Faithful party with beer, music and joy on Lisbon night

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A few dozen pilgrims and volunteers of World Youth Day celebrated this Saturday with beer in the streets of Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré the joy of participating in the Catholic event. There are entrepreneurs who count on doubling the number of customers.

On the last weekend before the start of World Youth Day (WYD), 25-year-old Ukrainian Olya Matushiv was dancing happily in Lisbon’s Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara with her florescent yellow event backpack, while photographing Lisbon at night.

Faithful party with beer, music and joy on Lisbon night

“I am a WYD volunteer for the third time,” Olya said, saying there are about 40 Ukrainian volunteers at WYD to support the “more than 500 Ukrainian pilgrims” coming to Portugal to see Pope Francis.

Ukrainian volunteer Olya Matushiv, participating for the third time in World Youth Day (WYD), poses for a photo with a backpack with the symbols of the event, in Lisbon, July 29, 2023.© António Cotrim/Lusa
Ukrainian volunteer Olya Matushiv, participating for the third time in World Youth Day (WYD), poses for a photo with a backpack with the symbols of the event, in Lisbon, July 29, 2023.© António Cotrim/Lusa

Nicaraguan Miguel M., 33, is also a volunteer at WYD and while relaxing near the Ribeira Market overlooking the Tagus, he tells Lusa that he has already visited the Belém Tower and was delighted with the pastel de Nata and Super Bock beer.

In addition to coming to volunteer to help pilgrims at the Catholic event, Miguel left a message of concern for the fragile situation of the Christian faithful who are in Nicaragua, because they are being persecuted by the government of their country, with priests being arrested and Christians persecuted.

“We are fighting. The Church is against the Nicaraguan government because there is a lot of poverty and they have stopped helping missionaries and ordered the closure of the Red Cross. They also closed three national newspapers,” he said, concerned about the situation in the country.

The nighttime pilgrimage to Bairro Alto, Cais do Sodré, Santos and other Lisbon nightlife areas is calm, without congestion and without bumping and bruising.

The circulation of people in the streets of Atalaia, Barroca, Diário de Notícias, Rosa or Nova do Carvalho, among others, is done in a serene way, with a pleasant and peaceful coexistence between pilgrims, volunteers, Lisboners and tourists.

Slovakian Monika, 21, and her group of pilgrim friends from Slovakia walk their country’s flag in Bairro Alto, but only for a short time, as they have to retire to their quarters by midnight to attend Mass on Sunday morning.

Faithful party with beer, music and joy on Lisbon night

“I’m enjoying Lisbon and the Su per Bock beer,” she said, revealing that they haven’t had much time to get to know the city yet because they arrived today.

Maria (fictitious name), 19 years old, Portuguese volunteer in the coordination part of the City of Joy Stage, also has to collect until 11:00 pm at Mira Rio College and, due to this limitation, cannot stay long in the night entertainment.

He also preferred not to talk too much about what he can and cannot do, admitting that only a few volunteers have instructions to talk to the media, because of “disinformation” and “fake-news”.

To the sound of ABBA’s Dancing Queen, two volunteers from Madrid (Spain), Berenice Rodriguez and Wendy, dance with their florescent yellow backpacks on their backs and tell Lusa that, before the Day, they came to see Lisbon’s nightlife and digest the hamburger they had eaten for dinner.

Faithful party with beer, music and joy on Lisbon night

According to Hilário Castro, president of the Bairro Alto Merchants Association, entrepreneurs who have businesses in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré, are registering a greater influx of customers compared to last weekend.

The influx of customers “almost doubled”.

“Here in Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré there was a very significant increase in consumption of drinks and food and it will be related to the World Youth Day event, not least because the second half of July had a negative impact on billing and the turnout was lower than expected”, because with the “Portuguese vacations they lost parish”, he explained.

Ricardo Tavares, of the Portuguese Association of Bars and Discotheques, fears that there will be a drop in revenue next week during the religious event, because Lisboners are “fleeing Lisbon”, and people living in the surrounding area are “afraid to come to the city”.

Adding to the trend, pilgrims “are staying in schools and other institutions that close early,” he explains.

To back up his “well-founded fear”, Ricardo Tavares said that the bill this Friday night “was the same as Friday last week”.

Asked by Lusa if Lisbon’s nightlife entrepreneurs had prepared any ‘after-party’ or any special drink to mark WYD, Ricardo Tavares said that nothing was prepared, unlike 2010, the year of the coming of Pope John Paul II, when there was a party called “faithful to the Pope” at the Fiéis ao Bar do Rio nightclub.

“This year it was not prepared at all, because of the closure of the streets and some metro stations,” he said, noting that it was even “a bit against nature, because the Church does not look kindly on alcohol.”

WYD takes place in Lisbon from August 1 to 6 and will be visited by Pope Francis.

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