In hommage to the festival season I thought I’d share my recent experience of visting Lisbon for anyone who may want some festival info.
11 days ago I flew to Portugal in time for the Optimus Alive Festival (http://www.optimusalive.com/en) held just outside the capital. At £100 a ticket and with the Stone Roses, Radiohead and The Cure headlining it seemed an irresistible opportunity for combining festival fun with summer sunshine (noticeably absent from Manchester). I rented an apartment with four other friends arriving on Thursday in time for the festival which ran for three nights Friday to Sunday.
I can’t speak for all the apartments in Portugal but ours was really good value ; sleeping up to 6 people (although I would suggest a limit of 5) it was clean, beautifully furnished, spacious and had both an outdoor and an indoor pool with a sauna costing just 1100 euros for a week. This is the website I used to seach for anyone who might be looking; http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/.
The festival itself had both pros and cons. The set- up was brilliant with the first acts on at 17:00 and the last act not starting until 03:00 the following morning. Anyone who has been to an English festival and been frustrated with the early finishes will love this as the dancier/electronic/techno acts are saved for the early hours. Be warned though if you enjoy chemical enhancement, drugs are very difficult to buy inside the festival so it is ‘recommended’ you purchase these before hand and bring them in at your own risk. The more chilled out among you will be pleased to know that cannabis is decriminalised in portugal so possession for personal use is permitted – possess and puff away! The timings are also brilliant for avoiding the midday sun and allowing you time to relax by the pool before the madness starts again.
The downside for me was that the only alcoholic drinks available inside the festival were lager, cider and Martini – who drinks Martini?! Although you can leave and re-enter the site if you want to visit a bar, it does mean missing some of the music and I found there were very few gaps between bands I wanted to see. Drink prices aren’t bad (cheaper than English festivals) but bloated on Desperado and Heineken I found myself sober and tired before the festival had finished each night. It also made waiting for the train back (I stayed in Cascais 25 minutes by train outside of Lisbon) quite tedious, as shown by my friends.
The highlight by far however was seeing the Stone Roses on friday night. I don’t have a picture because I was too busy dancing but watching Ian Brown strutting about and shaking his maracas made me long for Manchester again! I didn’t get chance to see them at Heaton Park recently but this more than made up for it especially as I was able to get closer to the front than I would have done in Manchester.
Staying a few days after the festival to sunbathe at the beach, eat out and visit Lisbon was also a good decision although the costs mount up so if you’re short of spends then this isn’t the cheapest way to enjoy festivalling. While I am pleased I have exerpeinced the festival I probably wouldn’t go back but depending on your musical persuasion it may be one to consider for next year.