Every year the historic streets of Loulé undergo a transformation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they turn into a completely different place. The beautiful quiet streets of the old town come alive and explode with the magical hustle and bustle of the Festival MED.

The cobbled alleys are filled with stalls with people selling the most beautiful handmade creations. There are marching bands. Tall otherworldly creatures. Fire jugglers. Delicious street food. And, of course - there's the music.

But most of all, there's an almost intangible feeling that takes over the place and the people in it.

Bands from all over the world take to the various stages - and you have to keep an eye on the program as you dash from place to place trying not to miss anything.

Well, you don’t have to. You can also just hang out with your friends on the grass next to the castle or walk around aimlessly soaking up the vibrant and colourful atmosphere. It doesn’t really matter. You dance and sing and fumble and stumble into the early hours. And the great thing is that almost everybody goes. This means you are likely to come face to face with friends you haven’t seen in ages.

This magical festival is deeply loved by the Louletanos and has developed an almost religious like following. I know people with MED tattoos.

It was cancelled in 2020, of course. And last year they dialled it down and had what was called the Intermédio. But even though it was great to see it being kept alive in some small way, I hope they will forgive me for saying - it just wasn’t the same, at all.