Caniçal is a little fishing village with a rich religious tradition and it is also the oldest parish of Madeira Island.
On the third weekend of September fishermen go out to the sea in a procession of Nossa Senhora da Piedade, which is happening at the same time as the famous ‘Festa de Nossa Senhora da Piedade’ (Fair of Our Lady of Mercy).
On the Saturday of this ‘festa’ colourfully decorated boats sail around in the bay of Caniçal, while the contest of choosing the boat that is going to carry the patron saint is taking place.
Then the elected fishing boat anchors at the harbour, fishermen climb to the top of the hill, where the chapel is located and the patron saint is brought down into the boat. There is another procession on the following Sunday when the patron saint is returned to the chapel.
Apart from its sandy beach, this feast is the major attraction of Caniçal, and it is quite an outstanding celebration.