São João Party!
The festivities have been held in the city for more than six centuries, yet it was during the 19th century that Saint John's day became impregnated in the city's culture and assumed the status of the city's most important festival. An interesting tradition among the people of Porto during the 'Festa de São João', with roots in pagan courtship rituals, is to hit each other either with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers.
On the evening of the 23rd of June, we celebrate the city’s patron, São João, with a massive street party! Over 500,000 people come out to the streets of the city to watch the fireworks being launched from the river Douro, to dance on Aliados Avenue, to eat sardines, to drink some wine and to hang out with friends until the break of dawn! It’s the biggest party of the city, and you can already feel it and smell it the air! Throughout the city there are small colored flags being hanged on the streets and main squares, little vases of basil are placed in windowsills and sardines are grilled in front of houses and restaurants. All this is the build up to an explosion of colors and scents that will reach their peak on the evening of the 23rd of June.
During that night, a flood of happy people will invade the city to the sound of hundreds of thousands plastic hammers and the scent of aromatic herbs (basil, leek, citronella). They come to be amazed by the bright colors of the hundreds of small hot air balloons and fireworks, which set the mood for a night of celebration!
The hammer of S. João was invented in 1963 by Manuel António Boaventura, an industrialist of Plastics of Porto, who took the idea in a salt / pepper potter who saw in one of his trips abroad. The salt and pepper set had the appearance of a bellows to which it added a whistle and a cable to incorporate everything in the same set and giving it the shape of a hammer. The original aim was to create yet another toy to add to his offer range.
That same year the students approached Mr. Boaventura with the intention of being offered to burn the tapes a "noisy toy", to which Mr. Boaventura acceded offering what noisier had, the hammers. The burning of the tapes was a success with the students hammering all day in each other and soon the merchants of Porto wanted hammers for the feast of St. John.
There aren’t enough words to accurately explain how amazing this night is and how big it is for us, so come experience it and let us give you a preview of our food tour!
In June 2004, a journalist from The Guardian commented that "Porto's Festa de São João is one of Europe's liveliest street festivals, yet it is relatively unknown outside the country".