The street is the privileged stage for the great cultural manifestations of Santa Maria da Feira – traditional, contemporary and experimental – a city with a natural aptitude for creation and recreation in the public space.
It is in this context that in 2001 the International Street Theatre Festival of Santa Maria da Feira – Imaginarius – was born as Portugal’s largest Street Arts event and an international reference.
Focused on major international productions and on the development of original creations for premiere presentation in its programming, it also gives space to the experimentation and the imagination of local creators.
Since its first edition, it has touched on pressing issues that address various social themes, investing in its own creations and including community theater projects, paying tribute to the local cork industry and the traditions of the paper industry, for example.
The training and artistic exchange aspects are also strategic for the festival, materializing in workshops and artistic residencies with great masters of Street Arts.
Over the years, the festival has grown and now the official program also includes the Mais Imaginarius section, a competition of projects by emerging artists, and Imaginarius Infantil, with workshops and innovating experiences for audiences from 3 to 12 years old.
During the COVID-19 pandemic
After 2 years of COVID-19 pandemic, which questioned the whole essence of this festival, Imaginarius is back to its old self, promoting the return of numerous national and international artists to the streets of Santa Maria da Feira.
In the first year, the festival had to be canceled.
In the second year, Imaginarius adapted to the new reality and allowed artists to participate in a hybrid format, with the programming alternating between two public spaces: the internet/digital format and the gardens and cultural equipment of the city.
In 2022, Imaginarius welcomed 178 artists from 16 countries for four days celebrating the full return of street arts to the public space of Santa Maria da Feira, between May 26 and 29.
In its 21st edition, the festival continues to invest in accessibility support tools, ensuring conditions for all audiences to fully enjoy the diverse program, providing shows with translation into Portuguese Sign Language (LGP) and audio description (AD), and reserved seats for audiences with reduced mobility.
The future of Imaginarius
Imaginarius is currently part of the European Street Arts circuit, through its presence within the Circostrada Network, together with a number of partnerships with other festivals and creation projects, thus contributing to Santa Maria da Feira’s assertion as the Portuguese Street Arts capital.
Marked by a never-ending will to create and to transform, the Festival trails a necessary path of construction and deconstruction.