Every year, Ponte de Lima hosts this event. In 2010, the 6th Festival Internacional de Jardins runs from 28 May to 31 October. This is an initiative by the municipality to promote appreciation and interest in gardens and gardening, and which is strongly connected to environmental protection and preservation of heritage. A theme is selected which is interpreted in the gardens designed by participants from different countries who compete for the award of best garden. A jury selects 12 temporary gardens for exhibit, which aim to offer visitors direct contact with new approaches to garden design, creative trends, and innovative perspectives of the use of public spaces.
This year (2010), the theme is Kaos (Chaos) in the Garden. I found the interpretation of the theme very well done, with the principle behind each garden explained at the entrance to each. Without reading this explanation, it would be difficult to figure out what some gardens are trying to portray. Some are very creative, others enigmatic, a few are playful, a few straightforward. Titles of gardens sound very enticing, e.g. Blank Garden, Earthquake, Suspended Kaos. The last one, which was the entry of the host country was, I think, the most impressive -- with multiple mirrors and wires and coils and vines, so that one had to be very careful when going inside. It very creatively projected the feeling of chaos but in a kind of systematic and yes, suspended, way.
These temporary gardens are set amidst a space that is a permanent garden alongside the river Minho, which can be visited year round. There is a children's playground, walking paths that have lemon trees and grape vines forming the arches (with fruit in abundance when we visited!), fountains, and plenty of benches to relax in. Overall, a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon...
Entry to the garden festival costs 1 euro.
Ponte de Lima is in Viana do Castelo district, on North Portugal. Ponte de Lima is about 25km away from Viana do Castelo, so if you are visiting this city and have a car you should go and enjoy this beautiful village.
In Ponte de Lima you have the chance of admiring the beautiful Portuguese azulejos. Azulejos are tiles, and these tiles from long gone years are hand painted, making them unique and most interesting. The tiles pictured in this photo are in the Tower by the Parish Church and depict some scene on which can be seen a man standing on a horse, probably a nobleman, surrounded by the people. Notice that behind him there is the Church's main entrance. As many Portuguese tiles they are white and painted in blue, but is this case they have an "extra" yellow frame around, making it somewhat colourful but not too much.
Feiras Novas is a big celebration that occurs every September in Ponte de Lima - it's a mix of catholic and folk celebrations, ... religious processions, music concerts, fireworks, ...
Being a major event for locals and for "foreigners" if you intend to visit Ponte de Lima by this occasion, you should book ahead.