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Why Not Visit Lisbon for New Years

New Year’s Eve is also known as São Silvestre in Portugal and Lisbon’s mild climate makes it the perfect choice for a sparkling New Year celebration without the chill.   The city is still dressed in its festive best – from the spectacular 30m high Christmas tree taking pride of place in Praça do Comércio to the gleaming lights on famous streets and squares including Avenida da Liberdade and Marques de Pombal square. 

While Praça do Comércio is the focus of festivities on New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a New Year Break to remember in Lisbon.  Here, the Lisbon Tourism Association highlights some of the options: 

A number of Lisbon’s Christmas markets run through to New Year’s Day and beyond.  In Parque Eduardo VII, Wonderland Lisboa (until January 1st), features a 30m Ferris wheel giving 360° views of Lisbon and stalls full of local souvenirs, sweets, gastronomic delights, fashion, and accessories.    Away from the city centre, the Reino do Natal takes place in stunning Sintra until 6th January, with musical, dance and theatrical performances as well as the traditional stalls.    

Over the New Year, shows and concerts are held across the city.   One of the highlights is the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, which presents “Crystal” – a breathtaking performance combining ice skating, acrobatics and visual projections – at the Altice Arena from 22nd December to 1st January.   

For the sweet-toothed, cakes and desserts are a highlight of the festive season in Lisbon, with Bolo Rei (King Cake), a brioche-style cake stuffed with nuts and candied fruits and a hole in the middle (to resemble a crown) the best known.    Also popular at this time of year are rabanadas – similar to French Toast but soaked in milk, wine, syrup or honey sprinkled with cinnamon.  No New Year visitor to Lisbon should leave without trying one of these seasonal delights. 

The morning of 31st December will see thousands of keen runners take to the streets for the annual Corrida de São Silvestre. This famous 10k road race begins and ends at the top of the Parque Eduardo VII, passing through some of Lisbon’s most famous streets en route – there’s also a 500m kids race for the little ones.   

Lisbon’s nightlife is legendary, and it’s no surprise that New Year’s Eve is a great time to party with the locals into the small hours in the bars, clubs and streets of Alfama, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré.    

But the real focus of Lisbon’s New Year celebrations is Praça do Comércio, where crowds of revellers enjoy live music as the clock heads towards midnight, when a spectacular fireworks display lights up the sky over the river.  The music begins at 10.30 pm and runs through until 2.00 am, with this year’s artists including fado singer Cuca Roseta, local band Fogo Fogo and singer-songwriter Paulo Gonzo, one of Portugal’s leading recording artists. 

Local Lisboetas hoping for good luck in the New Year will eat 12 raisins – one for each stroke of the clock – at midnight, ideally accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine and a toast to the New Year.  Other traditions include wearing blue underwear for good luck or, to bring on wealth, standing on a chair with money in your hand! 

For more information, ideas, and inspiration on visiting Lisbon for New Year, please go to www.visitlisboa.com