It is an event that gathers hundreds of thousands of people every year, in Parque Eduardo VII, by the Marquês de Pombal square in Lisboa. Feira do Livro de Lisboa presents visitors with an open air sale with hundreds of book editors and a rich programme of events that range from talks with authors, book presentations to live concerts, radio and tv shows. All in the beautiful setting of the park, by the shade of trees or under the warming sun of May and June! I went there the other day with some friends, and took some notes so you too can have an idea of its atmopshere!
We arrive at around 15 o'clock, and it is a clear and warm day, so there are many people outside. In Marquês de Pombal square we could already see the crowds of people around the Feira do Livro entrance. Here, in the lower area, there are some stands of the fair partners, a few tents for special events and some vans selling ice-cream and natural drinks. The park's main lawn, is sided by wide pathways where the book editor's stands are placed, forming large corridors. They are full of visitors walking up and down, looking left and right as they go. The fair extends halfway up the park, and strolling about you can really appreciate the variety of areas, sights and books.
Each editor has one or two stands reading its name. Larger editors have a bigger area, with more stands and enough room for presentations, talks, and concerts. Each stand displays their books in a row turned to the public and in shelves behind the sellers. There are also those where you can walk up to see the titles up close. On the sides, there is usually a plate with the second-hand, discount or special priced books. For those looking for a bargain, many editors offer special prices and deals just for this occasion. On top of that, there is also the fair's 'Hora H' (the H hour) during which there are books with a minimum of 50% price discount, usually around closing time.
Among the various editors, you will find literature classics, poetry, comics, best-sellers, independent publications and zines, children books, mangas, essays, technical books, natural sciences, social studies, books on law, art, religion, cultural institutions' publications, alfarrabistas' stands and there is also a tent dedicated to small editors. There really is everything! The different styles of book design and printing are very evident too, each stand showing different graphic treatments and palettes on their titles.
There are several areas of shade, under the park trees or the awnings placed about, under which sit boxes with discount books or the arranged chairs for an upcoming event. In a warm day like this, the shade is very welcome. Some people leave the fair to take a break and relax by the park's hills and trees. Inside the fair, you will find a subtle system of nozzles spraying water to refresh the visitors. Trails connect the two pathways of the park, crossing the grass. Many people are enjoying the sun, taking a rest, laying on the grass, kids are playing football or running around the labirinthic bushes. Children have plenty of fun in Feira do Livro, if not for the wide park then for its usual giant toys, a giant chessboard, a giant book, that always gather a small crowd.
Scattered a little bit everywhere are the restauration and snack stands. There are pastries, juices, candy, hotdogs, toasts, drinks. There are also some people selling prints, paperwights and other book-related stuff. In the top area of the fair sits the last connection between the two pathways. It is a big brigde-like platform with more restauration and lovely esplanades, offering a great vista of the whole fair and the park, with Marquês de Pombal in the distance.
Many people, of all ages, walk with bags filled with books on their hand. They gather around each stand, looking and flicking through the last one to catch their attention. Feira do Livro de Lisboa is perfect for avid collectors and book lovers, for a simple family day out or a picnic with friends, hanging out in the greens of Parque Eduardo VII, enjoying the warm sunny days! If you are around, don't miss it!
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