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From the colorful jacaranda trees to its street parties, June is the most joyous month to visit and stay at one of our Lisbon luxury vacation villas.
The exuberant blue-mauve flowering of the jacaranda mimosifolia tells us that that summer is just around the corner; and when blossom starts to fall off, the ground around the trees resemble a carpet of bluebells.
Native to South America, this tree was most probably introduced to Portugal during the discoveries era, when explorers brought many exotic seeds back from their travels and planted them around the city as decorative plants. The roots of the jacaranda grow vertically not damaging the surrounding roads and pavements, and the trees can grow to a height of 15 metres. Enchanting all who see them, you can find them lining the streets of the city and more specifically at Parque Eduardo VII, in Largo do Carmo, at Príncipe Real, and along the Avenidas 5 de Outubro and D. Carlos I.
Walking about in the Lisbon city centre, take some time to sit down on a bench, and let yourself float between the jacaranda hues and the blue skies, before joining in with the locals for the Festas de Lisboa (the city’s month-long festivities)!
The Festas de Lisboa in June involves much eating, drinking and dancing in just about every corner of the city’s historic quarters, but most especially in Madragoa, Bica, Bairro Alto, Alfama, Mouraria, Castelo and Graça. The smaller neighbourhood parties are called an arraial and run all month long, but the main event is on the eve of Santo Antonio’s” day (protector of lovers and lost causes) on 12-13 June, when Lisbon bursts into an all-night street party.
Saint Anthony of Padua was born in Lisbon in the XII century and there is a small church dedicated to him, located next to the Sé Cathedral (Lisbon’s main cathedral). One of the main highlights of the month long celebrations, is the procession that starts from the church of his name, on the 13th June.
The streets of Lisbon also get decorated with paper balloons, tinsel and streamers and there are fireworks over the Tagus river; whilst the locals apply for short term licences to sell wine, caldo verde (cabbage and chouriço soup) and grilled sardines to revellers from their own doorsteps. And men give their sweethearts a mangerico, a freshly sprouted basil pot plant with a paper flower and a small flag with a popular and sometimes very corny love verse.
Eating sardines is the absolute must during the month of June in Lisbon. Not only they are at their optimum taste wise at this time of the year (fat and crispy when cooked over a charcoal brazier) the sardine is the star of these festivities. Legend says the custom started with Santo Antonio. During one of his expeditions, he was having trouble converting people, so he turned to the fish. The sardines listened to his sermon and he took it as a sign from God!
Other city celebrations consist of the Marchas Populares parade when each district of Lisbon competes to be the best-decorated or best-choreographed dance troupe, as they perform in front of judges down the Avenida da Liberdade. The acts include marching bands, dance troops, highly decorative props and an obligatory Portuguese celebrity somewhat resembling Brazil’s carnival celebrations, although the outfits are a great deal more modest! The whole of Lisbon tries to cram onto the 1km route, and it is a great family-friendly experience.
Also know as the Santos Populares (popular saints) the month long festivities include the feast of São João (Saint John) on the 24th June and the feast of São Pedro (Saint Peter) on the 29th June.
The month of June in Lisbon is indeed a joyous affair!