Azoreans are 90+% Roman Catholic and thus have a long tradition of religious based events. The Holy Ghost Festivals (Festas do Espirito Santo) are the most popular and frequent events in the Azores. The festivals are rooted in old history and ancient tradition and are typically held on all islands between the months of April and October. The festivals are sometimes referred to outside the Azores as “feast of soup” because besides the traditional parades there large feasts where soup and bread are handed out to those in attendance. Terceira island is best known for the decorative houses called “Imperios” (empires) where they keep the crown and the flag and are used as staging points for the feedings.
The town of Ponta Delgada, is home to the largest event held the islands, the Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres (Christ Lord of Miracles). The Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo takes place on the fifth Sunday after Easter. The faithful composed of locals and emigrants from all over the world, take part on the Sunday procession which runs through the main arteries of Ponta Delgada, walking behind the image of the Christ on a three to four hour event, along the flower decorated streets and balconies where residents come out to pay their respects to those in the parade. This religious celebration attracts many Azorean emigrants which swell the local population to a considerable and festive size.
The Sanjoaninas festivities in Angra do Heroismo are held in June honoring Saints Antonio, Pedro and John. This religious celebration also attracts many Azorean emigrants which swell the local population to a considerable and festive size.
The traditional “Tourada a corda” (bull runs through streets tethered to a long rope at which end stand up to 12 men, keeping the damage to only a few severely injured patrons every year), is typical of Terceira island but also practiced in other islands to a much lesser extent. If you’re not familiar with these be careful. Some of these bulls can, in certain cases, jump small walls up to 5 feet and surpass seemingly safe obstacles. The “Touradas a corda” are held every week in different locals all over Terceira between April and September. Traditional ring bullfights are also ongoing but less frequent. Bullring fights are only held in the islands of the central group.
The festival of Nossa Senhora de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes, patron of the whalers) also known as Semana dos Baleeiros (Whalers week) is held for a week in Lajes do Pico (not to be confused with Lajes of Terceira) beginning in the last Sunday of August. It is marked by social and cultural events connected to the tradition of whale hunting (no longer practiced in the Azores). The Festa das Vindimas (Wine Harvest Festival) takes place during the first week of September and is a century old custom ways by the people of Pico.
The locals celebrate their patron saint Nossa Senhora dos Milagres, (Our Lady of Miracles) on August 15 every year in addition to the festivals of the Divine Holy Spirit.
The Festival da Mare de Agosto (August Tide Festival) takes place every year beginning 15 August 15 in Praia Formosa. National and international musicians join the locals in a week of music, sun and fun.
The Semana do Mar (Ocean Week) is dedicated almost exclusively to water sports an takes place in August in Horta City.
Carnaval is celebrated in the Azores where it is a regional holiday unlike mainland Portugal. Parades, shows and dancing are the heart of the Carnaval festivities, with lively music, colorful costumes and floats. In S. Miguel the traditional "Batalha das Limas" (Water fights) are held in Ponta Delgada. Here you’ll find people by foot, motorcycle or truck with all kinds of water devices and “Limas” (water in wax containers) fighting their hearts out throughout the streets of Ponta Delgada. If you don’t want to get wet don’t get caught outdoors.
S. Miguel is home to the SATA Rally Azores (an IRC competition), the ASP World Tour of Surfing and the Azores Golf Open. Santa Clara of Ponta Delgada is a football (soccer) team playing in the National Liga de Honra (honor league, a notch below the main football league). Santa Clara has occasionally ascended to the main league. Other major events include Judo, Sailing, and Ocean sports.