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New Year’s Eve in Portugal

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 26, 2022

© Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com


If your family travels take you to Portugal as the new year dawns, you’ll find lively celebrations wherever you go. The best part is you and your family will be welcome to join the fun, as locals take to the streets for a big party.


In Lisbon, neighborhoods such as Belem and Alfama have their own celebrations, or you can join the crowds for live music and merriment in the city’s central plaza, Terreiro do Paco. This huge square is surrounded by elegant buildings, whose long porticoes provide shelter and a place for market stalls and food vendors. In the center, a giant Christmas tree sparkles with lights, with porticoes decorated in lights, as well.


The square is a good vantage point for Lisbon’s midnight fireworks. If you’re staying at one of the larger hotels with a rooftop terrace or restaurant, you can get a bird’s-eye view. There’s hardly a more romantic place for couples to welcome the new year than over a midnight glass of bubbly as the city celebrates below.


The skies over Porto, north of Lisbon, light up at midnight for Portugal’s biggest fireworks extravaganza, doubly spectacular reflected in the river. You might be lucky enough to find a spot on one of the river boats for even better views when the city lights up with fireworks.


Smaller cities offer a better experience for families with children, with live music, fireworks, street markets and a party atmosphere. Reserve a table for dinner and you’re likely to find the restaurant turn into a party. In the Algarve, you’ll find beach hotels offering New Year’s specials in this slow season. The biggest celebrations here are in Faro, Lagos, Tavira, and Albufeira, where light shows and a big fireworks display at Praia dos Pescadores includes live music.


For celebrations more low-key and intimate, your family can mix with local families in smaller towns in Alentejo, where winter tourists are rare. The walled city of Evora is a good choice, but even in smaller towns you’ll find a party atmosphere.


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