Unlike in the UK, but similar to many other European countries, the Portuguese celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24 th December and Christmas Day is far quieter – more like our Boxing Day. On the 24 th December, it is traditional for all the generation of a family to share a late evening meal and eat Bacalhau (codfish), followed by their Christmas cake called Bolo Rei or King cake.
This festive family meal starts and finishes late and then traditionally all family members attend midnight Mass. Christmas presents are exchanged either at midnight or after the service, and children get to stay up very late.
Christmas Day is far quieter and more relaxing, rather like our Boxing Day, but people will attend church during the day.
From around the 22 nd December until the 2 nd January, the Algarve celebrates Christmas and the New Year across many of its larger resort towns. Albufeira host the largest New Year’s party in Southern Portugal with a firework display and open-air theatre.
Although not boasting Caribbean like temperatures, the weather will bring some clear, bright sunny days as well as some cooler cloudier ones, but on average there are only 10 rainy days in December, and day-time temperatures will be around 16 to 18 degrees. At night-time, it rarely dips below 5 degrees and can stay up to 10 degrees.
The larger towns of Vilamoura, Praia da Rocha, Albufeira and Lagos are all home to a large population of ex-pats and offer the best Christmas and New Year experience as many of the restaurants and bars remain open during the festive season.