Cantar os Reis (Singing of the Kings) – Funchal – 5-6
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.
February – Madeira Events
Festa dos Compadres – Santana – (date to be announced)
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.
March – Madeira Events
Madeira Carnival – 26th Feb – 5th March 2014 (Main Parade 1st and Fun Parade 4th)
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!
April – Madeira Events
Festival de Jardins do Funchal (Festival of the Gardens) – 13 April 2012 to 11 March 2013
The Festival de Jardins do Funchal aims to promote Funchal’s beautiful gardens, outdoor spaces and unique flora. Held in the Jardim Almirante Reis in the historic centre of Funchal, local residents, gardeners, artists and local businesses can take part by creating mini-gardens for the community and holidaymakers to enjoy. Allocated lots are provided free of charge by the Funchal Town Hall. Participants maintain this community garden for 11 months and prizes are awarded at the end of the festival.
Madeira Film Festival – 15-21
Hotel Reid’s Palace and Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias
Cultural Festival (Book Fair) – Funchal – 25th April to 5th May
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.
May – Madeira Events
Festa do Limão (Lemon Festival) Ilha – Santana – 4-5
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.
Reid’s Palace Classic Auto Show – 11
Car lovers rejoice! The annual Reid’s Palace Classic Auto Show is an outstanding exhibition of the finest vintage and classic cars on the island of Madeira. Stroll along Estrada Monumental in Funchal – from Reid’s Palace to Largo da Paz – 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.
Madeira Flower Festival – 11-12
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.
Madeira Island Open (PGA European Tour) – Santo da Serra – 16th – 19th
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!
Festa da Cebola (Onion Festival) – Caniço – 17-19
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!
Festas da Sé – Funchal – 24 May to 1 June
The streets surrounding the Funchal Cathedral come alive at the end of May during the Festas da Sé – a typical Madeiran arraial (street party). Local restaurants in Rua de João Tavira, Rua do Bispo, Rua da Queimada de Cima, Rua da Queimada de Baixo and Rua dos Ferreiros 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 music from singing groups and brass bands.
Atlantic Festival – Fireworks Contest – 8, 15, 22 and 29
Festa dos Santos Populares (Festival of the Popular Saints) – 12-30
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.
Festa da Cereja (Cherry Festival) – Câmara de Lobos, Jardim da Serra – 11-15
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.
XXIV Volta à Madeira – Classic Rally (date to be announced)
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.
Madeira Island Summer Opening – 26 & 27
Funchal Jazz Festival – Parque Santa Catarina – 4, 5 and 6
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.
Banana Exhibit – Madalena do Mar – 6-7
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.
48 hours Dancing Folklore Festival – Santana – 19-21
Experience a taste of authentic Madeiran culture at ‘48 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.
Festa da Lapa (Limpet festival) – Paul do Mar – 19-21
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.
Machico Gastronomy – 26 July to 4 August
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.
Rali Vinho da Madeira (European Rally Championship) – 2, 3 and 4
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 Music Fest – (date to be announced)
Get ready to rock! Funchal Music Fest is the major summer music festival in Madeira, held over three days in beautiful Santa Catarina Park in Funchal. Starting at 20:00 every evening, the festival includes food stalls and an entertainment area. The Fan Kit ticket offers access to the festival for three days as well as food and drink vouchers. Funchal Music Fest also has a focus on environmental sustainability and attracts a number of popular local and international musicians every year.
This year’s confirmed artists:
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 – (date 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OctoberFesta da Maçã – Camacha, (date to be announced)
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.
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.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.NovemberChestnut Festival (Festa da Castanha) – Curral das Freiras 3 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 – (date to be announced)
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.
I Festival do Vinho do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira – (date to be announced)
The 1st 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.
December 2013 – January 2014
Christmas and New Year’s Entertainment – 1 December 2013 to 6th January 2014
Christmas lights in Madeira – 8th December to January 6th
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.