The oldest Carnaval in Portugal? Well we had to go and find out what all the fuss was about!
The shops have been awash with carnival outfits and wigs – the Portuguese seem to adore their Carnaval weekend and Loulé Carnaval is advertised as the biggest and best on the Algarve. So, armed with cameras, some friends and a carnival mood – alongside the most amazing sunshine and hot weather on Saturday – we arrived at Loulé (and you need to arrive early as parking is almost impossible later on!)
The Carnaval itself starts at 3pm, and there was quite a queue for the tickets to enter the segregated roads – but 2 Euros for an adult ticket seemed great value.
The crowds soon gathered and it became very busy by the time everything started – the floats are all enormous and very professional – with hours and hours of work going into each one. They are pulled by tractors along the main street in a big circuit – it took over an hour for them all to pass us by – and apparently they go round three times!
The theme of the Carnaval this year was ‘Entroikados’ and it was a very political theme!
The free brochure is well worth picking up as it explained each float – in Portuguese and English – as it went past us.
Political messages and statements abound – this float below was typical of many:
The leaders of the ruling coalition – Pedro Passos Coelho and Paulo Portas sit together on top of the tank, whilst the Defense Minister, Aguiar Branco, attempts to protect the nation with a slingshot – a direct reference to the recent Defence spending cuts in Portugal.
Not all of the floats are political though – the Garden of Eden passed us by – although I did find Eve a rather scary looking creature! Perhaps that had something to do with the giant toadstool in her garden?!
It felt very safe and the floats passed by very close to us – and with all the streamers, music, dancing, and carnival atmosphere it was great fun – and very noisy!
The lovely thing about the Carnaval is that most of the children – and quite a few adults! – dress up and really enjoy themselves. This little girl was totally wrapped up in everything that was passing by, and collecting all the streamers and glitter that landed around us:
Every float and dance troupe had children enjoying themselves and dancing and many of their costumes were very elaborate affairs – these were walking with the Bombeiros float:
Politics continued through the afternoon as a theme – here you can see Troika being illustrated by the wealthy literally squeezing the money out of ‘Joe Doe’ – the poor man on the street:
My favourite figures were those of ‘The Puppet of Europe’ with the Finance Minister, Vitor Gaspar, pulling the strings of ‘Joe Doe’ surrounded by cowboys …
All overlooked by the beady eye of Angela Merkel:
The mixture of political satire, music, dancing and party streamers seems to sum up the mood of the Carnaval – the austerity measures are biting hard and severely affecting the average Portuguese worker – and yet still the people are able to come out and party – there’s even time for a quick Conga!
There are so many pictures we could have shared with you – so the rest are below in a slideshow for you to enjoy – just click on any of the images to start the show:
Hope that has put you in a carnival mood wherever you are!