Tomar will be full of pageantry and events at the 2023 “Festa dos Tabuleiros” - scheduled to run from July 1 to 10, 20123. The pageantry of the “Festa dos Tabuleiros,” or Festival of Trays, happens every four years.
The “Festa dos Tabuleiros” is unique in the world and it is part of religious traditions that celebrate the Holy Spirit. The highlight is a massive parades with young women carrying a “tabuleiro” on their heads. The tabuleiro must be the height of the woman and is made of 300 pieces of bread with rows decorated with paper flowers. At the top, there’s a crown decorated with a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit or the Cross of Christ.
Along the 2 mile parade route, petals from flowers are thrown to the pairs, quilts decorate windows and everyone is dressed for the occasion, making it a truly unique celebration.
The festival attracts visitors from all over to the former home of the Knights Templar in Tomar.
The Festa dos Trabuleiros will take place in July 2023, but before that, as tradition dictates, the announcement of the feast begins on Easter Sunday, the 9th of April, with the first procession of the Crowns and Banners of the Holy Spirit through the streets of Tomar. There are six more “Coroas” with different routes, the objective of which is to go through all the arteries of the city.
Here is the calendar:
April 9 – Easter Sunday – 1st Departure of Wreaths – Procession of Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
April 16 – Sunday – 2nd Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
April 30 – Sunday – 3rd Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
May 14 – Sunday – 4th Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
May 28 – Pentecost Sunday – 5th Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of the Holy Spirit
June 11 – Sunday – 6th Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
June 18 – Sunday – 7th Departure of Wreaths – Procession of the Wreaths and Banners of Espírito Santo
After this phase, we enter the general program of the Festa dos Trabuleiros:
July 2nd – Sunday – 10:00 am – Parade of the Boys
5th of July – Wednesday – 20:00 – Opening of Ornate Popular Streets
July 7 – Friday – 18:00 – Cortejo do Mordomo
July 8th – Saturday – 10:00 am – Partial Parades of the Boards; 13:00 – Exhibition of Trays; 15:00 – Popular Games
July 9 – Sunday – 9:30 am – Procession of the Crowns and Banners of the Holy Spirit; 16:00 – Parade of the Boards
July 10th – Monday – 10:00 am – Pêza Distribution
The last Festa dos Tabuleiros or Festa do Espírito Santo took place in 2019 . It is one of the largest and oldest in Portugal, andthe Festival that attracts the most visitors in Portugal. It is also considered one of the biggest festivals in the world.
The highlight is the Parade or Procession of the Tabuleiros, which represent the parishes of the town and runs through the streets of Tomar for 2.5 miles, flanked by the festival quilts that the population hung at the window, and the thousands of visitors who come to be dazzled by this show of colors.
Traditionally, the Tabuleiros is carried by a woman dressed in white and is decorated with colored paper flowers, ears of wheat, 30 loaves of 400g each, stuffed into canes that come out of a wicker basket wrapped in a white embroidered cloth.
In addition to the Parade, the Festival is made up of various traditional ceremonies such as the Parade of the Crowns, the Parade of the Boys, the Parade of the Mordomo or the arrival of the Oxen from Espírito Santo, the Partial Parade and the Popular Games.
Decorated Streets are an ancient tradition originating in Tomar, which is now used in other festivals in Portugal. Plus there are the paper flower carpets in the streets of the city. The streets of the historic center and nowadays throughout the city are decorated with flowers, giving color and joy to the Templar city.
The day after the Cortejo, the tradition of Pêza is still maintained, which consists of sharing bread and meat among the populations.