Coimbra’s biggest bash of the year is the Queima das Fitas in May, when the ritual academic “burning of the ribbons” is accompanied by the mother of all parties in a week-long, alcohol-fuelled series of gigs, dances and parties. The coloured ribbons worn by students represent the various faculties, and the week’s main parade sees decorated faculty floats followed by black-caped students winding down the hill from the university; every night the focus shifts to the riverside arena where big names in music rock the city until the small hours.

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