The Sweetest Adventure at Óbidos Chocolate Festival

Written By Mihaela Gutu

In the central region of Portugal lies a historically rich town called Obidos. It is adorned with traditional houses that beautifully decorate the cobbled streets – all surrounded by the castle wall stretching for 1,565 meters. In short, if you ever reach Obidos, you’ll explore an authentic Portuguese city that will take your breath away with its charm!

If you’ve visited Portugal before, you probably already know about Ginja de Obidos, the famous cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup. Even if it’s sold in other cities as well, tasting it in the source town is definitely an experience one must not miss out on! Well, what if we told you that you can now combine tasting authentic Ginja de Obidos with the most varied chocolate products at the Obidos Chocolate Festival?

This year, the Óbidos International Chocolate Festival is taking place from March 1 to 17. Keep reading to learn more about the festival’s history, this year’s program, and ticket information! We’ve also included a chocolaty bonus at the end!

The Obidos Chocolate Festival

The first edition of the Obidos Chocolate Festival was held in 2002. As such, it is already a 22-year tradition for the city! The 2022 Obidos Chocolate Festival is particularly famous, as it marked 20 years since its first edition!

The Obidos Chocolate Festival is usually held in spring. Each year, the festival has a different theme which the chocolate sculptures and exhibitions are based on. For about a week, locals and tourists have the sweetest time of their lives tasting unique chocolate products and chocolate-based recipes.

In 2024, the Obidos Chocolate Festival will be held from the 1st until the 17th of March, so if you were thinking of visiting Portugal next month (which is an excellent choice, by the way, as it’s not very crowded yet and the weather is pleasant), keep in mind the dates of the festival! You won’t regret it!

This year, the theme of the festival is Celebrar Portugal (“Celebrating Portugal”). The events and workshops aim to highlight the country’s most acclaimed traditions and businesses related to chocolate consumption.

7 Reasons to Visit Obidos, Portugal for the Chocolate Festival

If we haven’t convinced you yet, we’re not giving up! Here are 7 reasons why you should not hesitate to sweeten your Portuguese journey at the Obidos Chocolate Festival!

1. Chocolate sculptures

Portugal is a country that cherishes tradition, art, and culture. How can one not see sculptures or any other pieces of art at a festival held in a historic city that breathes art in and out?!

But wait! That’s not even the best part! You’ll be able to actually observe the artists molding the chocolate sculptures on the spot! You’ll witness their creative process and the techniques they’re using to combine tradition, value, and… well, chocolate!

2. Cooking demonstration

The organizers of the festival have selected the best cooks who will be sharing their secrets in using chocolate for various recipes. Additionally, they’ll cook something on the spot using chocolate, surprising you with the creative results!

Photo by Maria Georgieva (Unsplash)

3. Competitions

This year, the festival will have six competitions:

  • The Chocolate Wedding Cake Star is dedicated to professional cooks who want to create a wedding cake using cocoa or chocolate; it will take place on the 9th of March. 
  • The Chocolate Rising Star is dedicated to enthusiasts who want to showcase their cooking talents; it will take place on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 10th of March.
  • The Best Chocolate Product will take place on the 8th of March; the jury will select the best chocolate product exhibited at the Obidos, Portugal Chocolate Festival.
  • The Best Chocolate Cocktail is dedicated to baristas who will demonstrate their talent by creating a unique beverage using chocolate; it will take place on the 15th of March.
  • The Best Homemade Chocolate Cake, dedicated to anyone who wants to participate; will take place on the 16th of March.
  • The Best Chocolate Menu is dedicated to restaurants who want to try their hand at outlining a creative menu focusing on chocolate. The menu/dishes will be revealed on the 17th of March.

For further details regarding regulations and registration forms, please visit the Obidos Chocolate Festival official website.

4. Little Chefs Workshops

If you’re visiting Portugal with your children, brace yourself! They’ll probably end up asking if your family can move to Obidos forever! Living in the Chocolate City – what a dream!

However, being constantly surrounded by chocolate isn’t the only reason your kids will enjoy Obidos. There will also be a workshop for the little ones! They’ll be able to decorate eggs with colored cocoa butter, add chocolate, and paint the eggs with fat-soluble colors.

This way, they won’t only sweeten their day but also put their creativity and artistic selves to work! Afterward, the children will, of course, eat their creations!

Photo by Tetiana Bykovets (Unsplash)

5. Melgão Station Journey

Melgão Cacau e Chocolates is a famous brand in Portugal that focuses on transforming cocoa beans into high-quality chocolate. The company’s expertise revolves around wild and rare varieties.

This chocolate factory is located in the Montemor-o-Novo railway station building and has preserved its original decorative elements and, therefore, its historical value.

During the Obidos Chocolate Festival, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this factory. You’ll discover how cocoa beans end up being tasty chocolate tablets! During your chocolaty journey, you’ll also learn how the Melgão Cacau e Chocolates brand works toward developing sustainable practices, thus promoting environmental responsibility.

6. Exhibitions

A universe of chocolate – Obidos, Portugal! What a pleasure!

Not only will you witness professional cooks creating exclusive recipes live and artists using chocolate to make sculptures, but you’ll also have the opportunity to explore finished products in all their splendor!

7. Relax with a Cup of Chocolate

Are you a beer or cocktail connoisseur? Perfect! The International Chocolate Festival in Portugal has an excellent spot for you – a Chocolate Pub that serves a myriad of unique craft beer types and chocolate-based cocktails. This is definitely something you shouldn’t miss out on!

If you prefer coffee over beer – that’s not a problem at all! There will be a Portuguese-style terrace where you can delight in the tastiest espresso in the world with a piece of high-quality chocolate! Additionally, since Obidos is filled with tiny stops that offer Ginja in chocolate cups, don’t forget to stop and try some!

Obidos Chocolate Festival Tickets

As mentioned, the Obidos Chocolate Festival 2024 dates are 1st-17th of March. The festival’s schedule is Friday to Sunday, from 11 am to 8 pm.

Tickets cost only 10 EUR for adults and 8 EUR for children aged 3-11. Kids under two years old do not need a ticket. There are also various discounts for students, families, and people with disabilities. However, these tickets can be purchased at the local box office only.

If you’re visiting Portugal with a larger group (more than 25 people), you can contact the organizers at [email protected] to book a group ticket.

Tips on Visiting the International Chocolate Festival in Óbidos

First things first – the weather. Although Portugal can be quite warm in March, it can also be quite rainy (or both!). March is sometimes very sunny and hot; other times, it’s dull and windy. In short, prepare for both. Also, don’t forget that Obidos is located on a hilltop, so if the weather forecast predicts strong winds, you should definitely pack something to protect yourself from the cold.

Additionally, we strongly recommend bringing cash. There are indeed a few ATMs in the city, but we assume you’d rather eat some chocolate than stay in line at an ATM!

Since it will be pretty crowded, make sure to pack all your belongings safely.

How to Get to Óbidos Chocolate Festival

If you’re coming to Obidos by car, you can take the A8, A15, or IP6 motorways. To reach the festival faster, use the A8 North – Exit 17 – Gaeiras/Obidos or the A8 South – Exit 15 – Obidos exits.

If you don’t have a car, you can always take the train or the bus. Locals often use these to reach their destinations, so the train/bus routes are quite well organized and scheduled.

Here’s how to get to Obidos from Lisbon:

  • By train. You can take the train from one of the railway stations in Lisbon. For example, the first train to Obidos leaves the Sete Rios station at 5:49 am, arrives at 8:01 am, and costs only 9,05 EUR. There are multiple other trains throughout the day, the last one leaving at 6:50 pm. For further schedule and price information, be sure to check out the official Comboios de Portugal website.
  • By bus. Take the bus to Óbidos from Lisboa Campo Grande. Buses to Obidos are scheduled almost hourly, even after 6 pm. For further schedule and price details, check out the official Rodoviária de Oeste website.

How to get to Obidos from Porto:

  • By train. Reaching Obidos from Porto is slightly more difficult. There’s no direct train, which is why it will take more time (roughly 5 hours) and cost more (roughly 25 EUR).

If you’re traveling with a larger group, you can always take an Uber or a Bolt and split the costs. Considering that it’s also possible to schedule an Uber drive beforehand, you’ll have the liberty to choose the day/hour yourself.

Porto Chocolate Festival

The Obidos Chocolate Festival isn’t the only event in Portugal that honors the art of producing chocolate and cacao. In October, Porto District hosts another festival called Chocolat Portugal.

Although it is known as the Porto Chocolate Festival, it is actually held at WOW in Vila Nova de Gaia. This city is located south of the city of Porto. It should only take you 15 minutes by car to arrive there.

Similar to the Obidos Chocolate Festival, the Chocolat Portugal has a highly varied program that includes a chocolate market, a chocolate and cacao international forum, showcooking, and workshops. Last year, the festival greeted locals and tourists with Chocoland, an innovative concept designed just for kids that offers access to chocolate-related activities and a kids’ fun zone.

The dates for the 2024 Chocolat Portugal festival haven’t been announced yet, so keep an eye on the festival’s official website.

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