Carnival is magical, and Madeira knows how to celebrate in style. Taking place from the 19th February to the 1st of March. The event is about fun, family, friends and great festivities. Kicking off with the Compadres Festival in Santana on the 15th and 16th, this event heralds the opening of the carnival and as such two figurines are subjected to a mock trial and accused of many crimes before being burned; much to the delight of the spectators. The festival is lively, fun-filled and Santana is the place to go if you want to get into the party spirit of things.
Bursting in on the scene is Carnival with its street entertainment, themed parties – transvestite nights are always good fun – and music. Avenida Arriaga is the focal point of much of the entertainment including the popular and colourful senior citizen Solidarity Procession and the Children’s parade, which has about a thousand fancy-dressed youngsters taking part in their very own special joyful procession. It’s fourteen days of excitement and colour with the main parade being that all-important event.
Taking place on Saturday the 22nd in Funchal (Avenida do Mar) the main parade explodes into action with its music, brightly coloured costumed participants and decorated floats. It’s the pinnacle of a year of hard work and dedication of all those taking part and does something that Madeira is so good at; creating an event that brings together all those taking part, whether it's in the parade, backstage, or as a spectator, this procession is an assault on the senses with its magical, noisy, bright, cheerful atmosphere.
Carnival is also celebrated around the island in many of the principal towns such as Câmara de Lobos, Ribeira Brava, Machico, Santa Cruz and Porto Santo all holding parades, parties and great entertainment.
On Tuesday the 25th, the ‘Trapalhão or ‘Slapstick’ parade takes place through the centre of Funchal. Also known as the ‘People’s Parade,’ it has no boundaries or themes and therefore is a bright and brilliant mixture of traditional ideas and costumes, political and social satire and for many the chance to dress up and have fun.
It’s fun; it's brilliant and unmissable. Limited seating is available for the main parades, but you need to book early to reserve your seat.