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What to eat during Lisbon’s Sardine Festival… besides sardines!

If the Portuguese generally love summer, there’s one month that excites Lisbon locals and visitors the most: June! This is when Lisbon hosts the city’s largest street party, dedicated to Saint Anthony. Santo António, as he is locally known, is the patron saint for the recovery of lost things, love and marriage. And, in the Portuguese capital, he’s somehow become synonymous with grilled sardines too!

Here in Lisbon, the festival of St. Anthony is widely known as the Santos Populares, or “popular saints”, a designation that in the city of Porto is associated with St. John, or São João, in Portuguese. In Lisbon, the popular celebrations reach their peak on the night of the 12th of June, but they truly do keep Lisbon entertained all month along. During this time, you can expect a colorful parade to happen down Avenida da Liberdade. Somehow akin to Brazil’s carnival, and locally known as marchas populares, this event has the city’s several neighborhoods compete to stand out thanks to their costumes and choreographies. Besides this popular festival, a few lucky couples get to be married at Lisbon’s Cathedral, where the municipality hosts a mass wedding known as casamentos de Santo António, which is broadcasted on national TV, thus honoring St. Anthony’s link with love and marriage.

But the main attraction for the general public are indeed arraiais, that is, outdoor gatherings with music, dancing and lots of street food, that take place in some of the most iconic areas of Lisbon, such as Alfama, Mouraria, Madragoa, Bica and Graça.

If Lisbon’s street food scene is not huge during the rest of the year, at least during the Santos Populares we can feast on a lot of savory and sweet treats, as well as drinks, while enjoying the picturesque and hilly alleys of the city.

Grilled sardines are the obvious choice of food during St. An