From its green north, all the way to the sunny south of Portugal there are plenty of festivals happening every summer. It's difficult to decide which one to attend among those big mainstream spectacles like NOS Alive, alternative ones like Primavera Sound or special ones, like Andanças - the dance festival. Besides those very well known, there are plenty of smaller but still amazing thematic festivals. One of them is Medieval Journey happening in Santa Maria da Feira city near Porto.
This colorful festival happens annually since 1996, and it's one of the largest medieval recreations in Europe. The entire city of Santa Maria da Feira, in the space of about 33 hectares, is transformed to recreate a real environment of the middle ages, during 12 days. Certainly, with its 11th century fairytale-like castle on the top of a hill, Santa Maria da Feira is a perfect setting for this spectacle. Besides different medieval activities like chivalry, dances, and archery, you can even time travel gastronomically: having medieval snacks and drinks like wine, sweet bread, rabbit or lamb stew or cabbage soup. Unique handicrafts and clothes can be found in a souk as well.
Although the concept of the festival Medieval Journey in Santa Maria da Feira has been the same since the beginning, every year the festival changes its theme but also each time it gets better, which makes me attend it whenever I can. Although I did not get rich, as one fortuneteller read from my palm when I first went there ten years ago, I still give it a fair chance.
Wherever you go during the days of the festival, you will be encountering medieval pimps, beggars, washerwomen, sellers, and other authentic characters, but also acrobats, jugglers, musicians roaming around and animating the town. In the night there's fire, dance, and sounds of the tambours.
Every year the festival has a different historical topic, and this year it was Portuguese king Fernando "the beautiful," and his queen Leonor. In the last ten years, this event was awarded numerous international and national prizes, including for the best cultural event of the year.
This year, the festival counted with more than 1700 performances that were happening at six squares and 22 other locations with thematic and interactive expositions. It involved around 400 volunteers and 700.000 visitors who arrived in Santa Maria da Feira in search of time traveling to a real medieval adventure.
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