One of the biggest cultural festivals taking place in Lisbon this summer also happens to be free to enter.
The Festival dos Oceanos 2011 (Oceans Festival) is a month-long extravaganza of concerts, street theatre, shows and performance art that the Portuguese capital hosts throughout the first two weeks of August in various locations across the city.
In addition to a lively and eclectic mix of music, song and dance, the festival is also a stage for an inspiring National Geographic photographic exhibition, and the Universe of Light, an installation light show projected through a maze of tunnels (the kids will love it). In addition, many of Lisbon’s museums will be extending their opening hours into the night.
The theme for this year’s festival is Universality, Sustainability and Entertainment and a national and international line-up has been confirmed that will see an estimated 350,000 visitors swell the city.
Raising the curtain on Saturday 30 July is British soul singer and songwriter Joss Stone, supported by noted Portuguese band X-Wife and Sara Tavares, also from Portugal. Lisbon’s elegant riverfront square, Praça do Comércio, is the place to head for and the entertainment strikes up at 9pm.
A recurring theme throughout the eight years this event has been held is fado, with some of Portugal’s best-known exponents of the “Portuguese blues” pleasing audiences with traditional as well as more contemporary versions of this most emblematic and haunting of national musical expression. This year however sees a departure from the more standardised performances, with fado singers invited to interact with musicians from India, Brazil and Africa under the banner “Fado Invites…” Expect some engaging world music from the likes of Ana Sofia Zambujo, Ritinha Lobo, Ana Moura, Ray Lema and Sónia Shirsat, among others.
These magical and intimate concerts will take place on 1, 3, 8 and 10 August at Pátio da Galé in downtown Lisbon’s Praça do Comércio.
On 5 and 6 August, the Italian production company Materiali Resistetenti will stage “Waterwall” where dancers and acrobats literally perform on, through and in a huge man-made waterfall to a hypnotising electronic soundtrack. This really is a feast for the senses so be sure to bring your cameras and camcorders. Again, Praça do Comércio will host this extraordinary event.
Also in the square, an intriguing music and special effects concert is held on 12 and 13 August when “Muaré” – a combination of rock music played by Duchamp Pilot, a laser show, and a troupe of dancers – woo audiences with an acrobatic display of synchronised choreography.
Saturday 13 August is the last day of Festival dos Oceanos and after “Muaré” spectators should head for nearby Cais das Colunas for the best views of the spectacular closing show, the “Pyro-Musical” fireworks display.
More information can be found on the festival’s website www.festivaldosoceanos.com