The New Bedford Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, a.k.a. the Portuguese Feast, a.k.a. Madeira Feast is the largest event New Bedford has every year. More than that, it is the largest Portuguese feast in the world and the largest ethnic festival in New England. The feast was founded in 1915 by four Madeiran immigrants who wanted to recreate the festivities of their home island.
Here is an overview of the feast which has become a major attraction for visitors from all over who come to celebrate the Portuguese culture through food, drink and entertainment.
1. Time and Location
If you have never been to the feast it naturally makes sense to let you know where to go and when to be there. The feast is a four-day event, officially kicking off at 5:30 PM on Thursday, August 3rd. The grounds close at midnight each night.
The grounds will open at noon and close at 11:45pm, serving food and supplying entertainment the whole night! By opening earlier on Friday this will provide an opportunity to attend to those who are hoping to avoid the large crowds.
Saturday festivities begin at 10:00am for the 5K road race followed by Fun & Family Day from NOON-4:00pm. The last day of the feast is Sunday, which starts off at noon and will feature a parade at 2:00pm. For more information on when and where events will be taking place, go to the Portuguese Feast Entertainment Schedule.
Most of the events take place at Madeira Field, which is permanent location in New Bedford’s north end, which comes to life one weekend a year for the festivities.
The address of Madeira Field is 50 Madeira Avenue, New Bedford, MA (88 Tinkham Street on your GPS). Parking can be a bit tricky, you may have to plan to search a bit to find a spot and walk a few blocks, or pay to park in a nearby private lot.
There is no charge for admission and the entertainment is free thanks to the hard work of the committee members who comprise the 2017 Feast of the Blessed Sacrament Committee. Feast members come from all over the country to plan the feast each year, some as far away as California and Florida. Some of the members will be traveling from across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South Africa to attend the feast, but in the meantime they have had family members representing them at the committee meetings.
Food is FREE food for kids under 12 – free burger, hot dog, French fries and a soda – from noon-4:00pm.
While admission is free to walk around and watch the entertainment, there are also many vendors at the grounds selling everything from handmade Madeiran souvenirs to cigars. Of course, food, carnival rides and beverages are also an additional cost.
Tickets may also be purchased to buy authentic Portuguese cuisine or, if you’re over 21, an impressive selection of alcoholic beverages. Tickets cost a dollar each and can be purchased at ten machines located throughout the grounds by placing a five, ten or twenty dollar bill inside. Tickets are non-refundable. There are also stands with employees who sell the tickets.
Prices of food are kept reasonable, and there is a great deal of variety to choose from. To give you a general idea of the prices of items at the feast, a full meal is 12 tickets (which equates to 12 dollars), most sandwiches are around four tickets, and a soda or a water goes for one ticket.