The Portuguese Festival 2023 is set to wow the citizens of Johannesburg and its surrounds. This time the venue is the Nasrec Expo Centre. This cultural event will revive the proud decades-old tradition that was established at Wemmer Pan, which is now closed to the public due to environmental concerns.

Organiser Paulo Calisto promises the three-day festival will encapsulate all that is best in the South African Portuguese culture, and also introduce some diversity with regards to the entertainment. The showcase kicks off at 10am on Friday, 26 May and runs to 10pm on Sunday, 28 May.

Mi Casa band
The Mi Casa band

Portuguese music and dance

Traditional Portuguese music and dance will be the centrepiece of the festival, while some top-class musical acts from a range of cultures and musical genres will feature throughout the three days.

Portuguese cuisine is naturally going to be a key attraction at the festival, and here Calisto will be drawing on the culinary expertise that is part of his culture, having grown up in the very same family that has established one of the best-known Portuguese restaurants in the country. Portuguese culinary delights in South Africa were introduced here many decades ago, notably in the form of peri-peri chicken, from what was then known as Lourenco Marques.

The LM (Lourenco Marques) cooking methods typically involve lots of garlic, tomatoes, onions, coriander and white wine. The wildly popular Prego rolls are sure to be on offer in their thousands, at Nasrec, as well as Portuguese-prepared prawns, calamari and other sea food. Portuguese bread is also unique in its texture and tastiness, and for a subtle desert, nothing beats a pasteis de nata, a Portuguese milk-tart pastry.

Joao Quintino Portuguese Festival Nasrec
Joao Quintino

Adoro Portugal

Headlining the entertainment will be renowned balladeer Joao Quintino. Perhaps most famous for the hits Queres Tu e Quero Eu and Adoro Portugal, Quintino and his traditional band have released a number of albums internationally. Other hugely popular Portuguese artists that will appear include the soulful Diana de Sousa, Miguel Pregueiro and Ana de Abreu.

Representing a broader spectrum of South African musical will be Kurt Darren, Jack Parrow, Mi Casa, Choppa and DJ Crazy G.

Live music begins at 3pm on the Friday, while on Saturday and Sunday the music starts at 9am. The final musical sets are scheduled to end each evening just before the show closes at 10pm.

“We are extremely proud of the musical line-up we have put together for the 2023 Portuguese Festival,” says Paolo Calisto. “We have obviously catered for Portuguese tastes in our set lists, but we represent a whole range of musical genres on each of the show days. I advise any music fan who wants to see a particular artist to visit our website or Facebook page and see which artists are appearing on a particular day, as the set lists will be different.

“Obviously Sunday will be the big day as far as the musical line-up is concerned, when we will be rolling out our heavy musical hitters.”

Miguel Pregueiro
Miguel Pregueiro

Dancers in traditional costume

Another huge attraction will be traditional Portuguese dances, performed by dancers in full traditional costume.

Calisto points out that while the focus on the festival will be very much on food, drink and live entertainment, there will be a number of other attractions at The Portuguese Festival 2023. One of these will be drifting on the Nasrec skid pan, where show-goers will be able to ride as passengers in bellowing, tyre-shredding V8 drift cars.

“We have run drifting events at our car shows for the past decade and people are always blown away by how exciting it is to be driven sideways, right on the edge of control, in a V8 monster.”

There will be a large flea market section, with many fine goods on sale from stall holders.

Other big attractions will be helicopter flips, and for younger children there will be plenty of entertainment, including a play area and a mini funfair.

Portuguese Festival tickets are R120 for adults and R80 for children under 14. Secure parking will be available at the Nasrec Expo Centre at R30. Get tickets at Computicket, or at the gates.

What: Portuguese Festival 2023
When: 26 – 28 May 2023
Where: Nasrec Expo Centre, Nasrec, Johannesburg
Info: here.