National Horse Fair in Portugal

National Horse Fair in Portugal
Photo: fnc.cm-golega.pt
A small municipality of Golegã is widely regarded as the horse capital (Capital do Cavalo) of Portugal. It has been a meeting point for Portuguese breeders since at least the 18th century. No wonder that it is Golegã that hosts the National Horse Fair. In Portuguese, the event is known as Feira Nacional do Cavalo, Feira da Golegã, or Feira de São Martinho.

The Saint Martin Fair in Golegã dates back to 1571. It was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Martin was a soldier in the Roman army, he is generally portrayed on horseback and is considered the patron of horses and riders. Since 1833, the fair has hosted equestrian competitions and demonstrations. This tradition was inaugurated by Sebastião José de Carvalho Melo e Daun, the 4th Marquess of Pombal.

The event was renamed the National Horse Fair in the mid-19th century. Since then, it has become the most important equestrian event in Portugal and one of the world’s largest horse fairs. Breeders from all over Portugal come to showcase the best purebred horses. The Golegã Horse Fair is the largest showcase of the Lusitano, a Portuguese horse breed, closely related to the Spanish Andalusian horse. Local Lusitano breeders exhibit their horses in small stalls located throughout the town.

The National Horse Fair in Golegã is held every November, around St. Martin’s Day (November 11), running over ten days. Its rich and diverse program includes equestrian competitions (horse driving, show jumping, endurance, dressage, etc.), horse shows and displays, presentations, and other events and activities for athletes, breeders, and horse lovers. Most attendees come from Portugal and Spain, but the fair also attracts people from all over Europe.

Alongside equestrian events, the fair also offers lots of entertainment, including music and dance, wine tastings, and more. The narrow streets of Golegã are packed with stalls where you can buy local souvenirs, traditional food and products, and local drinks that will keep your warm. As the night falls, the chilly November air becomes filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts and sound of music. Local restaurants and bars remain open all night long.

Feira Nacional do Cavalo


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