Madeira Events and Attractions for 2016/2017
Madeira New Year’s Eve – Funchal – 31st December to January 1st
New Year’s Eve is celebrated everywhere on the island, in hotels, restaurants, bars, and even in the streets. The highlight of the New Year’s Eve festivities are spectacular fireworks – set off from approximately 50 posts – that illuminate the skies over Funchal. This is a truly unforgettable event, which brings back a multitude of visitors to the island each year.
Cantar os Reis (Singing of the Kings) – Funchal – 5
Cantar os Reis is a charming Madeiran festival filled with carols and songs, celebrated on the 12th night after Christmas. Traditionally, troupes roamed the streets at night, singing and playing music from door to door. Today, outdoor concerts are held all over the island including Ribeira Brava, Câmara de Lobos and the auditorium in the Jardim Municipal in Funchal. The lively traditional carols are performed by local musical groups.
‘Santo Amaro’ Festival – Santa Cruz – 15
To commemorate the close of the Christmas season, ‘Santo Amaro’ is celebrated throughout Madeira. Christmas delicacies are laid out on every table as families share a final festive meal and take down Christmas decorations, traditional lapinhas and nativity scenes. Festivities in Santa Cruz include stalls, music and food, as well as a candle-lit procession to the Igreja Matriz to honour the patron saint.
Festa dos Compadres – Santana – February 16th, 18th, 19th and 23rd
For about 50 years, Festa dos Compadres has signified the start of the Carnival festivities in Madeira. Held in Santana, in the north-east of the island, the town celebrates with a parade of decorated floats, troupes in traditional costumes and musical entertainment. Actors perform comic sketches about social and political issues, while giant figurines are publicly ridiculed, judged and cheerfully burned. A variety of stalls offer some of the island’s most famous gastronomic specialities, including espetada and bolo do caco.
Madeira Carnival Festivities – February 22nd to 1st March 2017 (Main Parade 25th and Fun Parade 28th)
One of the biggest street parties in Europe, Madeira’s Carnival evokes the riotous spirit of Rio! The festivities begin on Saturday with an elaborate parade through Funchal featuring the island’s best samba bands and troupes dancing through the streets in dazzling costumes. The party continues throughout the weekend and concludes on Shrove Tuesday with the fantastic Trapalhão parade – when the streets are full of locals in outlandish costumes. The music is contagious… put on your dancing shoes and join the party!
Happy Valentine’s Day – 14th February
Valentine's Day is a special day celebrated by many people throughout the world. Escape on a romantic getaway to Madeira island, explorer nature and enjoy some one-on-one time with your loved one.
Festival of Wine, Embroidery & Handicrafts of Madeira (Festival do Vinho do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira) (Biennial) (dates to be announced)
The Festival of Wine, Embroidery & Handicrafts is a celebration of Madeira’s unique crafts and winemaking traditions. Learn more about Madeiran embroidery, tapestry and ceramic tile painting by participating in workshops, or simply enjoy wine tasting, wine auctions, exhibitions of beautiful embroidery and live entertainment over three days. This event is hosted by the Madeira Wine Institute on Rua 5 de Outubro, Funchal.
Festa da Anona (Cherimoya Fruit Festival) – Faial, Santana (dates to be announced)
Cherimoya Fruit Festival is a traditional festival celebrated in Faial, Santana. This event celebrates one of the most popular and widely cultivated fruits of this region "Anona" (also known as Custard-apple or Cherimoya). Visitors can enjoy great entertainment, traditional food and drink specialities.
Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT 2017) – 22nd April 2017
MIUT (Madeira Island Ultra Trail) is a mountain race across the island, annually promoted by Clube de Montanha do Funchal. This event, which started in 2008 with only 141 adventurers, has now over 2,000 participants from more than 30 different nationalities, including some notorious names from the national and international trail scene. Along 115 km, from northwest to southeast, this unique and challenging experience starts at sea level, in Porto Moniz, crossing the island’s best tracks and highest peaks — Pico Ruivo (1861 m)/Pico do Areeiro — to end again at sea level, with the finish line in Machico. This event includes 3 other competitions: Ultra (around 85 km), Marathon (42 km) and Mini (16 km).
Madeira Film Festival – 17-23
Madeira Film Festival is a non-competitive festival that awards filmmakers the ‘Laurissilva Ambassador’ prize not only for their work, but also to raise awareness of the ecological preservation of natural resources, namely the Laurissilva forest, which is endemic to Madeira and considered Natural World Heritage by UNESCO. Belmond Reid's Palace Hotel and Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias in Funchal, both synonymous with splendour, are the stages of this festival, created in 2012 by the Scottish director Aitken Pearson. It is currently the main annual film event on the island and already plays an important role on the national film festival scene. Besides the films, the diversified programme also includes lectures, musical concerts, workshops and fashion shows.
Porto Santo Ultra Trail (dates to be announced)
The Ultra Trail of Porto Santo is organised by the Athletics Association of Madeira. This event has three races: a 42 kilometres (the main), 21 kilometres (the second) and a shorter of 7.5 kilometers.
Madeira Flower Festival – Celebrations 4th-21st (6th Parade "Wall of Hope" and 7th "Flower Parade")May 2017
Every year, two weeks after Easter, Madeira’s flower-festival fills the main streets of Funchal’s centre with floats displaying a myriad of flowers and colours. On the eve before the street parade, thousands of children gather in the Praça do Município where they build a ‘Wall of Hope’, made of thousands of flowers. Other activities during this time include the making of flower carpets in the streets, folklore performances, flower shows, classical music concerts and variety shows.
Festa do Limão (Lemon Festival) Ilha – Santana
The annual Lemon Festival is celebrated in the town of Santana, in the parish of Ilha. Local farmers proudly exhibit their produce and there are plenty of stalls selling cakes and traditional food containing this vital ingredient. The parish of Ilha produces about 90 tonnes of lemons per year, which represents about 25% of the island’s production. The Festa do Despique is also part of the festivities – a type of improvised folk music accompanied by traditional instruments.
Festa da Cebola (Onion Festival) – Caniço
Dedicated to the humble onion, Festa da Cebola is a charming tribute to local farmers and the agricultural produce of Caniço. Admire artistic arrangements and displays with local flowers and enjoy the parade of tractors and cars decoratively covered with onions. Traditional music, craft stalls and a selection of food and wine ensure this festival is a popular event for all ages. Don’t forget to take home a box of home-grown onions – direct from the farmer!
Feira do Livro (Book Fair) – Funchal
Held under the beautiful jacaranda trees in Funchal’s Avenida Arriaga, the annual Funchal Book Fair is a week-long event. Visitors can browse through the stands representing local bookshops and Portuguese publishing houses, or take part in events including book launches for new releases, poetry sessions, literary seminars, entertainment for children as well as exhibitions and live music performances. A great selection of books are available for all ages.
The Classic Auto Show – Praça do Povo
Car lovers rejoice! The annual Classic Auto Show is an outstanding exhibition of the finest vintage and classic cars on the island of Madeira. Stroll along Praça do Povo in Funchal to see a unique collection of rare and restored cars, motorbikes and scooters from another era, all in pristine condition. The day culminates with cocktails and an awards ceremony for the most original, best restored and ‘best of show’ vehicles.
Festival "Fica na Cidade" – Funchal – May to June
The streets surrounding the Funchal city centre come alive at the end of May during the Festival "Fica na Cidade" – a typical Madeiran arraial (street party). Local restaurants in Largo do Chafariz, Rua da Carreira, Praça Colombo, Praça do Carmo and "Zona Velha" the old part of the city of Funchal feature special traditional menus and offer a wide selection of local food and wine. The streets are beautifully decorated for the occasion and entertainment includes stand up comedy, music from singing groups and brass bands.
Atlantic Festival – Fireworks Contest – 3, 10, 17 and 24 June 2017
The Atlantic Festival is an exciting annual event that combines entertainment and culture. It has three components: the Madeira Music Festival, the International Fireworks Competition and performances by philharmonic bands in Funchal’s centre. Classical music performances are held in the Palácio de São Lourenço, Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, Casa das Mudas and several churches in Funchal. On every Saturday night in June, contestants from different countries organise magnificent firework displays in harmony with accompanying music as part of the International Fireworks Competition.
Festa dos Santos Populares (Festival of the Popular Saints) – 12-29
The Festa dos Santos Populares is one of the best-loved festivals in Madeira. Dedicated to three saints, traditional parades fill the brightly decorated streets of Funchal and there is plenty of music, bonfires and food stalls. Santo António is the saint of love and many marriages take place during this time. São João – the patron saint of Porto Santo – is honoured with candle-lit balloons. São Pedro is the protector of the fishermen, and lively celebrations are held in the fishing ports of Câmara de Lobos and in Ribeira Brava.
Volta à Madeira – Classic Rally
A fleet of beautifully restored classic and vintage cars are on display at the annual Classic Rally at the end of June. Visitors can admire the unique vintage vehicles along Avenida Arriaga before participants traverse the winding roads for over 400 km through the breathtaking landscapes of the island. The rally is held over a number of stages, from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos, beautiful Machico and Santana.
Madeira Day – 1 July
Madeira Day is a national holiday celebrating the anniversary of the archipelago’s independence from mainland Portugal, granted in 1976 in the Portuguese Constitution. Official ceremonies are held throughout the Autonomous Region of Madeira, while families and friends enjoy picnics and plenty of lively local events.
Festa da Cereja (Cherry Festival) – Câmara de Lobos, Jardim da Serra
The sweet, ruby-coloured fruit of the cherry is the guest of honour at the Festa da Cereja, an annual festival held in Câmara de Lobos. A number of varieties are harvested throughout early summer including the large Norberto variety, which has been adapted to Madeira’s climate and soil. The festive parade, stalls and music offer plenty of entertainment. Don’t forget to sample a glass of ginjinha, a delicious liqueur made from Morello cherries.
24 hours Dancing Folklore Festival – Santana
Experience a taste of authentic Madeiran culture at ‘24 Horas a Bailar’, in the town of Santana. Local troupes perform traditional folk dances in colourful costumes, accompanied by musicians playing Portuguese instruments. Special groups from different parts of the island are invited to perform, while stalls selling local culinary specialities, drinks and crafts line the streets for this festival.
Funchal Jazz Festival – Parque Santa Catarina
The Funchal Jazz Festival has grown into one of Madeira’s most popular cultural events. Visitors flock to the island to enjoy performances by renowned jazz artists from across the globe as well as local bands and musicians. The festival is held annually in Santa Catarina Park, which offers splendid views of the city’s mountainous backdrop and Funchal Bay. Jam sessions, master classes and workshops for jazz aficionados are also popular events.
Festa da Lapa (Limpet festival) – Paul do Mar
For three days in July, Festa da Lapa is a tribute to the limpets harvested in the rocky shores around Paul do Mar, which are an important part of the local economy. Visitors can admire picturesque ocean views while enjoying one of the favourite local dishes – grilled lapas with garlic butter and lemon. Simply delicious! Entertainment includes traditional dancing, DJs and live music.
Banana Exhibit – Madalena do Mar
Festa da Banana is a tribute to one of Madeira’s most important local products, which flourish in huge bunches in Madeira’s pleasant subtropical climate. Held in the town of Madalena do Mar – home to the largest banana plantations on the island – visitors can enjoy the spectacular displays of fruit and flowers, as well as local food and entertainment.
Nos Madeira Summer Opening 2016 – Parque Santa Catarina
The Nos Madeira Summer Opening is a two-day music festival taking place at Parque Santa Catarina, overlooking stunning scenery of Funchal and the Atlantic.
Visit the following shops for tickets and more information:
Fnac (Madeira Shopping)
Balcão MMM Ticket (Fórum Madeira)
Lojas Viagens Abreu
Lojas CTT (Madeira e Porto Santo)
Madeira Island Open (PGA European Tour) – Santo da Serra (dates to be announced)
The Madeira Island Open is one of two Portuguese golfing events on the official PGA European Tour for men. All three golf courses in the archipelago have hosted the event since 1993, including Santo da Serra Golf Club and Porto Santo Golf Club in recent years. Each course is set in a serene natural landscape with spectacular ocean views and lush greens – perfect for championship golf!
Held in the summertime by the sea, Machico Food Festival Week showcases the unique flavours of Madeira’s wonderful cuisine for over 10 days. A wide range of restaurants and bars are set around a stage in Largo da Praça in Machico where visitors can order a mouthwatering selection of traditional local delicacies including fish, limpets, crabs and espetadas, accompanied by Madeira’s finest wines. Music and entertainment are provided throughout the week and the event includes a cocktail festival on the final day.
Madeira Wine Rally (Rali Vinho da Madeira)
Rally cars dominate Madeira’s picturesque landscape over three days during the annual Madeira Wine Rally. This top race attracts a number of European competitors whose skilful driving is tested by the island’s mountainous routes, winding roads and unpredictable weather. Fans flock to watch the race and there are plenty of places where visitors can gather to appreciate the speed and expertise of the drivers. The Madeira Wine Rally is one of the top events in the FIA European Rally Championships.
Monte Festival – 15
The Monte Festival is one of the largest religious festivals on the island. The Nossa Senhora do Monte Church, located in the hills of Monte, is beautifully decorated with flowers in honour of Our Lady of the Monte, who is the patron saint of Madeira. Pilgrims take part in a procession to the church, with the streets covered in flowers. This picturesque place comes alive with entertainment and festivities, including music, dancing and stalls serving local food and drinks.
Funchal City Day – 21
Dia da Cidade do Funchal commemorates the anniversary of the Royal Charter signed by King D. Manuel I in 1508, which officially recognises Funchal as a city. Historically an important sea port for trade, Funchal was the first European city built in the Atlantic. Official ceremonies include a mass at the Colégio Church and an assembly at the Town Hall, as well as plenty of local events and festivities.
Wine Harvest Festival – Porto Santo (dates to be announced)
Porto Santo’s Wine Harvest Festival is one of the biggest events in Porto Santo.
Held in Largo das Palmeiras, visitors enjoy the opportunity to get to know the grape varieties produced on the island. Activities include wine tastings, winemaking demonstrations and an exhibit of some of the tools and equipment used to cultivate and harvest the grapes, including a traditional wine press. Music and folklore groups provide plenty of entertainment.
Madeira Wine Festival – 27th August to 10th September
Recalling the social and economic importance of Madeira wine by reliving old wine-growing traditions, the Madeira Wine Festival is held in September during the main period of grape harvesting. The festival begins in the village of Câmara de Lobos with the actual picking of the grapes, the pickers’ parade, the treading of the grapes and other related traditions that are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. In the centre of Funchal, the Madeira Wine Festival includes light, sound and folk shows, all related to wine-making traditions, and many stands serve typical Madeiran food and drink specialities.
Columbus Festival - Porto Santo Island – 14-16
This festival is dedicated to the great navigator Christopher Columbus and recalls the discoverer’s life in the Madeiran archipelago, his voyages to the Americas and the glorious times of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. Held in Vila Baleira on Porto Santo Island, this week-long event features lots of music, exhibitions, parades and street parties. Columbus’ first visit to Madeira was in 1478, when Funchal was an important sugar trade centre. However, his closest ties to the archipelago result from his marriage to Filipa Moniz, daughter of the first captain-donee of Porto Santo. Columbus lived in the archipelago for a few years during the last quarter of the 15th century and his first child Diogo was born in Porto Santo. The highlight of this week is the re-enactment of Columbus’ and his party’s arrival in Porto Santo’s harbour.
Apple Festival – Ponta do Pargo
Taking place in the rural village of Ponta do Pargo, in the district of Calheta, this event transforms apple production into a very lively and popular feast, bringing together many people from neighbouring regions. The apples of this region are even mentioned by renowned writers who refer to their delicious aroma. This is a very popular festival with the usual outdoor stands selling food and drinks.
Mostra da Sidra (Apple Cider Festival) – Santo da Serra
The Apple Cider Festival promotes the popular Madeiran tradition of making delicious apple cider from the apples grown in the district of Santo da Serra. This festival comprises a small procession, which includes the pressing of the apples, as well as much music and lively activities connected to an agricultural theme.
World Tourism Day – Funchal – 27
Madeira celebrates World Tourism Day with activities and entertainment that recognise the importance of tourism on the island. Downtown Funchal is beautifully decorated with flowers for the occasion and visitors enjoy free entry to a number of gardens and museums in Madeira. Music and folk dancing groups provide plenty of cultural entertainment throughout the day, while visitors will also be greeted with flowers, gifts and entertainment at Madeira Airport.
Madeira Nature Festival – 3-8
Discover the natural beauty of Madeira with the Madeira Nature Festival, a new addition to the island’s annual events calendar. The dynamic programme offers insights into Madeira’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as a wide range of adventurous activities for all ages, from paragliding over the mountains to sailing the deep blue Atlantic.
Madeira Organ Festival
Part of the Cultural Festivals of Madeira, the Madeira Organ Festival is a celebration of the enduring music of the Portuguese organ. Recitals in some of Madeira’s most beautiful churches are held every evening for 10 days in October, featuring beautifully restored organs (dating back to the 18th and 19th century) from Portugal, Italy and England. These dramatic recitals are accompanied by chamber groups, classical musicians and solo performers.
Festa da Maçã - Camacha
This Apple Festival takes place in the rural district of Camacha and consists of an exhibition and street parade, which is very pleasant for both participants and visitors, due to the variety of colours and aromas perfuming the air. Don’t forget to sample some of the freshly-squeezed apple cider.
Happy Halloween – 31
A popular holiday in the UK and North America, Halloween is also celebrated on the island of Madeira. At few shopping centres in Madeira, kids dress up in costume, get their faces painted and then go trick or treating from store to store. The Madeira Magic Park also organises a Halloween party for kids with a program of exciting events. Bars and nightclubs throughout the city also host parties for Halloween.
Chestnut Festival (Festa da Castanha) – Curral das Freiras – 1 November
On the first day of November in the rural district of Curral das Freiras, homage is paid to the chestnut, which grow in abundance in this area. The local population makes the most of the chestnuts as they are used as a main ingredient in many local recipes including baked goods, soups, and liqueur. This feast reflects the numerous cultural and traditional aspects of this rural area.
Funchal International Film Festival – Funchal
Film buffs gather for the annual Funchal International Film Festival, which presents a wide selection of independent films in a variety of genres. Held in the Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, this week-long festival comprises an international competition for feature and short films, as well as animation, documentaries and a local competition for films produced in Madeira. Every year also features a retrospective of the best Portuguese filmmakers.
December 2016 – January 2017
Christmas and New Year’s Entertainment – 1 December 2016 to 8th January 2017
Christmas lights in Madeira – 1st December to January 8th
Christmas and New Year celebrations in Madeira offer a varied programme of cultural, folk and artistic events. The festive season starts in December when Funchal’s streets are magnificently decorated and the colourful lights are switched on in the city’s main streets until early January.