Party All The Time!
The year’s first festivities are a good-humoured way of anticipating the arrival of springtime. Funchal citizens have a very intense way of experiencing Carnival, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.
On Saturday before Mardi Gras, the party begins with the “Great Allegorical Parade”, the main event — it is known for its huge impact and dimension, with thousands of costumed participants running through the streets with dances and choreographies. On Tuesday (“Terça-Feira Gorda”, or Mardi Gras), it is time for the “Cortejo Trapalhão” (the “Clumsy Parade”), open to all who want to take part in the costumed extravaganza and poke fun at daily life.
After all that partying, one most recover their strength and appreciate the beauty of the arrival of Spring. This is a good time to show the best of Madeira’s flora to the world: marguerite daisies, Madeira geraniums... The Flower Party (Festa da Flor) allows people to get to know these species. The event attracts tourists from all over the world and takes place between in April. It includes a parade of vehicles decorated by flowers that runs through the city centre and fills it with natural colours and aromas.
I can hear the Summer from here!
After the flowers, the heat comes. It’s time to enjoy good music, preferably in an open air space. The Festival do Atlântico takes place between in June. The event has several components: the Madeira Music Festival, is essentially dedicated to art music and opera, with Portuguese and international performers; the Madeira International Pyrotechnics Contest has participants from several countries and allows the audience to enjoy fireworks combined with music; finally, the program also includes performances by several local philharmonic orchestras.
This is also a season for jazz, which is an important part of Funchal’s cultural routine. The month of July is filled with the sounds of the Funchal Jazz festival, which has welcomed to its stage several internationally renowned musicians, as well as national talents. The main stage is in Santa Catarina Park, but there are several parallel events in other places: gigs in smaller venues, jam sessions in bars, exhibitions and film sessions, as well as workshops led by some of the guest musicians.
Autumn with a drink
The late Summer and early Autumn period is wine harvest season, so naturally the Wine Festival is a perfect digestive for a musical summer. It usually takes place in late August or early September at several locations in downtown Funchal. The programme includes street entertainment and music by philharmonic groups, as well as events paying tribute to Madeira wine, the harvest and the cultural traditions associated with it.
But soon afterwards, it is time to get back to work. The people of Madeira do not like to waste time and in October, preparations begin for Christmas and the end of the year.
Christmas is extremely important for the people of Madeira and is celebrated with enthusiasm. During Autumn and the early Winter, the streets are filled with decorations that attempt to turn the city into a giant nativity scene. All of this is accompanied by cultural,a rtistic and ethnographic events, as well as a great market fair (Market Night / Noite do Mercado) on December 23rd at Mercado dos Lavradores, where everyone can go for their last Christmas shopping spree.
The celebrations end with New Year’s Eve — Funchal’s Revéillon is famous for its epic fireworks show that welcomes the New Year by lighting up the skies for over ten minutes.
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