World's Largest Portuguese Feast - New Bedford Ma
1) I’m all set and ready to go to the Feast. What address do I enter into my GPS?
That’s easy! 88 Tinkham St, New Bedford, Mass. The marker will show in the middle of the main Feast grounds.
2) Where do I park?
Now, that’s a tough one. The Feast has a designated parking area off of Bellevue Ave. The Madeira grounds is located in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood. For free parking, your best bet is to scour the streets around the feast, or find some enterprising home owner who has turned his yard into a parking lot. Depending on how close, expect to pay $5 to $10.
3) What should I do when I get there?
If you intended to drink an alcoholic beverage while at the Feast, find one of the many “WRISTBAND” booths scattered around the grounds. Have your valid driver’s license ready to be scanned. The machine will issue a colored wrist band (they are different colors every day) with your name and the last four digits of your license number. The volunteer will place it on your wrist and you’re ready to go. There is no charge for the wristband, and you MUST wear it to consume any alcoholic beverage. This is a very strict rule.
4) What’s next?
Tickets. The Feast operates on a cashless system, which means you must buy tickets ($1 each) to buy any food or drink. We would like to give it away, but the Treasurer keeps reminding us that we donate our profits to charity. We do NOT permit visitors to enter or leave the Feast grounds with any beverage or coolers of any kind. Tickets may be purchased from a dozen ticket machines located throughout the grounds and also at some of Wristband stands. Just look for the large TICKETS signs.
5) Will there be entertainment?
YES! The giant main stage can’t be missed and Stage #2 is at the end of the field. Stage #3 is just outside the Feast grounds near the entrance to the carnival. We suggest you print out an entertainment schedule that can be found
on this website and use that as your guide. Just walking around can be its own entertainment. Expect the ground to get crowded as the evening progresses. If you don’t like crowds, come early or visit on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Plus, the Museum of Madeiran Heritage will have the Courtyard Café open- it’s a quiet oasis with soft Portuguese music and delicious desserts, espresso, cappuccino and fine wines. In the late afternoon and evening there is live entertainment including authentic Fado singers . . . plus the Museum is open and FREE to tour. Incidentally, all venues at the Feast have nearby rest rooms that are handicap accessible.
6) At some point, we will be hungry. What’s the food like?
Wow! Bonus points for this question. The Feast offers everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to full dinners (see the food section on this website). The various food stands (called baraccas) sell linguica, cacoila, bifana (pork), and steak sandwiches. These are favorites for all feast goers. For the ultimate in Madeiran Portuguese cooking, try the Carne d’Espeto barbecue pit. Rent a steel skewer, buy a pound or more of sirloin steak cubes, combine the two, add special seasoned salt and cook your own beef over the glowing coals in a 40’ long pit. Small Portuguese breads called “pops” are cheap and make a delicious sandwich. Mix in a soft drink or an ice cold beer and you will be one happy customer.
7) Are there souvenirs I can buy to bring home?
For sure. The Feast imports a variety of hats, Madeiran handcraft, and even Madeiran cookbook for the annual event. The souvenir stand is located in the middle of the grounds and is well marked. In addition, there are street vendors selling more traditional fair and festival souvenirs located on the streets surrounding the Feast grounds.
8) What is there to do for our kids?
The carnival, normally located next to the Feast grounds will not be operating this year. The school yard is the site of a new building and the old one will be torn down over the winter. The Carnival will be back for 2017!
On Saturday afternoons, special entertainment is brought in for the children: jugglers, clowns, magicians, puppeteers and many more. Hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks are HALF PRICE on Saturday Afternoon for children (12 and under until 4:00 PM).
9) Are there any other things we should not miss?
YES! At 10:00 AM on Saturday morning, the Feast sponsors a 5K road race that starts one block east of the grounds (over 600 runners usually participate in 2011). Our “Mother Church” . . . The Church of the Immaculate Conception is decorated inside and out with fresh laurel and flowers and concerts are held every night of the Feast. Saturday afternoon is also “Senior Day” – all seniors are offered a 50% discount on the cost of dinners in the main pavilion (from Noon until 4:00 PM). The award winning Folkloric Dancers perform daily during the 4 days of the Feast. Their special interpretation of the historic dances of Madeira is not to be missed. They personify true Madeiran culture in dance. Madeira exports thousands of gallons of sweet Madeiran wine all over the world every year . . . all in bottles for quality control. By a special ruling of the Madeiran Parliament, the Feast is allowed to import the wine in giant oak casks. The fortifies Malmsey port wine is exceptional and no visit to the Feast would be complete without a toast of Madeira wine. The final day of the Feast is “Parade Day” with the largest and longest parade in New Bedford stepping off from Brooklawn Park at 2:00 PM on Acushnet Avenue about a mile away. The parade route is lined with families watching marching bands, beauty queens, military groups, and even Cydesdale horses.
10) How much does it cost to go to the Feast?
The Feast is the last major festival event in New England that is FREE. There is no admission charge at all, and there never will be. The Feast is sponsored by the Club Madeirense S.S. Sacramento whose motto is “Help us so that we may help others”. After costs are covered, our profits are generously donated to local and regional charities. It is operated completely by volunteers and no one is paid.
11) Still have a question?
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