The 20th edition of the giant nativity scene opened to the public on the 1st of December and will run until the 8th of January 2023 from 10am to 1pm and 2:30pm to 7pm daily, at the António Aleixo Cultural Centre in Vila Real de Santo António. The entrance cost is one euro and half the price for children under 10 years old.

The talented creators who are behind the incredible nativity scene are Augusto Rosa, Teresa Marques, Joaquim Soares and António Bartolomeu, who are employees of the municipality.

The exhibition covers a total area of 240 square metres and is home to thousands of figures many of them made from scratch. Their creators worked for over 40 days and 2500 hours on the scene, however, preparations had already started several months ago in order to bring this festive initiative to life.

The list of materials used in its construction is extensive and incorporates more than 20 tons of sand, 4 tons of stone dust, 3000 kilos of cork and hundreds of props.

The almost one hundred animated and motorised pieces, the lakes and the lighting constitute "the secret" of the event and are, at the same time, the stars of the show. Additionally, the scene rests on a complex support base where several kilometres of cables are installed to bring this work of art to life and guarantee, for example, the circulation of water, the lighting of the houses and the scenic effects.

Furthermore, this edition focuses on elements evocative of the region, namely Praça Marquês de Pombal, the old huts on Monte Gordo beach, the saltpans, the traditional Algarve mills, as well as other local monuments.

These details are added to the reconstitution of many Christian and pagan episodes associated with the Christmas season, which are evident in the nativity scene, with factors that distinguish it from all the others in the country and are one of the reasons for its success.

Success beyond its border

The Vila Real de Santo António nativity scene is already part of the Algarve's Christmas traditions and is one of the municipality's anchor events, attracting visitors of all ages from all parts of the country, as well as thousands of foreign visitors, particularly from Spain, given its popularity in neighbouring Andalusia.

Ecological brand

The ecological aspect has not been forgotten either, since most of the materials are natural or have been reused, in particular cork and moss. On the other hand, led lighting systems have been implemented and the water used in the ornamental lakes has been reused.

For more information and to see the full timetable, please visit or alternatively, visit @cmvrsa on Facebook.


Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.

Cristina da Costa Brookes