The countdown to the 5th annual Walking Festival Ameixial (WFA) has begun, promising many new features. On April 28, 29, 30 and May 01, the village of Ameixial once again hosts one of Portugal’s leading events dedicated to walking, an event which in 2016 welcomed around 500 participants from across the country and abroad.
In 2017 the WFA assumes a new identity, as the Algarve Walking Festival, expanding into other parts of the region, including Salir, Querença, Alportel and Monchique. This year the festival once again features a host of activities, including the usual walks and workshops, and also talks, an international conference, music and collective dance, exhibitions, artistic activities, local culinary tastings, a programme of activities for families, a market, and much more.
More than 40 walks will take place, which, in addition to the usual routes through Ameixial, Azinhal dos Mouros, Revezes and Corte D’Ouro, will also include many special, themed, family walks, highlights of which include the ‘Vascão’ walk, inclusive walks for people with special needs and walks with locals from Ameixial, among others.
The subject of the misteriosa escrita do Sudoeste, an ancient type of script yet to be deciphered found in the hills separating the Alentejo from the Algarve, is still an important part of this event, which strives once again to promote this mountainous region known as the Serra do Caldeirão and its potential in terms of nature and cultural tourism, while ensuring direct financial return to the local economy and providing a national benchmark for this kind of activities.
The 5th edition of the Walking Festival Ameixial will also focus on its environmental sustainability, while reducing the event’s ecological footprint, thanks to partnerships that have been forged. With state-owned railway company CP (Comboios de Portugal), offering discounts on train fares to Loulé station, from which transport will then be available to Loulé itself and from there on to Ameixial. The aim here is to encourage the use of collective transport and reduce the event’s ecological footprint. Another partnership is with the local water board, Águas do Algarve, which will promote a campaign for eliminating the use of plastic.
A reforestation activity is also planned for after the event, in autumn, to compensate for carbon emissions made during the festival.
Another new feature in 2017 is major improvements to accommodation facilities in Ameixial. As part of the partnership with the company "Sleep em All" 40 ‘glamping’ tents will be erected in the village, to offer greater comfort to the hundreds of participants expected. Parallel to this, efforts will be made to increase the choice of local food through existing establishments and in social moments.
The 5th Walking Festival Ameixial will grow significantly in 2017, while also striving to boost its international profile. With this in mind, the event is now twinned with the Gran Canaria Walking Festival (http://www.grancanariawalkingfestival.com/en/), a sibling event with which several joint promotion and dissemination activities are planned.
The WFA (https://www.facebook.com/WFAmeixial/) is a non profit event, promoted by QRER – Cooperativa para o Desenvolvimento dos Territórios de Baixa Densidade [QRER – Cooperative for the Development of Low Density Territories] in partnership with Loulé Municipal Council and Ameixial Parish Council, and enjoys the support of the Algarve Tourist Board, Comboios de Portugal (CP), Águas do Algarve, the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC), Ameixial Sports Group, Loule Municipal Museum, and of Sul Informação newspaper, Ana Aeroportos and IPDJ, among others. The event is organised by Proactivetur and by ‘Projecto ESTELA’, which since its outset, have been the main driving forces behind this initiative.
You can register to take part in the 5th Walking Festival Ameixial from February 19, on the festival’s website www.wfameixial.com, paying a symbolic entry fee of just €5, which will go to environmental and logistical support activities.