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"A unique party in a unique city" is the vow made in the programme prepared by the council and which this year will take myriad forms, interweaving the tradition of this ancient festa and its folk references with new and surprising forms of entertainment and involvement in the public space.
Reviving memories and honouring traditions while also innovating, the festivities will also spread their wings to encompass new artistic disciplines, via for example the debut of a Circus Festival in the gardens of the Palácio de Cristal (19 May-24 June), which will bring some of the most skilful and virtuoso practitioners of this art form to Porto in more than 15 shows open to the general public.
Moreover, some of the most popular symbols of the city’s largest festivities, such as the waterfalls, watermills and São João martelinhos, will inspire three new artistic projects included in the Porto Urban Art Programme: "Sunweel", an interactive installation by the Morada Vaga collective, designed for the pond at the top of the Avenida dos Aliados; "GIRA", the winning entrant in the São João '16 Martelinhos Competition in the "Intervention in a Public Space" category, in Largo de S. Domingos from 10-26 June; and "Lasers de São João", an immersive installation in Praça General Humberto Delgado that will invite the public to experience a São João evening in Porto in advance.
Combining over 300 events, including dances and parades, processions and arruadas, races and regattas, concerts and music festivals, and also lots of street entertainment, fun and kids’ activities, the programme will include, amongst other novelties, a stage of Rally de Portugal (20 May), the first Porto Beer Fest (16-19 June in the gardens of the Palácio de Cristal), Up Street – Urban Art Market (17-19 June in the Pavilhão Rosa Mota), and the return of the Euro Stadiums (Praça D. João I and Edifício Transparente) for all those who want to join in the party atmosphere during Euro 2016.
Also back are the Concerts in the Avenue so that everyone can celebrate to the sound of the big bands. This year, it’s the turn of Xutos & Pontapés, Portugal’s biggest rock band, to set the rhythm on the year’s longest and most festive night, climbing onto the stage in Aliados right after the end of the traditional fireworks display, which will be held above the river and beside the Luiz I Bridge.
On the public holiday on 24 June, it will be the turn of the Banda Sinfónica Portuguesa to revisit the hits of the world’s most famous bands, such as the Beatles, Queen and Scorpions. Finally, on the night of 25 June, Rui Reininho’s GNR will join the Banda Sinfónica da Guarda Nacional Republicana for a unique concert. The same day, another high point in the programme will be held with the São João processions, this year starting in Praça da Batalha at 8.30 pm and ending in Praça General Humberto Delgado in Avenida dos Aliados.
Children are especially targeted in the second week of the festival. From 25 May to 1 June (Children’s Day), a Kids’ Party will be held in the gardens of the Palácio de Cristal (28 May-1 June) and the Mini Nos Primavera Sound on 29 May, from 2-8 pm, in the Parque da Cidade.