Celebrating Christmas with culture and fun in Sintra's parks and monuments
23 Nov 2022
The spirit of Christmas is already spreading its magic in the parks and monuments of Sintra, where this festive season is celebrated with many surprises for the whole family through the campaign "This Christmas, be part of History." Among gifts for those who want to offer culture this Christmas, programmes that combine history, nature and fun, and a trip to the Christmas of former times, there are many proposals from Parques de Sintra.
Gifts that make history
For those looking for an original gift this year, Parques de Sintra offers two types of vouchers for experiences that combine culture and fun.
"Exclusive visit and brunch at the National Palace of Pena" is a gift pack for two people which includes an exclusive and contextualised visit to the National Palace of Pena between 8:30 and 9:30 am, before it opens to the public, and a brunch at the monument's restaurant. This voucher has a value of €95 and can be used upon prior reservation.
The other option is the "Family Experience", a gift pack for two adults and two children aged 6 to 12 which includes a family experience that will create future memories with the heritage of Sintra. The wide variety of programmes to choose from include "The King's Treasure" at the National Palace of Sintra, which reveals the 1000-year history of this palace through clues and riddles that are unravelled with the help of paintings, tiles, spices and coats of arms; treasure hunt in the Parks of Pena and Monserrate, which, in an interactive and fun way, lead participants to explore the nature and mysterious corners of these spaces; "The Secret of the Cork Convent", which leads us to discover the way of life of the Franciscan friars of the Capuchos Convent through a game of clues that leads to the revelation of the greatest secret of this convent house; and "The Daily Life of Animals", which provides contact with the animals that live in the Farmyard of Monserrate such as rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep and donkeys, examining their routines and many other curiosities. This voucher, which includes entry to the chosen place and the respective experience, has a value of €35. It can include extra participants at the cost of €10 each, with the exception of children under six, who can participate for free.
Vouchers are available for purchase online at www.parquesdesintra.pt until 15 January and must be used within the year. They come with the offer of a Happy Holidays postcard, which allows you to personalise the gift and which can be downloaded from the Parques de Sintra website.
In addition to these proposals, the shops of the National Palaces of Sintra, Pena and Queluz offer a wide range of gifts with history, inspired by the heritage of Sintra, such as porcelain, tiles and various decorative items; books and stationery; textiles and accessories; children's items; and much more. The products can be purchased through the online shop https://shop.parquesdesintra.pt/, and at the shops of the Palaces of Sintra and Queluz, which can be accessed for free.
Programmes to experience Christmas with the family
For many, the Christmas season is synonymous with holidays and family activities. In Sintra's parks and monuments, the diverse programme on offer for this season focuses on experiences full of fun and learning and includes some new features.
Among the many suggestions is the programme "The Farmyard prepares for Christmas", which takes place on 3 December at 10:30 am and 3 pm at the Farmyard of Monserrate. This event will be an opportunity for the whole family to start preparing for the most magical night of the year, creating a decoration made with natural elements while baking a sweet bread that everyone has prepared with the aromatic herbs of the farm in a wood-fired oven.
On 11 December at 10:00 and 11:30 am, there is a guided visit to the Peninha Sanctuary, which is a first in the Parques de Sintra programme. Often hidden in fog, this place holds many mysteries to arouse our curiosity. After an explanation of this site's context, participants are invited to explore the ruins of the Chapel of São Saturnino and the interior of the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Peninha, in a journey exploring the history, legends and natural surroundings of the space.
Another novelty is the programme "A Royal Christmas in the Palace of Pena", which will take place in this monument on 17 December at 3:00 pm. This performance presents a story told in the first person by the most beloved figure of Christmas: the bearded old man with a bag full of surprises. At the Palace of Pena, however, this character is the Artist-King Ferdinand II, who was responsible for introducing the Christmas tree tradition in Portugal which continues to this day. He also designed the first Christmas greetings card ever recorded in the country.
This activity is framed by the reconstruction of King Ferdinand II's Christmas Tree. As has been the case in recent years, the "Pena Pine Tree" will be on display in the Great Hall of the National Palace of Pena from 27 November, the first Sunday of Advent, until the Epiphany, 6 January. At the time of Queen Maria II's reign, Christmas at the Palace of Necessidades was celebrated around a pine tree brought specifically for this purpose from Pena Park in Sintra. The memory of those nights was left by King Ferdinand II through two engravings of his own production, and it was these engravings, accompanied by extensive historical research, that allowed this reconstruction to be carried out with historical rigour. This installation reminds us of what Christmas was like in former times and includes scale reproductions of the decorations such as fruit, candles and animal figures, and toys.
(Foto: Joana Quintanilha/ COOLture Tours)