The Riviera Ball


Estoril and the Cascais Coast has been known, for a few years now, as the Portuguese Riviera. Even though with the current conjuncture things are not as we would like them to be, this region has never lost its attributes that seduced so many people during the golden era of 1940 and 1950.

In memory to this glorious past, but also to celebrate a new era of great development and an optimistic view of the future, an important event took place, last October 2014, at Estoril Casino, the Bal de la Riviera. At this event, which transported everyone into the atmosphere of those glorious years, it was plain to see that Cascais hasn’t lost a single bit of its glamour and is still capable of being a cosmopolitan destination with unique life style. Discover more details of this unforgettable party.

Cascais, especially the area of Estoril, is still renowned for having been the main destination of refuge during the II World War, for members of European Royal Houses, aristocrats, businessmen, writers and artists who had to escape from the devastation of their countries.

In Portugal, the Estoril and Cascais coastline was, in a certain way, the den chosen by many to start a new life. Cosy by nature and blessed by a unique charming climate, Cascais and its people welcomed with open arms all of those who arrived looking for security in their lives. Here, more than safety, all these families found, during those golden years, the respect, fondness, peace, freedom and quality of life that they had been looking for.

Even though there was a sense of discomfort brought on through the news of those who came from other countries, telling them of the consequences of the war, Cascais was able to provide living conditions which many considered glorious during the 30’s and 40’s. This era was in fact prolonged to the following decades as a result of the relationships, friendships, passions and great memories which developed among those who spent their time here during a difficult period of their lives.

The exuberant and even extravagant parties, the simple living yet simultaneously glamorous, elegant and refined, the houses and palaces that came alive during many of the gala receptions, the fact that Portugal considered itself as a “neutral” country which led to the arrival of many spies to this destination, all this contributed to making this region one of the most important locations of European history of the time.

With these inspirations in mind and together with the motto of the celebration of the fifty years of the death of Ian Fleming, an idea to undertake this ball was born. Fleming was the author of the saga “James Bond – 007 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. For those who don’t know, he inspired himself on an episode he lived at the old Estoril Casino in order to build this famous character. The Riviera Ball, was in fact an event replicated on the first piece of this writer, “Casino Royal”.

The prince Charles-Philippe D’Orléans, mentor and organiser of this event, with French origins but resident and lover of this municipality during a few years, whose family was one those exiled in this town, was keen on showing to the world that Cascais still is the “crown jewel” of Portugal, a treasure well kept but worth discovering and enjoying.

Some of the writer Ian Fleming’s family members and His Highness’ Princes of Kent, were the honour hosts for this awesome celebration that gathered three hundred and fifty VIP guests. This event lasted for three days, among festivities and other activities, and guests, mostly foreigners, including the Royal Families of Belgium, ancient Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Russia and England. All the profit was given to the Portuguese Red Cross Association.

During those refined and lively nights, where everyone felt like they were living in Estoril during the decades of 1940 and 1950, not only the “best of Portugal” was highlighted, but also all the charm and potential Cascais still holds today, both as a tourism destination but also as a privileged location for living temporary or permanently.

The Great Gala, which took place in the Black and Silver Room at Estoril Casino, led the guests through every detail of the life of Ian Fleming. The set, designed by the Portuguese interior designer Dino Gonçalves, included themed elements that resembled a “jungle”, a landscape that surrounded the author for several years during his stay in Jamaica, a country where he lived many adventures, likewise his favourite character.

The attention to detail started long before, since the elaboration and design of the invitations. Every single name was handwritten, as well as the mail address on the envelopes that were sent to the guests. Besides this, the graphic image of the event was conceived using the cover that Ian Fleming, himself, drew for his first piece “Casino Royal” as starting point.

During the gala night, guests were surprised with a red carpet that guided them from Hotel Palácio to the Casino. After an unforgettable dinner, with a menu focused on the most exceptional Portuguese gastronomic products, a lively night of entertainment awaited them. The main presenter was the famous TV presenter and actress Catarina Furtado and included performances of the worldwide famous acrobats Golden Power and of the Portuguese rock band – The Gift. The ball itself was opened with the sound of the Portuguese orchestra Begin Big Band and the show kept right on through the rest of the night with DJ Paulo Pamplona. Another main highlight that night was the offering of a unique piece that gathers the work of two of the most famous Portuguese artists: the contemporary sculptress Joana Vasconcelos and the ceramist Bordallo Pinheiro. Spring Ball, the name of this piece, was created as an exclusive tribute to Ian Fleming and offered to his family, in name of Cascais, the organisers of the event and, His Highness, the Prince Michael of Kent.

At this event, and for all of those who participated on this wonderful night, an important fact came to life. Cascais was and still is a town where Portuguese and foreigners live in perfect harmony, a place that enjoys welcoming people and does it with highest consideration. Besides this, it is capable of reconciling a calm life, safe and simple, with elegance, boldness and charisma.

If still in doubt, we welcome you to visit Cascais. On a first visit, which we are sure you bound to repeat many times, you will immediately feel the harmony and this uniquely exceptional quality of life.

















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