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01 December 2013

December in the Algarve…………and there'syou thinking we were just a summer resort!!

It’s the 1st of December 2013 so let the festive season begin! 

As for most who celebrate Christmas, we will be hitting the shops, the markets, Christmas fayres (there have been some really good ones already) all in the vain attempt to find the perfect gift for family and friends.

Loule's main roundabout Christmas lights 

The streets are slowly being decorated, not with as much as in past years, austerity measures have made local council reduce their spending, but that does not stop shops decorating their windows and filling them with lots of tantalising goodies and the aroma of roasted chestnuts is everywhere.  One thing you will always notice throughout the Algarve is nativity figures on all the major roundabouts within towns.  The shopping centres are heavily decorated with huge stunning trees and boughs filled with giant baubles getting us all into the festive mood and not forgetting the Christmas music. By the 24th of the month, we will all have bumbled our way in the Christmas and be ready for the big days, yes days, the Portuguese celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so BRING IT ON!!!! 

Nativity scene on most town roundabouts

Unfortunately for some, Christmas is a stressful time of the year and some may need a little help.

Since the austerity package started here in Portugal, much emphasis has of late been to help the needy, and quite rightly so.
The season of goodwill kicks off today 1st December with a great charity event in Albufeira at the Forte do Vale Hotel at 13.00 hours.   Kiss FM our local English speaking radio station are providing the music and locals are invited to give a presents for children in need.  

Next Saturday 7th December, once again the “Great Father Christmas Walk” takes place.  This is the second year it is being held and again a charity event to help the less fortunate.  This event asks locals to bring along some food staples such as dried food, milk, olive oil etc.  For those who wish to give a money donation, all is gratefully received.  The event starts at 11.00 so put on your Father Christmas hat or outfit if you wish and the walks sets off from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Armacao de Pera.  

For those who prefer to shop until they drop to help the needy, then next Saturday sees another charity event at little closer to the Quintassential at Vale do Lobo.  Again all proceeds from this event are going to the needy.  This is an all day event 11.00 to 17.00 hours and there will be entertainment, refreshments and as with any Portuguese event, food.

Portugal’s passion for food, even more evident at Christmas time.

Traditional Portuguese Christmas Bolo Rei

For those who have visited Portugal in the past or who know any Portuguese national, you will know that food plays a HUGE part in our culture and especially during the Christmas period.

From yesterday until Sunday 8th December, two traditional towns in the central Algarve, Silves and Sao Bartolomeu de Messines have their fayre of traditional Portuguese cuisine and drinks in various restaurants.   There is no better opportunity to sample some of the fabulous traditional Portuguese dishes.

Traditional Roast Turkey is also widely eaten on Christmas Day in Portugal 

It goes without saying; all the major hotels and restaurants in the Algarve lay on traditional Christmas fayre this month.

Traditional Portuguese Christmas Desserts
Christmas Shopping

The stress of buying Christmas presents!!!   

Thankfully Loule our local town provides us with the solution to all our headaches and puts on a Christmas shopping event with a difference. 

On the 7th December, Loule hosts its annual Feira da Serra (Mountain Fair).  They have demonstrations of the local traditions and crafts and believe you in me, there are a fair few and very interesting, but as always, the food, oh the glorious food, be prepared, there will be plenty of it.   There are handicrafts from the Serra do Caldeirao, located just behind the Quintassential and lots of products from the inner land regions.   This great event is being held in the main avenue in Loule, Avenida Jose da Costa Mealha.  So take out the pain of buying that something different and support our local event.

Traditional Algarvian liquores sold at Feira Da Serra in Loule 

Another traditional fayre taking place today, 1st December is the Sao Bras Museum from 11.00 – 16.00 hours.  There are lots of Christmas goodies and tasty options for those who have a sweet tooth.  One of our most favourite cake makers comes from Sao Bras and he is always at this fayre and at the Loule one too. 

Traditional Market with a difference

For those who have searched all these fayres and are still on the lookout for a bargain, then one of the biggest markets in the Algarve, and the most traditional of them all, takes place next Sunday 8th December, Estoi Market. This is not just your run-of-the-mill every day market, but a market that sells everything from plastic buckets and household goods to plants, trees and seedlings.  

Entrance to Estoi Market 

Horses (and all their tackle), chickens, turkeys, rabbits and birds of all shapes, sizes and colours are there for the choosing. You can get cheeses from all over Portugal, presunto on the bone or sliced while you watch; olives, honey and home grown fruit and vegetables are in abundance. 

Good bargains available in leatherware, pottery etc 

It’s all there, along with clothes, accessories, toys and artwork. Want a break? Take a seat for a serving of chicken piri piri or a cup of coffee with a delicious fartura to take the weight off while you figure out who else is on your Christmas list!

Even the markets have food areas! 

Now for the Entertainment

A Christmas concert is being held in Faro at The Teatro da Figuras on 22nd December starting at 18.30 hours featuring the Classic Orchestra of the South.  There will be a special repertoire dedicated to the festive season. Tickets cost €7.50 each. 

Fun time for the children

Christmas would not be Christmas without the excitement of the children.  Starting on 20th December and going through until 25th December in Santa Luzia, near Tavira in the eastern Algarve, there is a huge party for the children enjoy. 

There’s a ‘Christmas Village’ in the town square, where the children can play, create figures with pasta, bread and even cork, and join in all the games and competitions.

This is mainly for children of pre-school and primary ages; all are welcome to take part in the event, which opens with a big Christmas party on the 20th December. With the arrival of the artificial snow, Santa Claus will enter into the magic kingdom with its castles and caves.

There will be magic shows, theatre and concerts and so much more to keep children spellbound with the magic of Christmas. All comers are welcome and it’s free! What a treat to give your young ones.

New Year’s Eve

Ending the year is a big affair here in the Algarve and it can be as big or as small event as you like.  There are always huge parties on the beaches, most famous ones local to the Quintassential are Quarteira and Albufeira, then there are the parties in nightclubs, hotels and restaurants, as well as at many of the local Juntas (local parish council events) hosting a party.

One thing you are guaranteed is a fantastic firework display, visible the length and breadth of the Algarve and with our elevated position here at The Quintassential, you will not get a better view of the ALL.  

There is something for everyone here in the Algarve and the best bit about it; children are welcome to almost every single event.

These are just a few of the events happening here in the Algarve, there are many more.

Enjoy December, I bet the big man himself Mr FC can't wait to put his feet up on the 25th December end enjoy the Algarvian winter................still good enough to go swimming in the sea!!

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