Tuesday, July 25, 2017
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Festa dos Tabuleiros Chapter 2

In the second of Hey Portugal's regular articles about next year’s “Festa dos Tabulerios” in Tomar Sylvia and Peter take a look at the planning in preparation of the event. We feature one of Tomar’s recent arrivals and see how he gets involved in the months leading up to the big event in July 2011.

The Festa dos Tabulerios takes place every four years; for ten glorious days Tomar becomes the centre of one of Europe’s most spectacular events. After the excitement is over Tomar settles back into “business as usual”. In April, the year before the Festa begins, the process of pulling together the organisation starts. It commences with a public meeting in Tomar’s Town Hall; everyone present is asked if they want a Festival next July. If they say “Yes” then a chief organiser is elected to start work straight away on planning the following year’s event. The organiser has the title of “Mordomo”, or Butler in English, and has an awesome task ahead.


The Butler’s first job is to appoint a Committee to oversee the different tasks that go into running a successful Festival. According to tradition, the committee members come from established positions such as the Mayor of Tomar, the President of the “Misericordia” the local Charitable Institution, the Parish priest of Tomar and the elected Presidents of the 16 Parish councils of Tomar District. In addition there are sub committees dealing with fund raising, financial management, legal services, marketing etc. It is a big job needing great organisational skills and patience.

In 2007 the man elected as Butler was Mr. João Victal. Widely praised for the way he led the event he was unanimously elected to head up the 2011 Festa. A softly spoken man he is determined to ensure the 2011 event is a huge success. Mr. João Victal has the Festa dosTabuleiros in his blood; his grandfather was one of the people who helped revive the Festa in the 1940’s, after a period of decline and was a musician in many of the parades.

One of the great things about the Festa is the way in which the whole community gets involved. Not just in the organisation but the making of the hundreds of thousands of paper flowers that are used during the Festa period and the Tabulerios or Trays that will be paraded by the 700 ladies through the streets of Tomar on July 10th next year.

One group of people who will be closely involved are the residents and traders in the Historic Streets of Tomar. One trader looking forward to his first Festa is Rene Spits from ‘Just For You’ in Rua Silva Magalhães. Rene, who moved to Tomar this March, hails from Australia via Holland. He has heard about the Festa and the decoration of the streets and is wondering reneinshopwhat is involved. His fellow traders and residents are already thinking about the street decorations that make the Festa such an amazing spectacle. And of course the 600,000 plus people who will throng the streets in July are all potential customers for Tomar’s traders.

Over the coming months we will revisit Rene and see how he is getting on with the preparations for July’s big event.

For the final part of this series click here.

If you missed the first part click here

For a Map of the Route and Parking click here

For an article about Fernado Fereirra who was instrumental in bringing the Tabuleiros Festa to Tomar, click here.


Researched and written by Sylvia Anginotti and Peter Moore

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