Torres Vedras carnival
Torres Vedras carnival maintains a strong traditional component, constituted by 13 large-scale allegorical floats, groups of masked revellers, typical figures wearing large carved heads, giant figures, and Zés Pereiras drumming groups, with traditional drums and bagpipes.
The Carnival Kings, both of whom are male, are normally personalities from the region. The two kings are accompanied by a court of caricature ministers and “Matrafonas (“grotesque matrons”) and also a caricature of the Royal guard.
Another special aspect of the Torres Vedras Festival is the fact that a pre-presentation is provided during the month of August, in Praia de Santa Cruz. This involves four days of festivities, including the presentation of samba schools, allegorical floats and lively Zés Pereiras drumming groups.
At the end of the 19th century, carnival was celebrated in Torres Vedras by means of dances organised by the municipality, without any street entertainment, except for several groups of masked individuals that walked through the streets, entertaining the local population.
It was only in 1912 that a carnival commission first met, with the aid of the Philharmonic Orchestra, and organised the procession during the two days of the festivity, requesting donations in order to distribute aid to poor people.
The first procession of allegorical floats, drawn by oxen, with a “king” and “guard of honour”, mounted on donkeys, took place in 1924. In 1926, the first carnival with a king and queen was organised. In 1928, the “matrafonas” (men dressed as women in a ridiculous fashion), joined the procession.
In 1931, the first “battle of the flowers” was held, in a closed venue with an entrance fee. In 1933 there was major divulgation of the festivities, which were filmed and presented in a cinema in Lisbon. In that year, the procession was held on both the Monday and Tuesday. The revenues obtained during these years were donated to local or charity institutions.
Festivities were cancelled from 1937 onwards, due to the Second World War. Finally, in 1948 the local newspaper, “O Torreense”, called for the carnival to be revitalised. Annual processions were once again organised, but on an irregular and often precarious basis.
In 1985, a new period commenced in the history of the Torres Vedras carnival. An organisational committee was created, with support from the municipal council, that annually defined a theme for the carnival decorations.