrant Festival in Lajes
das Flores, which takes place on the second weekend of June.
January New Year's day, 2nd April ( Good Friday ), 4th April ( Easter
Sunday ), 25th April ( Liberty Day ), 1st May ( Labor Day ), 24th
May ( Autonomy Day ), 10 June ( National Day of Portugal ), 3rd
June ( Corpus Christi ), 15th August (Feast of the Assumption ),
5th October Implantation of the Republic ), 1st November (All Saints
Day ), 1st December ( Restoration of Independence ), 8th December
( Feast of the Immaculate Conception ), 25th December ( Christmas
Day ). The following dates are optional holidays: Shrove Tuesday
( February or March ). In addition to these there are several local
Below a few of the festivals
that occur throughout the year in the Azores include:
Festa Sr dos Enfermos -- held
the first Sunday after Easter, this festival features a procession
across the azalea-covered streets of Furnas
Festa Sr Santa Cristo dos Milagres
-- held the fifth Sunday after Easter Sunday in Ponta Delgada.
Festa de S. Joao da Vila -- held
June 23 in Vila Franca.
Cavalhadas de S. Pedro -- held
June 28 in Riberia Grande.
Semana do Chicharro -- held the
middle of July in Ribeira Quente.
Sao Joaninas -- held during the third week of June, this festival
features a number of processions.
Tourada a Corda (running of the bulls) -- the tourada season
lasts from May 1 to September 30, and occurs on a daily basis
during the season.
Festas de Praia de Vitoria -- this festival is held during the
second week of August, with one of the highlights being a food
Angrajazz -- held during the first weekend of October, Angrajazz
is a jazz festival held in Angra do Heroismo.
Ramo Grande Festival -- held in late October and early November,
this festival features world music performances.
Espirito Santa -- held seven weeks after Easter
Cultural week -- held during the first week of July in Velas.
July Festival -- this music festival is held during the last
week of July in Calheta.
Santa -- held seven weeks after Easter
Cais de Agosto -- depending on the calendar, this music festival
is held the last weekend of July or the first weekend of August
in S. Roque.
Festa do Senhor Bom Jesus Milagroso -- held the first week of
August in Sao Mateus.
Semana dos Baleeiros -- this religious and music festival is
held the last week of August in Lajes.
Espirito Santa -- held seven weeks after Easter.
Festa de Santa Cristo -- held in early August, this event features
boat races, bullfights, and other events.
Festas de Santo Antonio -- held
the second week of June in Santo Espirito
Festas de S. Joao -- held June
23 in Vila do Porto
Festas N. Sra. da Assuncao -- held
August 15 in Vila do Porto.