Saint John (São João) festivities in Porto

    Despite being one of the most celebrated popular saints throughout Europe, and take place all over the country, no city celebrates São João like Porto, in a popular demonstration that draws crowds to the streets, infecting each of the city’s neighborhoods and parishes, enthusing everyone who participates or discovers it first time at this party.

    Due to its unique and special characteristics, but also due to the increasing quality and diversity of its programming, the Festas de São João are today one of the city’s anchor events in Porto and an already inseparable brand of Porto, reinforcing its presence in the international tourist scene, namely, for this strong association with unique and differentiating events of the Porto destination.

    Although having as its peak the night of the 23rd to the 24th of June, the official program of the Festas de São João extends throughout the month of June, with a vast agenda that includes multiple entertainment initiatives, ranging from music to sports , passing through the traditional raids, fairs and dances.

    From the youngest to the oldest, everyone celebrates São João and there are many traditions associated with this day: from launching hot air balloons, hitting the heads of passers with Plastic hammers, passing leeks over the faces of the people, jumping over the bonfires, offering basil with traditional courts or watching the fireworks over the Douro River, where everyone gathers at midnight to enjoy the spectacle with the best view over the city.

    As tradition dictates, sardines are roasted in any corner of the city and everywhere there is music and dancing to liven up the night.

    The party only ends at dawn and the more resistant end the night by walking along the seafront, from Ribeira to Foz do Douro, where they wait for the sunrise.


    Originating in the 14th century, São João was initially a pagan festival, worshiping the God of the Sun, celebrating harvests and abundance. Later, similar to what happened with Shrovetide, the Church Christianized this pagan festival, celebrating the birth of St. John the Baptist on the 24th of June.

    But the festival of São João do Porto has its origins in the solstice of June. Part of the ritual of this pagan feast was the purchase of a leek, which was then hung on the main wall of the house to bring luck and fortune, remaining there until it was replaced by another the following year.

    On the night of June 23, groups of families left the neighborhoods on foot to Fontainhas to see the São João waterfall and bought not only the traditional leeks from the farmers on the way, but also other symbolic vegetables, such as potted basil. and branches of lemon balm and carnations.

    The festivities of São João in the city of Porto are already secular, but it was only in the 20th century that the 24th of June became a municipal holiday in Invicta, providing a deserved day of revelry for thousands of tripeiros.

    The first allusion to popular festivities dates back to the 14th century, by the hand of the famous chronicler of the kingdom, Fernão Lopes. In 1851, the newspapers reported the presence of around 25,000 people at the Sanjoanino festivities between the Clérigos and Rua de Santo António and, in 1910, an equestrian competition integrated into the festivities motivated the presence of Infante D. Afonso.

    ( Due to the Pandemic Covid19, there will be some restritions )

    @ Agora Porto

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