Everyone knows the Algarve loves a festa, and Christmas is no exception. There are few cities, towns or villages that don’t drape themselves in lights and host a traditonal Christmas market, but here are some of the big ones…

Vale do Lobo
When: 2 and 3 December
Time: 10h00–17h30

Kicking off the festive season, with free entry to residents and the public, this 13th edition of the Christmas Market hopes to set a record of exhibitors and visitors.

According to the marketing team it is designed with families in mind and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

On offer will be numerous local exhibitors offering a wide range of products, including wines, gourmet food, crafts, ceramics, paintings, fashion, jewellery, beauty products, sweets, regional produce, flowers, toys and more.

Algarve Fine Food will be on hand over both days, serving delicious meals, hot snacks and refreshments.

In addition, a delightful entertainment programme has been created for children to complement the market areas, including Christmas music and various children’s entertainment activities.

Best of all, funds raised from the event go the Wolf Valley Charity Fund, which for 25 years has been helping local charities in the area, such as cancer prevention by early diagnosis (Associação Oncológica do Algarve): mental health awareness (Associação de Saúde Mental do Algarve) and the Hope and Peace Association.
Making sure the market is suitable for all weather conditions, it takes place across the Parque do Golfe complex, Vale do Lobo Auditorium and the gardens.

Quinta do Lago
When: 2 December
Time: 16:00–20:00

Dishing up ‘the festive feels’, the market coincides with the big Christmas Lights Switch On event, where the giant Christmas tree will light up the evening sky in the plaza at The Campus for the first time.

Marketing Manager Joana Serra says the various stalls will offer mostly traditional handcrafts and treats.

“So, expect candles and soaps, along with flowers and breads,” she said. “Besides the traditional Portuguese drinks like Ginjinha, there will also be mulled wine and hot chocolate and the normal offer at our family-friendly, barn-inspired Dano’s Sports Bar & Restaurant. Our DJ will play favourite Christmas tunes and there will be entertainment for the children.”

Everyone is welcome, but if you plan to eat at Dano’s to book ahead.

São Brás de Alportel
When: 2 December
Time: 15:00–23:00

This charming town launches its Christmas calendar with Red Night and a festive Christmas market. Most of the action takes place in Largo de São Sebastião, and the main commercial arteries of the village.

“All around there will be stalls selling local handicrafts and regional sweets,” says the municipality’s Rita Luis. “During my visit to this market last year, I snapped up some beautiful aromatic Christmas candles, delicate soaps, some great home-made tableware, Christmas decorations and children’s toys and clothes”.

“Red Night was started by the municipality a few years ago to promote local commerce, and, in this sense, purchases made at participating establishments allow customers to qualify for prizes and vouchers for purchases at the Municipal Market, participating stores and restaurants,” said Rita.
To add to the fun, the Santa Claus Arrival Party starts on the main stage at 15:00, followed by enterainment by various singers and groups from 17:00–23:00.

Loulé Criativo
Palácio Gama Lobo
When: 9–23 December
Time: 10:00–18:00

Around 35 artisans/designers representing the Loulé Criativo community will be showing their wares at the Christmas Bazaar. You’ll find beautiful locally-produced collections that include jewellery, ceramics, bookbinding, copper pieces, wood and many more. Do not miss out on some brilliant original works that have a story to tell and will be passed on in the years ahead. These are items to keep and love – and not just for Christmas.

ACCA The Algarve Tennis and Fitness Club, Almancil.
When: December 9
Time: 11:00–17:00

Another Christmas market supporting a worthy cause, the children’s charity ACCA is pulling out all the stops to create a fun-filled and festive day.

According to organiser, ACCA President Wanda Crawford, the market is one of the oldest in the Algarve, which adds to its festive spirit.“We’ve built up a wonderful following over the 18 years we’ve been running the market,” she says. “I’m originally from America and when I got homesick, one of the things I missed most was the Christmas markets, so I decided to start one here.”

Wanda promises there will be lots on offer, from artisan foods and fashionable goods to home accessories and artworks.

“We’ll be serving gluhwein, and there will be quality food stalls, Christmas carols and, for the kids, a bouncy castle, face-painting and a visit from Santa at midday, with every child getting a little goodie bag.”

Entrance is free to everyone in the spirit of the ACCA’s ethos to “give back to the community”.

Vila Vita Parc
When: 21 and 22 December
Time: 14:00–17:00
Another of the Algarve’s top resorts hosts their Christmas market around the Piazetta’s stylish boutiques, giving grown-ups the chance to shop for last-minute luxury brands, while the kids get to enjoy painting sessions, magicians and a visit from Santa. PR and Communications Manager Rita do Brito Gonçalves says it’s all about “shopping, eating, drinking and being merry”.

“The V-Life shops include a variety of national and international lifestyle, fashion brands like Etro, Tamara Comolli, whose new collection will be launhed at the market, Mimo (with brands including Camila and Spry), Olhar de Prata, EdJóias and the V-Store, with only Portuguese and local brands,” says Rita.
As far as the refreshment offering, she said there would be stands spread along the Piazetta close to the lake with seasonal delights, local food and wine, gluhwein, cotton candy, sweets and chocolates.

“Live music will set the rhythm of the event, along with Santa’s visit and some fun workshops for the whole family,” she says. “The market is open air and always has a very nice atmosphere. It is a good way to dive into the Christmas spirit and spend some quality time with friends and family, enjoying good food and shopping for high quality products and brands.

Words: Debbie Reynolds

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