If the thought of a whole festival dedicated to chocolate appeals to you, here’s my advice for getting the most out of annual chocolate festival in Óbidos.
1. There’s plenty to enjoy without buying a ticket
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to stump up the 7 euros to get inside the castle walls, it’s still worth heading to Óbidos while the festival is on.
There’s whole lot of chocolate activity going on in town, such as the chocolate sculptures on display at the catering school near the Pousada entrance and stalls selling all manner of sweet treats.
The chocolate fashion show (yes, I am serious!) is free, too.
Rivalling the prize-winning chocolate sculptures inside the festival, the cake decorators really went to town on the Disney theme. Best of all, because they were on display away from the castle, they were free to enjoy.
2. Buy your festival ticket early to avoid the queues
Don’t bother standing in the long queues for tickets at the main ticket office near the car parks. You can enter Óbidos without a ticket and buy one at the entrance to the festival where there are hardly any queues.
Better still, buy one from your Obidos hotel or one of the shops in town. Many hotels offer a package deal which includes accommodation and entrance fees for the chocolate festival.
3. Get away from the hoards
If you don’t like crowds, duck into one of the cobbled alleys off the main street in Óbidos and make your way towards the castle through deserted medieval streets that run parallel to Rua Direita.
4. Protect yourself from the sun
Take a hat and sun cream if it’s a hot day, even in spring. There’s no shade and a long queue to get into the main tent with the chocolate sculptures.
The tent is blissfully air-conditioned but even if the chocolate is still holding its shape, you may be melting by the time you get inside.
5. Show cooking tasters are worth waiting for
Be patient but pushy at the live chocolate-making demonstrations. If you make your way to the front of the crowd, you will eventually be rewarded with a taster.
6. Not all chocolate treats are tasty
Unless you like thin chocolate shells filled with air and frothy, sickly sweet cream, avoid the Bembokas. They look like individual chocolate-covered cakes but taste revolting.
7. Try new flavour combinations
Try the unusual chocolate treats on offer, especially the chocolate cheese. I was a little skeptical at first but it’s creamy and the combination actually works well.
8. Check out the chocolate fashion
If you can’t make it to the fashion show, most of the costumes will be on display in a marquee inside the castle walls and there’s a big screen in the main church square which plays a recording of the event on loop the following day.
9. Be aware of extra costs for activities
Even if you’ve paid the entrance fee, you still have to pay extra for cooking classes. Kids’ cooking classes are 3 euros and adult workshops are 7.50 euros – grown ups need to reserve their place.
10. Schedule your chocolate fun
Check the programme for other activities such as body painting demonstrations, show cooking by top chocolate chefs and concerts so you get the most out of your visit.
11. Double check the dates of the chocolate festival
Don’t make the same mistake I did and end up missing the festival altogether! For 2019, the plan is to have the festival running every day from 25th April to 5th May but in previous years, the main festival grounds were only open from Friday to Sunday.
For more information and the programme, check out the official website for the international chocolate festival in Óbidos.
Find out how to include Óbidos in your Portugal travel itinerary.
Check out other festivals in Portugal.
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