From religious processions to riotous parties, you're never far from a festival in Portugal. The Cataplana festival, held in towns across the coast of the Algarve, is one for every foodie's diary. Taking place throughout the month of June, you can join both locals and visitors as they celebrate the Algarve's famed cataplana dish at the ”Festa da Cataplana'.
Algarve's most famous dishPopular with seafood lovers everywhere, the cataplana is a Portuguese culinary classic. Cooked in a shell-shaped dish that's traditionally made of copper, the cataplana is a mouth-watering mix of clams, prawns, chorizo, and fish, which is all cooked in an aromatic stew base of tomatoes and onions. You'll want to order some great bread on the side too, just so you can mop up all the stew's tasty juices. Cataplana is served up in nearly every restaurant in town during the gastronomic festival, and chefs compete to create the most delicious batch.
One-pot cookingAs you explore the festival, you'll see the ingenious cataplana pot in action. It has two domed lids joined by a hinge, which clamp down and seal tight to steam cook the fish dish. The copper construction distributes the heat evenly and gives the cataplana stew that yummy special flavour you're guaranteed to enjoy. Wander around the different restaurants during the festival and you'll find many versions of the cataplana being cooked up. Some restaurants will make it with added ingredients like cod, octopus or even meat. No matter what goes in, all of them are delicious so why not try them all and decide for yourself which one tastes the best?
Entertainment as you eatThe Cataplana festival not only promotes the regional dish, but also aims to encourage the creative art of cooking and support local restaurants too. There's plenty to keep you entertained as you finish your plate, with dancers, live music and craft stalls selling cataplana pots for you to take home. Watch one of the festival's demonstrations on how to use the traditional cataplana cooking pot, and you'll leave with all the culinary skills needed to make your very own Portuguese dish for the family when you're back home.
Held in many Algarve townsThe month-long Cataplana festival is held in many Algarve towns, including Vilamoura and Castro Marim. It also takes place in the busy town of Almancil, which is only a 15-minute drive from Faro airport and 10km from the exclusive resorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago.
More Algarve food festivalsAs well as the Cataplana festival, there are lots of other food festivals worth visiting in the Algarve. In March, you can travel to the mountain town of Monchique, where the Traditional Sausage and Ham Fair takes place
.When you visit the fair, you can taste and buy a range of local produce such as traditional sausages, honey, and black pig dishes. For more seafood, head to the Sardine festival in Portim ão. Held around the second week in August, you can stroll around the festival's craft stalls, enjoying the fresh grilled sardines, dance performances, and fireworks as you go.