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22 March, 2024

Festas de Abril – The Spring of Freedom

This year, the Festas de Abril take on greater prominence and meaning with the commemorations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Carnation Revolution. In Lisbon this momentous event will be remembered and celebrated all around the city: on the street and in various cultural spaces.

The programme of events, which will take place throughout April, will portray 25 April, 1974 through photography, theatre, dance, music, contemporary art and poetry, capturing the past, celebrating the present, but also projecting the future.

The centrepiece will be on the night of 24 April in Terreiro do Paço, where there’ll be a big party promoted by Lisbon City Council and produced by EGEAC.

This celebration will kick off at 22.00 with a video mapping show projected onto the facades of the buildings in Terreiro do Paço, featuring photographs by Alfredo Cunha and music by Rodrigo Leão, in partnership with the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemorative Committee of 25 April.

Next comes the concert Uma Ideia de Futuro (“A Vision of the Future”), which will bring together the Lisbon Sinfonietta Orchestra, the Santo Amaro de Oeiras Choir, the Choir of the Artistic School at the Lisbon Gregorian Institute, and numerous soloists, totalling 180 musicians. Six stories told in the first person, by six young actors, depicting the Portugal of today and showing the path taken to get here, inspire the soundtrack, which is based on songs by José Afonso, José Mário Branco, Sérgio Godinho, Fausto, Adriano Correia de Oliveira, Fernando Lopes Graça, and Carlos Paredes. The stories and songs will be accompanied by projected images.

Created and directed by Luís Varatojo, this show also features a new piece, Abril é Sempre Primavera (April is Always Spring), with lyrics by José Luís Peixoto and music by Luís Varatojo and Filipe Raposo, culminating with a pyro-musical display.

However, the Festas de Abril actually begin this month. From Saturday, 23 March until 26 May, you can visit the EPHEMERA Archive exhibition 10 dias que abalaram Portugal (“The Ten Days that Shook Portugal”) at the Mercado do Forno do Tijolo in Arroios. This initiative, which is part of the Municipal and National Celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of 25 April, bears witness to the beginning of democracy after the Revolution.

The Aljube Museum (a symbolic venue of resistance and freedom) will be opening a new exhibition 25 de Abril, Sempre! (“25 April, Forever!”), which gives us a tour of the different forms of resistance since the 25 April, 1974 right up to the present day. In addition to this, the Museum will be open for two days of celebration (20 and 21 April) with many guest artists, while also providing a tour around iconic locations of the revolution and participating in a podcast, “Thinking about 25 April through the Humanities”.

With a variety of offerings for all ages, most of them free, the Festas de April will be present at other museums, monuments, galleries, theatres and cinemas managed by EGEAC.

On 12 and 13 April, the Teatro do Bairro Alto will be staging Sara Barros Leitão’s play Guião para um País possível (“Script for a possible country”), which was created using records from the Portuguese parliament.

Castelo de São Jorge is inviting everyone to take part in handicraft workshops on 14, 21, 25 and 28 April, with the aim of “Turning the Castle into April”, by building a mural out of paper carnations with messages of freedom

On 18 April, a series of talks on Amália Rodrigues’ legacy of freedom and artistic independence will begin at the Fado Museum, devised and moderated by Miguel Carvalho, author of the book “Amália, Dictatorship and Revolution”.

Songs, words, stories, texts and poems serve as inspiration for two other Festas de Abril offerings. First there’s the show Quis Saber quem sou (“I Wanted to Know Who I Am”), by the Dona Maria II National Theatre, with text and staging by Pedro Penim, which will be on at the Teatro São Luiz from 20 to 28 April. Then there’s Dia do Livro – Noite da Rádio (“Day of the Book – Night of the Radio”), marking World Book Day (23 April) at Casa Fernando Pessoa, which gives voice to radio journalists and reminds us that it was radio that first brought news on the night of 24 to 25 April, 1974.

Also of note is Luisa Cunha – uma obra em seis partes (Luisa Cunha’s “a work in six parts”), a sound piece to be experienced in six spaces: the five Municipal Galleries and the Atelier-Museum Júlio Pomar (19 April to 5 May).

Throughout the month of April there’ll be much more to see, read, listen to, talk about and take part in, such as the Festival Política (Political Festival), which returns to Cinema São Jorge, with Participation this year’s central theme. Then there’s the launch of a publication featuring Júlio Pomar’s works and reflections on 25 April, as well as the Carnation Garden at Galeria Quadrum, which was planted to bloom on 25 April.

The complete programme can be consulted via this link.