Guide to the Christmas Season: Christmas Markets and Events in Portugal 2023

Written By Zé Eduardo Penedo

As the year draws to a close, Portugal takes on a new shine. Known as the warmest winter spot in Europe, it’s no wonder: you can always count on pleasant winter sunshine, mild weather, and light winds from December to February. It’s not out of the question to stroll along the beach during the Christmas season or spend the afternoon on a beautiful terrace.

But the whole country comes alive with Christmas entertainment, starting with the lights that bring joy and color to urban centers – and beyond. You hear Christmas carols, you see the delights of the season filling the shop windows, from Bolo Rei to Filhoses and Rabanadas; it’s magical to experience Christmas in Portugal.

At the heart of this magic are the Christmas markets and fairs, which animate localities from the north to the south of the country. From confectionery to local products, handicrafts, and Christmas souvenirs, you can find everything at these events, which usually feature Santa Claus, often elves, and other entertainment dedicated to the theme, providing unforgettable moments for the whole family.

The markets have a different, very Portuguese glow with welcoming people, with their own genuineness that comes through in the stalls. The sweets are made with care, and delivered with a smile; the souvenirs last a lifetime and are sustainable, even if the local handicrafts are made from materials that are unique to our country, such as cork and recyclable fibers. And this year, the big events of the season are returning to Portugal!

Lisbon

Christmas Wonderland Lisbon Portugal
Christmas Wonderland at Lisbon, Photo by F Delventhal (Flickr)

In Lisbon, Wonderland returns to the heart of the city, in Parque Eduardo VII, between November 30 and January 1, 2024, and with it the huge Ferris wheel and the sustainable ice rink. In Baixa, the Rossio Christmas Market is back until December 23, promising lots of fun for all the family, as well as the traditional craft and food stalls of the season.

Take the opportunity to attend one of the many Christmas concerts that are returning to the city as part of the “Christmas in Lisbon” program.

Cascais

Cascais will also be transformed into a real “Christmas village” from November 30 to January 2, 2024, with a market, Santa’s House, an ice rink, and, of course, the usual Ferris wheel in Cascais Bay.

The region is known as the Portuguese Riviera, so don’t skip a stroll along the beach our a drive to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe.

Porto

In Porto, the well-known Christmas Market takes place on Avenida das Tílias, in the Crystal Palace Gardens, from December 1 to 23, with lots of music, entertainment, workshops, handicrafts, and regional products; while in the renovated Bolhão Market, from December 14 to 16, don’t miss its first Christmas fair, an event dedicated to celebrating the colors and flavors of traditional products this holiday season.

Before you go, make sure you give our Ultimate Guide to Porto a read, so that you enjoy the city to the fullest.

Viseu

Christmas Lights Viseu Portugal
Christmas Lights in Viseu, Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Flickr)

In Viseu, from December 8 to January 7, 2024, the city will once again experience the magic of Christmas through a program full of initiatives, such as the Christmas Market, workshops, shows, and concerts for kids and adults.

In addition to the magnificent historical and cultural heritage that alone justifies a getaway to Viseu, the “Garden City” has museums worthy of your visit, colorful flowers in every nook and cranny, leafy and cheerful gardens for pleasant strolls, monumental squares that invite contemplation, a gastronomy to drool over, a creative scene expressed in the performing arts and street art spread throughout the district.

Bragança

Elsewhere in the country, you’ll find the same Christmas atmosphere: in Bragança, the Land of Christmas and Dreams returns, from December 1 to January 7, 2024, which, in addition to a vast program throughout the city, has a great novelty of a 40-meter natural ice ramp, which will certainly provide a lot of fun.

Bragança is such a pure and picturesque city that we highly recommend you take your time to explore. Its castle is one of the coolest sights along the border with Spain and the hilly landscape is breathtaking.

Santa Maria da Feira

In Santa Maria da Feira, Perlim – Uma Quinta de Sonhos returns once again with various attractions that promise a lot of magic.

And just around the corner lies one of the most beautiful walkways in Portugal: the enchanting Passadiços do Rio Uíma, commonly known as Passadiços de Fiães. Four delightful kilometers reveal the charms of the lush, leafy forest through which the Uíma River, one of the many tributaries of the Douro River, flows. Along the way, there are small waterfalls, streams, a dam, and even an observation tower to study the local fauna, so make sure you don’t miss it.

Águeda

In Águeda, the famous and welcoming umbrellas and the World’s Largest Santa Claus await you from November 18 to January 7, 2024.

But the Umbrella Sky Project is far from being Águeda’s only attraction. There’s also one of the largest natural lagoons on the Iberian Peninsula to discover, one of the best railway museums in Portugal, a centuries-old bridge, and an educational village rich in heritage, traditions, and scenic beauty. Just to name a few.

Serra da Estrela

In Seia, the Aldeia Natal de Cabeça is a unique festival, as it only uses decorative materials extracted from nature and is run by the residents, who welcome visitors from December 8 to January 1, warmed by wool from the Serra da Estrela.

These mountains are by far the most “Christmassy” region in Portugal, with their fresh air and frequent snow, and we have just the perfect read to inspire you to visit.

Óbidos

And of course, Óbidos Vila Natal which, from November 30 to December 31, will be transformed into the School of Wizards to welcome all the little and big apprentices of magic.

To ensure that you don’t miss a thing while you’re there, make sure to give our Óbidos City Guide a read and find out all the hidden corners of this historical town.

Penamacor

In Penamacor, from December 7 to 25, the “Vila Madeiro” celebrates Christmas with various attractions, but the highlight is the arrival of the madeiro and the lighting of the bonfire in the churchyard, which brings together not only the locals but also tourists.

This tradition was one of our choices as one of Portugal’s Most Unique Christmas Traditions, so make sure to check that article, you never know what will pique your interest!

Madeira

Christmas Decorations Funchal Madeira Portugal
Christmas Decorations in Funchal, Madeira, Photo by Paul Stephenson (Flickr)

On the island of Madeira, from December 1 to January 7, the atmosphere is festive and the entertainment is daily, with the highlight being the night of the Market on December 23 and, of course, the famous fireworks display on December 31 in the bay of Funchal.

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