More than seven million people have visited Bolhão since its reopening

  • Article



Miguel Nogueira

2023 was the first full calendar year for Bolhão since it was returned to the city, following refurbishment and modernisation works. Now that the fresh produce market is consolidated, in 2024 Bolhão will go further and celebrate typical Portuguese products in themed events, and open its doors to international chefs, combining knowledge, flavour and tradition.

Since its reopening, the market has been visited by more than seven million people. Of those, five million visited it in 2023, a figure that exceeded all expectations. The third quarter was the period with the highest turnout, with a total of 1.7 million visitors. However, October and December were the months when the most people passed through Bolhão.

The comparative analysis of the fourth quarter of 2022 and 2023 highlights the positive performance of the Bolhão Market, with a 9% increase in inflows. In December, growth was 19% year-on-year, with a total of 507,000 visitors. These figures consolidate the Market as a point of interest and frequent visits, which overcomes the novelty effect seen in the reopening quarter.

Throughout 2023, the stalls occupancy rate reached 100%, but in the meantime two traders submitted a request to cancel their licences for private reasons. 2024 thus started with a 97% occupancy rate, with only two stalls and two shops available. Projects are being developed for the latter two, to divide the spaces into smaller shops, thus increasing the number of spaces.

At the moment, the market has 77 stalls, seven restaurants and 28 outdoor shops fully working.

Porto has the best of Portuguese gastronomy pulsing at is heart

In 2024, Bolhão strengthens its position as Porto's gastronomic quarter and brings many new features, in addition to events programming already consolidated in 2023.

We highlight the initiative that will bring international chefs to the market, in a gastronomic exchange project. The event will affirm Bolhão as a meeting point of experiences for the local, national and international community, developed in partnership with the Municipal Department of Tourism and Internationalisation.

The best of typical Portuguese gastronomy will be given special prominence in the Market Gallery, with regular themed agri-food fairs. The fairs take place over three days and aim to celebrate typical Portuguese products and attract new audiences. The first fair of 2024, from 21 to 23 March, will be dedicated to Easter.

The events programme will continue to energise the Market, with showcooking, workshops, music cycles, entertainment, art and culture. It continues to bet on special programmes, such as the Health Days in Bolhão, while maintaining its partnership with the Health and Education departments and also with University of Porto's faculties. New protocols are being developed with other organisations to promote health and food literacy.

City restaurants can join Bolhão's loyalty programme

The launch of a Bolhão quality label is planned for this year, with the main target audience being the Invicta's HORECA channel. A partnership with professional customers, emphasising the value of buying in the traditional market and reinforcing the quality of the products chosen by each establishment.

The approach to professional audiences will also be extended to the field of architecture, launching guided tours to the centenary listed building. There will be two types of visits, guided or technical, the latter accompanied by an architect with in-depth knowledge of the building and the refurbishment and modernisation work carried out.

A centennial market, but which is constantly evolving

In order to ensure that the market remains at the forefront, as a modern space, market and public studies are planned to improve the experience of customers, traders and services provided.

Improving market conditions remains a priority. After implementing the new signage for the frozen food stalls, these are expected to be brought closer to the rest of the market by 2024. There will also be new signage for the restaurants and reinforced shading and rain protection for the stalls. Among the other improvements planned is the installation of recycling bins to raise awareness among the internal and external population to the importance of sustainable practices.

Consultation with the market's traders and tenants is part of Bolhão's continuous improvement process, including holding regular individual and general meetings. It is important to note that the contributions received at these meetings, as well as other data collected, will result in a proposal to revise Bolhão's Market Regulations, to be presented to the municipality in 2024.