Queima das Fitas: The Celebration of University Students in Portugal

9 de April, 2024

Queima das Fitas: The Celebration of University Students in Portugal

Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons) is a party that takes place every year in several cities in Portugal and celebrates the end of the academic year for university students. See the 2024 schedule!
Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons) in Portugal
Reading: 7 min

The month of May is a time of intense movement in the university cities of Portugal. During this period, students and the community in general are counting down to one of the most anticipated events in the official calendar of festivities: the Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons). This academic tradition has already become a cultural phenomenon that attracts the attention even of those who have no relation with the student environment. In this article we will explore the reasons that make this university student celebration such a special and unique event in the Portuguese cultural scene.

After all, what is Queima das Fitas?

Queima das Fitas is an academic festival that takes place annually in several university cities in Portugal, such as Coimbra, Porto, Lisbon, Covilhã, Braga, among others. The event is a celebration of the end of the academic year for university students, marking the end of exams and academic work. During the festival, students wear traditional academic costumes and parade through the streets in procession, accompanied by musical bands and entertainment groups.

The party usually lasts about a week and includes various activities, such as dinners, concerts, dances, serenades and other celebrations. Queima das Fitas is a tradition that dates back more than a century and remains one of the most important and emblematic events of academic culture in Portugal.

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What is the origin of the term “Queima das Fitas”?

The origin of the term “Queima das Fitas” goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, in Coimbra, one of the most traditional university cities in Portugal. At that time, university students wore colored ribbons on their notebooks to identify the college and the course they were attending. At the end of the school year, these ribbons were removed and burned in a large bonfire, symbolizing the end of their studies and the beginning of their professional lives.

Some cities adopt another name for the same type of event. For example, in Aveiro it is called Enterro and in Braga it is called Enterro da Gata. Other cities simply use the expression “academic week”, as is the case in Covilhã.

Learn here how to take your master’s degree in Portugal

What happens during the Burning of the Ribbons?

University students in their last year, known as “finalists”, celebrate the end of the academic period, a kind of graduation.
The students in their first year, called “freshmen”, celebrate the end of this first academic year. They are no longer “freshmen” and can now wear the famous academic costume, which consists of a cape similar to the one worn by Harry Potter (see curiosity about this subject at the end of the text*).

Street Program

  • Serenade: an event that marks the beginning of the “queima das fitas,” typically at midnight, featuring the university tuna performing fado and traditional Portuguese music.

  • Rally Paper: Students are challenged to explore the emblematic locations of downtown Porto, highlighting its historical and architectural heritage in a relaxed atmosphere of camaraderie.

  • Parade (Cortejo): Approximately 400,000 students from all academic institutions parade through the city on foot and decorated trucks, with music, drinks, and wearing their traditional academic dress. Final-year students wear the academic outfit, including a top hat and cane in the course colors, except for freshmen who cannot yet wear the full outfit until the end of this ceremony. This event gathers around 400,000 students!

  • Blessing of the Folders (Benção das Pastas): A religious ceremony symbolizing the end of the academic life for final-year students, also known as the blessing of the ribbons.

  • Musical Concerts: Nighttime event with public concerts, beverage stalls, and fundraising activities. Tickets tend to sell out quickly (see program below).

Can international students wear academic attire?

Yes! Academic attire is a right for any student of the academy.

Read also: Student Visa for Portugal – Costs and Documents

Ribbons: University Course Colors in Portugal

Academic sashes originate from the ribbons used to fasten study folders. The colors of the sashes vary depending on the course and university. For example, Red represents Law at various universities as it is closely associated with Social Sciences. Yellow is also often linked to Health fields like Medicine, Dentistry, and Nutrition. Civil Engineering is represented by Brick Orange at the University of Coimbra and Brick at the University of Porto.

Each institution has its own colors for each course, but some colors have universal meanings!

Who can participate in the burning?

The burning of the ribbons is primarily an event for university students, but some activities are open to the community. Events exclusive to students include the procession and the blessing of the folders (they take place in the street and can be admired), while the serenade is open to everyone, but is a formal occasion. The concerts are open to anyone who buys a ticket, and are usually very popular.

Queima’s Musical Program 2024

The musical shows that take place during the week of the burning usually attract a lot of people, even those who are no longer students. This is because they bring together national and even international attractions with tickets at very interesting prices, since it is a non-profit event for students. Tickets for the concerts usually go on sale about 45 days before the event, and the prices increase as the date of the party approaches. See below the 2023 schedule for the two most traditional queimas in Portugal.

Queima das Fitas Porto 2024 

In the city of Porto, the academic procession and blessing of the folders take place in downtown Porto and on Avenida dos Aliados. The blessing of the folders is on May 5th at 11 a.m. The academic parade is on May 7th at 2 p.m. in downtown Porto. The musical concerts are held near Parque da Cidade, at the “Queimódromo,” located on Estrada da Circunvalação, in an open area of ​​45 thousand square meters.

In 2024, the “Queima Nights” (“Noites da Queima”) take place from May 4th to May 11th. The general pass is already sold out, but daily tickets are still available. Until May 3rd, tickets cost 12 euros, after which they will cost 13 euros.

Confirmed performances so far:

May 4th
Richie Campbell

May 5th
Slow J
Van Zee

May 6th
Wet Bed Gang
Fernando Daniel

May 7th
Quim Barreiros

May 8th
Mizzy Miles and Friends

May 9th
Lon3r Jonny

May 10th
Mariana Bo
The Script

May 11th
Bárbara Bandeira
Hybrid Theory

Noites da Queima, Queima das Fitas Porto- Burning of the ribbons

Burning of the Ribbons Coimbra 2024

The Queima das Fitas of Coimbra 2024 takes place from May 24th to June 1st and promises to be a memorable celebration, especially marked by the 125th anniversary of this iconic student festival. The event will be a tribute to tradition and the future. The chosen motto for this year, “Coimbra of longing, 125 years for eternity,” reflects the historical and enduring significance of this festivity. The program includes the return of the traditional “Cortejo dos Fitados” on Sunday, May 26th, which takes place in the streets and is free for everyone. The Park Nights are dedicated to concerts featuring national and international artists. The “Chá Dançante” marks the end of the party, with the Gala Ball decoration being destroyed.

The “Ceia dos Boêmios” is a gathering between the graduating students and newcomers, while the “Sarau Acadêmico” showcases theater and music by the students of the Academic Association of Coimbra. Additionally, there are over 60 planned activities of solidarity, sports, and others.

In 2024, paid musical programming takes place from May 24th to June 1st, at Praça da Canção. The confirmed attractions so far are:

May 24th – Matuê
May 25th – Hybrid Theory and Nininho Vaz Maia
May 27th – Myke Towers + Soraia Ramos
May 28th – Menos é Mais
May 30th – Slow J + Dillaz
May 31st – Lon3r Johny
June 1st – Excesso

Ticket prices for the shows are: student €12, non-student €15

How to Study in Portugal: Complete Guide to Study in the Country

Why go to the Burning of the Ribbons?

Queima das Fitas is a unique and very lively cultural event in Portugal. The energy of the students who parade and celebrate in the streets during the event is something contagious that is worth checking out. It is also an opportunity to learn more about Portuguese culture, make new friends, and have a lot of fun. Make a note of the dates in your calendar and be sure to participate!

What is the relationship between Harry Potter’s cloak and the academic attire of Portuguese universities?

Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for about two years. She moved to Portugal after the death of her mother, Anne, in 1991, who crowded for many years with a degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis. Anne Volant’s death “left a shadow of sadness” on the author, something that influenced her in creating the story of Harry Potter, a young wizard who lost his parents as a baby. In Porto, she taught English, married a Portuguese journalist (Jorge Arantes) in 1992, and had her daughter Jessica in 1993. It was circulating around the city that she absorbed many inspirations. One of them was the academic costume of the students at the University of Porto and Coimbra. The cloak/ cape/ robe is practically the same used by Hogwarts students. No, it is not just a coincidence…

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*Silvia Resende is a journalist at Atlantic Bridge. From Bahia, she arrived in Portugal in 2015 to build a new life together with her family. She has a degree and a master’s degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Porto. She has worked as a TV presenter, reporter, event producer, public relations and tour guide in Porto. She loves to travel and to discover the cultural and natural heritage of each place she goes to. She was a student at the University of Porto and followed Queima das Fitas very closely.



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