What is Loulé Carnival in Algarve?
The first Loulé Carnival, dating back to 1906, has been a testament to the festival’s history and its evolution into one of Portugal’s most significant cultural events.
It takes months of planning, showcasing a blend of traditional music, local gastronomy, and artisan crafts, all culminating in the meticulously decorated parade along the Avenida José da Costa Mealha.
Each year the Loulé Carnival revolves around a set theme, all the decorations and cars are decorated accordingly to the specific theme.
How are the cars decorated in Loulé Carnival?
Each car, adorned with hand-made paper flowers, represents a traditional art form unique to Loulé. These vibrant flowers, symbolizing the Algarve’s almond blossoms, require months of preparation, with community participation from schools, institutions, and nursing homes. They are then glued onto the cars individually.
Originally the Loulé Carnival was known as the “batalha das Flores” (Parade of Flowers). Loulé is the only Carnival where all the cars are still decorated with these hand made flowers.
These colourful flowers take months to make. Over 1 million flowers are made with the help of schools, institutions and also nursing homes are the main contributors to making these beautiful flowers.
You can view the video of back stage of Loulé Carnival. How everything is made and set up. Unfortunately the video is in Portuguese, but you get a very clear and great idea of all the hard work that goes into to make the Loulé Carnival the best Carnival in Portugal
These flowers also represent the Almond flower that blossoms in February & March. The Algarve is one of the largest producers of Almonds in Portugal. Try imagining the fields covered with Almond trees in bloosm.
The large figures on top of each car is sculptured and carved from blocks of styrofoam. They are then painted and decorated acordingly to represent the original animal, person or theme.
If you are looking for a fun and festive way to experience Portuguese culture, then the Loulé Carnival is the place for you.
Where is the Loulé Carnival ?
The Loulé Carnival is held on the main Avenue Jose Da Costa Mealha located in the centre of Loulé. The avenue is closed off and becomes an arena during these 3 days.
The map above shows you the following;
Ticket Booths identified with green dots with letters A-E.
Entry and Exit points are identified with dark blue colored dots.
Portable WC’s identified with the purple dot.
Drinks and snacks are identified with blue dots.
If you medical help or the police this is identified with a red & white dot on the map.
When is the Loulé Carnival?
The Loulé Carnival is a three day festival held annually on the weekend before Lent, which typically falls in February or begining of March, never any later.
The parade starts at 3pm until 6 pm on each of the three days.
Make sure you arrive before 3pm to find parking, buy your ticket and find a great spot to view the best Carnival in Portugal.
An interesting fact is the last day of Carnival ( Carnival Tuesday) is exactly 40 days before Easter Sunday.
When is the Loulé Carnival in 2024?
In 2024 the Loulé Carnival will be from the Sunday 11th February 2024 until Tuesday the 13th February 2024.
The childrens Carnival is on the 9th February commencing at 10am unit aproximately 12 noon.
What is the Childrens Carnival? School children from pre-school until year 4 will parade with their school their carnival constumes. Entry Fee is free to see the Childrens Carnival.
These costumes are hand made and usually using recylced items.
If you do have a chance to see this Carnival, we highly recommend it.
Is there an entry fee to see Loulé Carnival?
There is cost of 2 euros per adult, children under 12 years of age is free. This cost applies for each day you want to attend.
Proceeds go to instituitions in the Loulé Municipality. It is worth the 2 euros as you have a fun filled afternoon and you are also helping out for a good cause.
Where can I buy tickets to Loulé Carnival?
You can buy your entry at one of the 5 entrances to the Carnival in Loulé.
To locate the ticket booths on the map look for the letter A, B, C, D
The 2 main ticket booths are located at the Southern (A) and Northern Entrance (B) of the Avenue José da Costa Mealha.
There are also three side entrances on either side of the Avenue. You will find them approximately half way up the Avenue.
We recommend you arriving early to buy your tickets, you will find queues at each of the ticket booths.
Any other side roads leading onto the Avenue are closed off during the carnival parade.
Where to eat & drink during the carinval?
There are specific locations within the carnival arena where you can buy food and drinks.
from the map, you will see that they are highlighted with Blue dots and located on the side roads of the main avenue.
Look out for the traditional Loulé pastry exclusive to the city of Loulé with puff pastry filled with custard.
The traditional restaurants and cafés that open onto the avenue where the parade runs will be closed between 3pm – 6pm.
Away from the Carnival arena, you will find restaurants such as the Pescador, and Hamburgaria da Baixa. Cafes such as Fabrica da Amendoa, Amendoal, and Café Central will open all day.
What are the highlights of the Loulé Carnival?
- The Grand Parade: The Grand Parade is the main event of the carnival. It takes place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon, and it features thousands of people dressed in elaborate costumes. The parade winds its way through the Avenida José Costa Mealhada, and it’s a truly spectacular sight.
- The Children’s Parade: The Children’s Parade is a smaller parade on Friday morning that is specifically for children and schools. It’s a great opportunity for kids to get involved in the festivities.
- The Carnival Balls: The Carnival Balls are held at various venues throughout Loulé on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday night. They feature live music and dancing, and they’re a great way to let loose and have fun.
- The Food and Drink Stalls: There are many food and drink stalls set up throughout Loulé during the carnival. You can find everything from traditional Portuguese cuisine to international fare.
- The Street Entertainment: There is always a lot of street entertainment happening during the Loulé Carnival. You can see jugglers, samba dancers, groups parading, clowns, and more.
Tips for attending the Loulé Carnival
Here are some our tips for when attending the Loulé Carnival:
- Book your accommodation in advance: The Loulé Carnival is a popular event, so it’s important to book your accommodation in advance. There are a variety of hotels and guesthouses to choose from in Loulé.
- Wear comfortable shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking during the Loulé Carnival, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring sunscreen and a hat: The Algarve region of Portugal is known for its sunny weather, so it’s important to bring sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Be prepared for crowds: Being the largest Carnival in the Algarve and also Portugal it is a very popular event, so be prepared for crowds. If you’re traveling with children, keep a close eye on them at all times.
Looking for the day that has the least number of people attending? If so, I would strongly recommend avoid the Sunday & Tuesday. The best day in Monday at the Loulé Carnival. On Monday most people work and will work and not be able to attend the Loulé Carnival.
You will find it easier to park, not have to wait long in line to buy your ticket. Best of all you will be have a better view fo the parade.
- Have fun! The Carnival is a great opportunity to let loose and have fun. So relax, enjoy the festivities, and make some lasting memories.
Where to Park for Loulé Carnival?
There are four designated car parking areas close to the Parade. These are identified on the carpark map with the “letter P” These car parks are well signed posted by the organisers. These designated carparks are free of charge.
As you enter Loulé you will start to see the signs and directions to each car park.
It is advisable to arrive early, as car park spaces can fill up quickly.
You can also park in the residential areas. We strongly recommend you do not park in front of any garage as you may come back to to find your car has been towed.