The 10 Best Music Festivals in Portugal
Despite being a small country with a population of 10.3 million, Portugal has one of the best and most diverse selections of music festivals around. Boom Festival, NOS Alive, Paredes de Coura Festival, and NOS Primavera Sound are just some of the best.
Portugal is one of the trendiest tourist destinations in Europe because of its great food, beautiful beaches, and impressive historic landmarks. But there’s plenty more to do at Spain’s often-forgotten neighbor, especially if you happen to love music.
Below, you can find the 10 best music festivals in Portugal. Of course, this list partially reflects my personal opinion, but regardless, you will not be disappointed with the quality of these festivals!
1. Boom Festival
Idanha-a-Nova, Castelo Branco
When: July or August (seven days)
A celebration synchronized to the full moon, Boom Festival has been attracting thousands of festivalgoers to the remote Central Portugal municipality of Idanha-a-Nova since 1997. More than an event for fans of electronic dance music (and trance music in particular), Boom Festival is known for its intricate art installations, beautiful venues, and positive vibe.
Any Portuguese music fan knows Boom Festival is the place to be, but the festival has already gathered people from up to 147 countries. With a focus on sustainability, Boom Festival tops the list of the best music festivals in Portugal because it’s more than just a music event: it’s a life-changing experience, the kind of place you have to go back to after visiting once.
2. NOS Alive
When: July (three days)
Sponsored by the telecommunications company NOS, NOS Alive is arguably the biggest music festival in Portugal for fans of rock music. The event takes place in sunny Algés, Oeiras, in the Lisbon metropolitan area, and repeatedly features major pop and rock acts in its lineup.
If you’re looking for a music festival that’s perfect for people of all ages and should satisfy every type of music fan, look no further: NOS Alive has got you covered. With special stages dedicated to stand-up comedy and fado music, NOS Alive is also the perfect opportunity to get to know the charming city of Lisbon.
3. Paredes de Coura Festival
Paredes de Coura
When: August (four days + one extra free day)
Today, it’s almost impossible to think of the little municipality of Paredes de Coura, in northern Portugal, without thinking of the Paredes de Coura Festival. The music event has been putting the small town on the map since 1993 and is widely regarded as one of the best rock-festival experiences in Portugal.
The line-up is carefully selected to please a crowd of old-school rockers, indie lovers, hipsters, and, more recently, even hip-hop and trap music fans. In sum, Paredes de Coura Festival is both cohesive and eclectic, never compromising on quality despite taking risks. The best part? You get to watch great up-and-coming music acts next to the beautiful Taboão Beach.
4. NOS Primavera Sound
When: June (three days)
The citizens of Porto (Portugal’s second-largest city) know that when June comes, it’s time to go to the city’s natural park to listen to some great music. The Primavera Sound festival started in Barcelona but has traveled to Porto every June (and once in May) since 2012. It attracts thousands of people annually and it’s all about the bands.
Over the years, NOS Primavera Sound has enlisted the services of some of the world’s biggest music acts from the rock, electronic, hip-hop, and pop universes. A bonafide city festival, Primavera Sound is the perfect opener for the summer-festival season in Portugal and is often described as being the Portuguese music festival with the best lineup.
5. Neopop Festival
Viana do Castelo
When: August (three days)
Do you enjoy electronic dance music? The guys at the Neopop Festival, in Viana do Castelo, have been carefully curating the best DJs in the world and putting them together in one single place for close to two decades. Neopop Festival isn’t for everyone; but if you like to dance all night long to the sickest techno, house, and hardcore acts around, then it’s the best Portugal has to offer.
While Portugal is a country of electronic dance music lovers, the Neopop Festival continues to be a niche experience, away from the rock-festival mainstream circuit. That’s not to say it doesn’t attract thousands of people annually; it’s just that they’re all die-hard ravers…
6. MEO Sudoeste
Odemira, Beja (Alentejo)
When: August (five days)
For the most part, the small town of Odemira, in Beja, is very peaceful. But every August since 1997, the place has been filled with music-loving youngsters ready to party. Despite being a classic Portuguese music festival, MEO Sudoeste is particularly beloved by 16 to 20-year-olds, meaning it’s the perfect place to go if you’re a teenager looking for an adventure in Portugal.
To please its fanbase of party-eager youngsters, MEO Sudoeste often enlists top acts from the pop and EDM universes that never fail to make the crowd jump. Sponsored by MEO (the other major telecommunications company in Portugal), the festival is also a great excuse for getting to know the beautiful region of Alentejo.
7. Rock in Rio Lisboa
When: June (four days—two consecutive weekends)
If this selection of Portuguese music festivals was based on popularity alone, Rock in Rio Lisboa would sit at the top of the list. Held in Lisbon’s city center since 2004, this major music event was inspired by the original Rock in Rio (in Rio de Janeiro) and has attracted up to 1.38 million people to Bela Vista Park.
A bit too mainstream to the tastes of most alt-rock Portuguese lovers, Rock in Rio Lisboa has the particularity of being the perfect family festival. It’s not presumptuous, it’s not niche, and it’s not unique – but it truly is a music festival for everyone. You can always expect to see some huge world-class superstars in the lineup as well.
8. Festival Músicas do Mundo (FMM Sines)
When: July (eight to 10 days)
Also known as FMM Sines, the Festival Músicas do Mundo (World Music Festival in English) is one of the most special musical experiences you can find in Portugal. The lineup is made of the best world-music acts around, and it’s as all-embracing as the term “world music” itself. Active for more than two decades, FMM Sines is known not only for the music but for its amazing beach (sitting right next to one of the stages) and laidback vibe.
What should you expect at FMM Sines? Lots of great music, lots of great people, lots of nature-loving hippies, and even some impromptu live shows and afterparties that were never part of the festival’s program. With good reason, it was once called “the festival of joy” by the Grammy Award-winning singer Oumou Sangaré.
9. Bons Sons Festival
Cem Soldos, Tomar
When: August (four days)
No, the Bons Sons Festival (Good Sounds Festival in English) isn’t one of the 10 largest music festivals in Portugal. However, it’s a well-kept secret that makes for the most Portuguese music experience you will ever have. For one, the lineup is entirely made up of both established and emerging Portuguese music acts. But there’s more…
What’s special about Bons Sons Festival is that it takes place inside the traditional Portuguese village of Cem Soldos, in Tomar. The village is closed when the festival starts, meaning that the festivalgoers are “forced” to interact with the residents. It’s this combination of old and new, traditional and progressive, that arguably makes Bons Sons the best small music festival in Portugal.
10. SWR Barroselas Metalfest
Barroselas, Viana do Castelo
When: April (four days)
While most festival lovers anxiously wait all year for the arrival of the summer, Portuguese metalheads only have to sit tight until April. It’s then that the iconic SWR Barroselas Metalfest takes place. While it’s not the biggest metal music festival in Portugal (an honor that belongs to Vagos Metal Fest), it’s surely the most special.
Organized by the same dedicated team for over two decades, the SWR Barroselas Metalfest is often referred to as “the Christmas of the metalheads.” Despite being a niche event, this northern-Portugal classic has already brought some of the world’s top cult death and black-metal bands to the small village of Barroselas. It’s for metal fans only, but it’s worth a visit.
It’s crazy how many great music festivals there are in Portugal! I tried to select the 10 best while ensuring some diversity, but I feel like I have to add a few honorable mentions…
In the style of NOS Alive, Lisbon’s Super Bock Super Rock is a great event. For a big alternative to the Neopop Festival, you should try the smaller but idyllic Basilar Festival. For reggae, hip-hop, and reggaetón fans, there’s the Sumol Summer Fest; for African music fans, there’s Afro Nation.
For the best music festivals in the world (not just in Portugal), click here.