Caretos de Podence and Entrudo Chocalheiro 2024 in Portugal

Caretos de Podence.
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2024-02-08

Are you looking for practical information about the Caretos of Podence and the Entrudo Chocalheiro of Trás-os-Montes? Then you are in the right place! The event runs from February 10th to 13th, 2024, and promises to cheer up anyone traveling to Podence.

The Entrudo Chocalheiro de Podence is considered the most genuine Carnival in Portugal, therefore, every year Carnival enthusiasts and onlookers head to this village to witness the peculiar event.

Attesting to the importance of Caretos de Podence is the inclusion of Entrudo Chocalheiro in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, since December 12, 2019.

It is believed that the caretos tradition has prehistoric Celtic origins, and the Associação Grupo de Caretos de Podence is the guardian of these ancestral customs.

Diabolic figures take to the streets with specific costumes to celebrate the devilish Carnival and although traditionally, only boys can wear the caretos costume, today the rules are not so strict.

While the program for 2024 is not yet available, I’ve included details from the 2023 festivities.

Additionally, I offer recommendations for accommodation, ensuring readers are well-prepared to immerse themselves in this unique cultural experience.

Rest assured that I will promptly update the article with the latest information once the 2024 program becomes available. Stay tuned for an enriching and informative guide to the Caretos’ celebration!

The celebration lasts several days, so it’s a good idea to book a hotel in Podence. So, will you join me on this devilish journey?

What are Caretos de Podence?

Entrudo Chocalheiro: Património Cultural Imaterial da Humanidade pela UNESCO.
Entrudo Chocalheiro: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Caretos de Podence are traditional masks used during Carnival celebrations in the town of Podence, Portugal.

These masks are usually made of tin, but can also be made of wood or leather, and feature distinctive and colorful designs. They are worn by men and women dressed in traditional costume, and are often accompanied by lively music and dancing.

In addition, the costume also includes sticks that the caretos carry in their hands and rattles attached to their waists.

The Caretos de Podence are a significant part of the village’s cultural heritage, with the annual Shrovetide festivities being a major event that begins to be prepared months in advance.

Caretos de Podence 2024 program will be added asap. Here’s 2023 program

Caretos em Podence, com a Barragem do Azibo no horizonte.
Caretos in Podence, with the Azibo dam on the horizon.

As I mentioned, the Entrudo Chocalheiro festivities in 2023 start on the 18th of February and extend until the 21st of February.

Then follows the program with the main activities taking place, so that you can organize your visit in order to better take advantage of Caretos de Podence in 2023.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

9 am: Walk from Casa do Careto. Mandatory registration by email geral@naturthoughts.com or mobile phone 939 663 142 (until February 16th).

10:30 am: Traditional market.

1pm: Regional lunch at the village taverns.

15h: Cruise in Albufeira do Azibo. Mandatory registration by email geral@sunazibo.com or mobile phone 917 738 892.

3pm: Street animation.

3:30 pm: Facanitos à Solta.

7.30 pm: Gastronomic night in the village taverns.

9 pm: Rattling night.

21:30: Night parade in the streets of Macedo de Cavaleiros.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Almoço nas tabernas da aldeia.
Lunch at the village taverns.

9am: MTB ride.

9:30 am: Hiking the Careto Trail.

9:30 am: Cruise in Albufeira do Azibo. Mandatory registration by email geral@sunazibo.com or mobile phone 917 738 892.

10 am: Traditional market.

1pm: Fat Sunday Lunch (Domingo Gordo).

3pm: Street animation.

3:30 pm: Caretos à solta.

4 pm: Inauguration of the photography exhibition “Chocalhadas”, by Rui Miguel Pedrosa.

4:30 pm: Presentation of the digital game “Careto”, by Matilde Albuquerque.

8 pm: Gastronomic night.

21:30: Roda das tabernas.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Casa do Careto.
Casa do Careto.

9:30 am: Walk “Trilho do Chocalho”, meeting at Casa do Careto. Mandatory registration by email cibotrasosmontes@gmail.com or mobile phone 919 855 570 (until February 16th).

9:30 am: Visit to Terras de Cavaleiro Geopark Territory. Meeting at Casa do Careto, mandatory registration by email turismo@geoparkterradecavaleiros.com or phone 278 099 166 (until February 16th).

11:30 am: Experience paint your mask. Mandatory registration caretopodence@gmail.com (until February 15th).

12:30: Regional lunch at the village taverns.

1pm: Fire in the Pan at the Firemen’s Tavern.

2 pm: Visit to the Terras de Cavaleiro Geopark Territory. Meeting at Casa do Careto, mandatory registration by email turismo@geoparkterradecavaleiros.com or phone 278 099 166 (until February 16th).

2:30 pm: Traditional market.

15h: Cruise in Albufeira do Azibo. Mandatory registration by email geral@sunazibo.com or mobile phone 917 738 892.

3:30 pm: Roda das Tabernas.

4 pm: Ser Careto experience. Meeting at Casa do Careto with mandatory registration by email caretopodence@gmail.com (until February 15th).

7.30 pm: Gastronomic night in the town’s taverns.

21:30: Matchmaking Preach in Largo da Igreja.

10 pm: Magic Mask Night with enigmatic parade.

11 pm: Evening animation.

Shrovetide Tuesday, February 21, 2023

9:30 am: Cruise in Albufeira do Azibo. Mandatory registration by email geral@sunazibo.com or mobile phone 917 738 892.

10 am: Traditional market.

11:30 am: Paint Your Mask Experience. Meeting at Casa do Careto with mandatory registration caretopodence@gmail.com (until February 15th).

1pm: Carnival lunch at the village taverns

3pm: Street animation.

3:30 pm: Caretos à solta.

4pm: Parade of Marafonas.

5:30 pm: Burning procession. Meeting at Largo da Igreja.

6 pm: Carnival burning at Eira do Careto.

*Information taken from the Entrudo Chocalheiro website.

What is the origin of Caretos de Podence?

Entrudo Chocalheiro.
Entrudo Chocalheiro.

As I mentioned, the Caretos de Podence are a popular Portuguese tradition that has ancient roots and deep-rooted in the culture of the Trás-os-Montes region, in particular, in the village of Podence. While there is no consensus on the exact origin of the Caretos, they are believed to have been influenced by several ancient cultures, including Celts, Romans, and Moors.

The Caretos are colorful and frightening masks used by men and women who parade through the streets of the villages during the Entrudo revelry, that is, Carnival.

They dance shaking the bells they wear around their waists, scaring people away and, finally, protecting them from evil spirits. The tradition of the Caretos de Podence has been handed down from generation to generation and is still alive today.

Some theories suggest that the Caretos have pagan roots and go back to the cult of Celtic fertility gods. Others believe that they were influenced by Roman masking rituals, while still others argue that the Caretos tradition was influenced by the ancient Islamic rituals of the Moors.

Regardless of their roots, the Caretos de Podence are today a symbol of identity for the Trás-os-Montes region and a tradition that is strongly defended by local residents.

Anyway, they are an important part of Portuguese popular culture and attract tourists from all over the world who want to witness this vibrant and unique tradition.

What do Caretos do?

Caretos à solta.
Caretos à solta.

In addition to dancing and rattling (that is, shaking rattles) through the streets of villages, protecting people from evil spirits, Caretos also have another interesting function.

It’s just that the boys, safeguarded by the anonymity of the mask, go after the marriageable girls, attracting their attention and dancing with them.

It’s a naughty tradition, but nobody takes it the wrong way.

This tradition is seen as a way to honor the region’s young and beautiful women, but it’s also a fun way to express love and desire for them.

However, the tradition is completely respectful and there is no pressure or obligation for girls to dance with the Caretos.

What is the home of the Caretos?

Eira do Careto e baloiço.
Eira do Careto and swing.

The home of the Caretos is the region of Trás-os-Montes, located in the North of Portugal.

It is a region rich in history and traditions, and the Caretos are one of those popular traditions that continue to be celebrated to this day.

In fact, the Shrovetide Chocalheiro de Podence was distinguished as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Where to buy the Careto costume?

Traje infantil.
Children’s costume.

Careto costumes can be purchased in stores specializing in traditional costumes in Portugal, especially in the Trás-os-Montes region where the Caretos tradition is more usual.

Some towns like Podence, Macedo de Cavaleiros and Mirandela have shops selling Careto costumes all year round.

It is also possible to buy Careto suits online, however it is important to check the quality of the material before buying, as some suits may not be very durable.

In addition, some Caretos associations in Trás-os-Montes also offer the option of renting costumes for those who wish to experience the tradition without having to buy their own costume.

Where is Podence located?

Podence is a village located in the district of Macedo de Cavaleiros, that is, in the North of Portugal.

It is known for its Caretos tradition and is located in the Trás-os-Montes region, that is, about 178 km from Porto and 33 km from Bragança.

Accommodation in Podence

Since there are four days of festivities in Podence, and with different activities, it makes sense to spend the night there.

Thus, in the village there is only one local accommodation, which is Joaquim do Norte and which has free wi-fi and breakfast.

But just over 1 km from the village there are more accommodations, such as the Hotel Azibo e Restaurante (2 stars) which has the advantage of being close to the Azibo Dam.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind paying a little more, I think you’ll be fine at Monte Bela Vista, which also overlooks Lake da Barragem do Azibo.

Also, if you like or want to try Glamping, I suggest you take a look at Monte do Azibo Glamping.

If none of these accommodations suit you, or if they are sold out, you can always stay a little further away, for example, in Macedo de Cavaleiros.

Hotels in Macedo de Cavaleiros.

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