CARNIVAL & COLOUR DAY 2023 (ÁGUEDA)
I have always wanted to attend this fabulous event in Águeda. We always visit the AgitÁgueda each year to view all the incredible urban street art and the world famous Umbrella Sky Project with colourful hanging umbrellas. It is held annually in July and this year’s event took place on 1-23 July 2023. There is a wonderful diverse cultural programme, 23 full days of FUN filled with culture, music, concerts, urban art, street entertainment, sports, crafts, gastronomy and fun for the whole family. There is even a spectacular river pool which is open until the end of August. The GICA Pavillion hosts Agit Kids, a space with children’s entertainment ages 3-16. There are trampolines, inflatables and a special area dedicated to virtual reality with 4 time capsules with more than 50 games, 2 motorcycle simulators and a slide-board simulator. I think hubby was hoping to trap me in the Doctor Who style time capsule and magically transport me back to 1996 and pretend to have never met me (ha ha). It would be like an episode of Quantum Leap. The concerts offered some crazy main acts this year including The Stranglers, T-Rex and Wet bed gang.
The Fora d’Horas (Out of Hours) Carnival and Colour Day which is also known as Sakthi took place on Sunday 16th July. We didn’t participate in the urban art trail this year as we have already experienced this in previous years. Our aim was to attend the Out of Hours party and the Colour Day which commenced at 16:30. We registered for our free T.Shirt and dust bags on the AgitÁgueda official website 2 weeks prior to the event. We got lucky as they disappeared within a couple of hours like hot cakes. You can still attend the Colour Day even if you don’t have one of the limited free T.Shirts, just wear your own white shirt and be prepared to be blasted from head to toe with colourful non toxic dye. I also prepared myself by wearing old freebie trainers and I had the clever initiative to safeguard my new iPhone in my waterproof plastic phone wallet/lanyard which I usually use on the water for SUP boarding. It’s basically a see-through plastic pouch which covered my camera so I did not get any dye on it. What can I say, I am a genius and the Princess of Planning but my plan epically failed (ha ha). I did have plans of buying a shower cap to protect my new highlighted barnet but I couldn’t source one in the local pharmacy and to be honest, I didn’t want to look like an idiot. Luckily we were given free straw hats which was an added bonus apart from the fact that they were very flimsy and blew off with the slightest breeze. Hubby was on hat patrol and had to keep chasing after Helena’s hat (ha ha).
We arrived around midday and our first visit was the Tourist Information Centre before they closed at 13:00 to pick up some maps and view the art installation created by Pedro Costa. It is a unique miniature Lego creation of the Umbrella Sky Project and I was very eager to see it up close. The artist apparently used balloons as the material for the tiny umbrellas and it was very charming although my photos do not do it justice with the reflection as it is protected behind a glass cabinet so the crazy Brit can’t fondle and break it (ha ha). At Christmastime they had a miniature Santa here which we unfortunately missed because the Tourist Information centre closes for lunch and then finally at 18:00. I really wanted to see it as a contrast against the World’s biggest Santa which is located by the stage throughout December. Hubby enjoys Lego and is a bit of a nerd so I knew he would appreciate its fine glory. Afterwards we decided to collect our free Colour Day T.Shirts and there was some confusion as my name wasn’t on the list! I showed them my confirmation email and they were fine. I preordered a size medium but the lady said I was small. I always misjudge my size after losing over 100 lbs and my aim was to wear a baggy shirt to protect my skirt. I’ve never been to a Colour Day before and we both assumed that the dust bag was a cheap drawstring bag to protect our backpacks and personal belongings but in fact you got to choose 2 dust bags each which turned out to be bags of coloured dye dust to throw at each other. I was delighted and chose hot pink and purple and hubby chose blue and orange. We also got fantastic free straw hats!
The T.Shirt collection station point was located in Praça do Municipio and I stumbled across an marvellous Urban art 3d installation by the talented Argentinian artist Eduardo Relero. It is in collaboration with Cuboliquido and very impressive. It portrays the colourful umbrellas that bring life to the city each Summer. You have to place your feet in a certain position to be able to fully see the painting come alive in 3D. We then strolled around the Umbrella Sky Project and colourful quaint streets and admired some of the new 2023 installations such as the quirky motorbikes complete with helmets, mini car, gigantic Águeda bench and pretty mural steps. I love the staircases and that the artists change the theme according to the season. At Christmas time they all have a Winter Wonderland theme. Hubby bought me a crazy rainbow Águeda umbrella hat which was so much fun but surprisingly a tight fit for my average sized head. We also had a stroll along the riverbank to the river beach/leisure area and checked out the evenings entertainment at the main stage.
At lunchtime we headed to one of our favourite cafes on the pretty Colour Rain street to enjoy a gigantic special hot dog and coke and I washed it down with an espresso as I thought I needed the added caffeine fix to pump me up for the carnival fun. I love this street as the brightly coloured hanging tinsel streamers shimmer and sway in the light breeze and the sun shines through the rainbow colours which make it look so wonderful. The street is actually an Avenue and called Av. Dr Eugénio Ribeiro and it’s also the location of the Colour Day and Parade. There are many cafes along this stretch and we love to sit outside and dine underneath the coloured rain. After lunch we walked back to our vehicle to change outfits. I got semi-naked on the street next to our car and changed into my free T.Shirt and denim skirt. The denim skirt is a pre-loved €3 bargain market purchase and I swapped my white trainers for my freebie black ones so I didn’t care if my clothing got trashed. Then we made our way to the Parque Municipal de Alta Villa (City Park) because I love this tranquil green space with its castle, stone bridge and pretty lake with so many frogs. We thought that we needed a little rest before all the crowds and chaos commenced. Hubby found a shaded spot for us amongst lots of handmade paper windmills, how cute. We must have looked like a right pair of idiots twinning in our matching shirts and hats (ha ha). The city was very quiet for a Sunday with not many people, which surprised me. There were thousands at the Colour Day and Carnival but it wasn’t too overwhelming.
We did not know what to expect and were delighted when the magnificent parade commenced. We decided to watch the parade from the very start of the Avenue which resulted in us being at the back and tail end of the parade when the Colour Day started. It was a crazy vivid sea of music and fun with bands, characters from TV shows, puppets, men and ladies on stilts, carnival floats and theatrical delights as well as a lot of many dancers, some more talented than others. If you like dancing, feathers and ladies bottoms of all shapes and sizes then this is the parade for you (ha ha). My favourite was the gigantic dragon and the theatrical guy’s acting skills were fabulous, he energetically ran around, sword fighting and tried to slay the fire breathing beast. He had very realistic looking scars/claw marks on his back. Hubby’s favourite was the frog because he loves frogs and toads. All the characters were so friendly and enthusiastic. They high fived us as they passed by and they interacted with the crowds and adults not just children which was a delight to see. Some children ran up and hugged the characters which was welcomed and adorable. Watching the glee on their little faces was awesome and I don’t even like children, especially other peoples (ha ha). There were a few characters that I didn’t recognise because I don’t have small children so I’m not used to the Nickelodeon characters. I recognised Peppa Pig, Mickey and Minnie Mouse but there were some strange middle aged ladies dressed up in blue overalls and yellow hard hats which looked like a cross between Bob the Builder and Super Mario and they were led by a lady rat (ha ha). I am not sure what that was all about but it made us laugh. I always admire the people on stilts because it certainly looks a challenge and I would just end flat on my ass for sure if I attempted to join in. The gorgeous male butterfly on stilts blew me a kiss and made my day!
At the end of the parade the Colour Day event began. Colourful dust is blasted from large cannons at random spots throughout the parade route and everyone starts enthusiastically throwing their dust bags in the air. I had a slight malfunction with my plastic pouch/lanyard device so my phone got saturated in dye but it survived as thankfully I also had a regular screen and camera protector. It was such a spectacular fun afternoon/evening and we followed the parade through the streets until we reached the river beach behind the main stage. The parade participants have great stamina because by this point they had been dancing along for around 2 hours! Crowds and Helena are not a great mix but I loved The Color Day event so much. The whole sky was magically transformed into mesmerising hues of greens, blues, magentas, violets, yellows and all colours of the rainbow. We danced in the streets under the colourful clouds of dust whilst the light wind carried the message of love and happiness to all around. I wonder how much those guys get paid to fire coloured dust out of cannons into the sky, not a bad job if you like to party and eat dust.
It was a unique and amazing summer’s day and I am glad that we also managed to squeeze in a romantic stroll down the colourful streets to view all the umbrellas and visit my favourite city park. The day was full of colour, light, creativity and imagination. What a fabulous atmosphere and carnival spirit. A truly unforgettable experience. I loved the bright and vibrant parade with all the Las Vegas style feathered glitzy and glamorous samba dancers in skimpy outfits. I wish I had a perky firm ass that could model such a leotard (ha ha). I think hubby even had a little dance with his grandad moves which is incredible because it usually takes at least 8 bottles of Sagres to get my dude anywhere near a dancefloor. The power of the “Samba Sagres”. It was definitely beer O Clock for me but hubby was the designated driver so he was a sober judge (ha ha). After a few glasses of wine there are many culinary delights to sample. Taverns line the streets selling the most tasty Portuguese delights. The parade floats reminded me of my childhood and attending the annual Bridgewater Carnival near my birthplace of Bristol.
We stayed late into the evening soaking up the ambiance and listening to the talented bands play. Next year I plan to attend the “Mad Parade” which is just perfect for me as I’m known locally as “The Crazy Brit” (ha ha). We also will stay late to watch a band or two. The night before we visited The Stranglers were playing! I am now showing my age (ha ha). There is a wide range of talented musicians and a full programme to enjoy. If you are sensitive to noise there is even a Silent Party! There is something for everyone to enjoy and plenty of family activities. It was funny to see some folk who lined the streets to watch the parade in their finest outfits. Some Colour Day revelers decided to throw colour dust on them and whilst some spectators laughed others were more than mildly annoyed. We thought it was hilarious because you can’t watch such a themed event and not expect to get a little colour dye on you. There were more than one fussy wife brushing off their hubby’s designer shirt and looking more than a tad irate. No one was safe, not even an elderly disabled lady spectator in her wheelchair, she got colour blasted and bombed head to toe and so did the Police car, I promise it wasn’t me (ha ha).
I forgot to pack my bikini and towel so our day ended with us debating if we should strip off naked at the river beach and enter the water exposing our private parts to thousands of party goers. In the end I decided to enter fully clothed. Yes, this crazy ass middle aged menopausal lady entered the river fully clothed and shoed! The river water was actually refreshingly warm and I submerged my whole body and head under the water much to the surprise of many bystanders. Hubby followed my lead but misjudged the drop in depth so one minute he is wading through the shallow waters then he dramatically disappeared underwater, I nearly wet myself laughing (ha ha). He was gone for a very long minute and I thought I might have to line up husband number 3 but then he appeared dramatically like a not to serene mermaid emerging from the ocean (ha ha). Then we endured a soggy 5 minute walk back to our car. The short walk back was eventful as I looked like I had just entered a wet T.Shirt contest for the elderly (ha ha). I reckon I would have won 3rd prize for sure for my age category if it were 49-59 (ha ha). It was a huge struggle to get my soaking wet denim skirt off whilst stood next to our car and I nearly pulled a muscle or two during the vigorous process. I changed back into my dress and kept on my wet underwear which dried really quickly in the Portuguese evening heat. Hubby treated me to a huge snickers fartura com recheio and we sat on the grass next to the main stage. I was expecting a hot sugar filled delight with a runny snickers filling but I actually got a very big fartura with yummy oozing nutella chocolate filling and topped with a whole sliced snickers bar! Bejesus it was delightful and so yummy. Last time we sampled Tony’s fartura’s and they were cold and greasy. This time we tried our luck with Nuno’s and oh my gosh, I was in sugar rush heaven, I’ve never tasted such a scrummy fartura, 10/10 DELICIOUS!
I did have another horrible toilet experience, I rushed to the loo for a lady pee pee with my sunglasses on and sat down quickly and didn’t realise until I got up that someone had ejected a nasty runny code brown over the back of the seat. I didn’t see it until I got up and I very nearly puked on the spot! Disgusting is the key word and I don’t know why whoever did that would not have the decency to wipe it off. I was then embarrassed that the person after me would think that it was me. This is not the first time I have experienced this here in Portugal. I can only assume that folk overeat festival food and get the shits more often than not. I struggle with IBS so I know very well about unpredictable bellies but I also know that I am responsible for my own mess and that includes cleaning up my own shit! This was the only negative of the day. On the way home we spotted a huge stage and another festival! We were both exhausted and not really Festival round 2 ready as I still had wet knickers and bra from my river venture and my hair was mostly dry but very fluffy from the water. Despite this we thought it was a good idea to visit because you only live once and you’re a long time dead (ha ha). We drove around in circles for 5 minutes trying to locate a parking space but there was nothing so we reluctantly gave up hope. Vehicles were dangerously parked on the roundabout and in the end we decided it was not a good idea and just went home.
I know photos of a parade including dancers and musicians do not portray the full atmosphere and give a poor image of just how amazing the carnival vibe was so please take a look at my Casa Valhal and Facebook pages for all the amazing videos. There are lots of jiggling and wiggling sparkly bottoms to entice you and I’m not talking about mine although I couldn’t stand still and moved mine to the rhythm and beat of the drums (ha ha). I have also taken some slightly blurry screen shots of my videos and shared here as the smiles were infectious. Remember to smile while your young and still have teeth (ha ha).
Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.
Lego Art Installation by Pedro Costa
Umbrella Sky Project & More
Rainbow Slide Stairs
Umbrella Waterfall Stairs
My Heart Is …
Colour Rain Rainbow & Lunch
3D Art by Eduardo Relero (In Collaboration with Cuboliquido
Parque Municipal de Alta Vila
Park Selfie Hat Fun in the Sun
Helena & the Hilarious Rainbow Hat
Colour Day Selfies
Out of Hours Carnival – Photos
Video Screen Shots
The Nightmare Puppets
I had a crazy vivid nightmare about these puppets. They were chasing me and were relentless, I woke up in the middle of the night all scared and sweaty. I really should lay off the magic shrooms (ha ha).
How it Ended – Mermaid Helena – Wet & Wild
Wow, what a magnificent day! We had a total total blast! Color Day and Carnival happiness is explosive! I’m not sure how I’m going to get all the crazy coloured dye out of my freshly highlighted barnet. Hubby threw lots of paint in my mouth by accident but it serves me right because I really should know when to keep my mouth closed (ha ha). I’m mildly concerned that it will adhere to my bleach and tinted highlights and stay put forever despite my river baptism. I might have to rock up to my daughter’s graduation in Nottingham with random multi coloured hair looking like the 1980’s My Little Pony “Rainbow Dash”. I can start a whole new trend (ha ha).
Final Funny – Fanny Face
These acrobats were super duper. Hubby took a fancy to their leotards and said he might buy me one for my 50th birthday because apparently I am a right old “Fanny Face” (ha ha). I was very impressed in how far and straight the lady could get her leg in the air! I only wish my legs would separate that far. I attempted doing the splits in my sun room recently and strained my fanny bits, I think the technical name is groin injury (ha ha).
Let’s throw out the colours in the air, and renew our love with a bit of romantic colour!
Águeda – Urban Art & Christmas
Here are my previous posts which include trips to Águeda, if you want to view the epic urban art trail and World’s Biggest Santa!