St. John is Porto’s largest saint’s festival and takes place on the evening of the 23rd of June, carrying over to the 24th of June. It is a celebration for Porto’s patron saint, São João, and also a local bank holiday.
Portuguese people of all ages but more and more tourists love this celebration featured by lauching hot hair balloons into the sky, hitting plastic hammers on the heads of passers-by, waving garlic in people’s faces and offering friends and relatives potted basil plants decorated with traditional poems.
Crowds of people come out onto the streets. In the “Baixa” sellers sell traditional basil plants, carnations, lemon verbena, “leeks” and plastic hammers. Groups of neighbours and friends set bonfires in the streets and prove their bravery by jumping right over the top of them.
People eat “caldo verde” soup with cornbread, mutton, lamb or grilled sardines, and pepper salad.
In several points of the city, alive music shows take place all night long.
St. John’s eve culminates with a huge firework exhibition on the river.
On the 24th of June the traditional regatta of “Rabelo” boats rund over a 1.5 km course from Foz do Douto to the Luís I Bridge.