Entertainment in Madeira

Ano Novo
Place: Funchal
Photo: Turismo da Madeira
Photo: Turismo da Madeira

Madeira is a destination rich in entertaining events, with a programme full of shows, festivals and exhibitions.

This archipelago, with its unique natural landscape and known for its eternal spring climate and exuberant vegetation, is not just an exceptional place for relaxation. In Madeira, you can enjoy a wide range of cultural and sports activities and many popular feasts, from January to December, with plenty of opportunities for recreation and for appreciating all that the islands have to offer. The local population is always enthusiastic about these events too, and they are in themselves reason enough for a visit, making your holiday truly unforgettable.

Top of the list are the Carnival celebrations which, for five consecutive days, decorate the streets of Funchal with lights and flood them with music by brass bands and Carnival parades spreading high spirits across the city. It is virtually impossible not to be affected and join in the parade with the locals.

Spring in Madeira has place of honour, and its highlight is the Festa da Flor (Flower Festival), held every year in Funchal after Easter. Dozens of floats, bedecked with a plethora of indigenous flowers give off soft fragrances into the air as they parade through the city streets for the great Flower Pageant.

In the Festival of the Atlantic, in June, entertainment and culture go hand in hand to turn Madeira’s capital into a vast stage. There are concerts every Saturday evening, in which the splendour of fireworks combines seamlessly with the music, offering unique moments of joy and colour.

The Madeira Wine Festival is held in early September, when the grape harvest begins all over the island. This feast aims at recreating and reviving centuries-old habits of the Madeira people, dating back to the settlement of the Island. In the centre of Funchal, various allegoric light, sound and folklore shows on the theme of wine and grape-picking take place, while in the parish of Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, the festival starts with live grape harvesting. Grape-picking, the grape harvesters’ parades, grape treading and all the other rituals related to the typical Madeira festivities have an infectious enthusiasm that invites everyone watching the celebrations to join in.

Also in September, Vila Baleira, in Porto Santo, devotes a week to the navigator Christopher Columbus, who spent some years of his life on the Island. The Columbus Festival recalls his stay and experiences in the Madeira archipelago, as well as the whole odyssey of the Discoveries. This “historical” week is marked by plenty of music, exhibitions, street performances, and re-enacted period settings, the recreation of the landing of Columbus and his companions on the city’s dock being particularly notable.

In October, Madeira hosts the Festival of Nature and celebrates for its visitors its best attributes. On land, in the air and at sea, there are plenty of choices and everyone can experience a wide range of activities on offer for all ages. They are complemented by many other events, in a festival that combines sports, entertainment, ethnography and Madeira’s culture.

At the end of the year, the festivities become even more prominent with the hallmark of Madeira, the New Year’s Eve Celebrations. Christmas Christian traditions combine with demonstrations of joy at the arrival of the new year in a rich and wide programme that covers the whole of December and lasts until Twelfth Night, on 6 January. The whole island celebrates, in hotels, restaurants, bars and on the streets, lighting up the skies of Funchal with fireworks lasting about ten minutes to mark the occasion. It is undoubtedly a new dawn greeting the arrival of a new year.

If by chance you cannot be in Madeira for one of these great events, you will always find other sources of entertainment.

After a busy day, there’s nothing like experiencing Madeira’s nightlife to let your hair down. The famous Madeira Wine and other typical drinks, like “Poncha” (a cocktail made with sugar cane-based brandy, honey, sugar and fruit juice), are excellent ways to start an evening. You can also try your luck at the Madeira Casino which, in addition to the various game rooms, has a disco club with live music.

The Island of Porto Santo also boasts bars where you can end the day and start a lively night in the recreational area of Penedo do Sono, that will continue into the early hours.

With endless choices and great reasons to help you make the most of your leisure time, a holiday on the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo will undoubtedly be memorable and entertaining!

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