Celebrate the holidays like never before in Madeira. The Madeira Christmas and end of Year Festivities program is a once in a lifetime experience that takes place the whole month of December. The man city of Funchal is bedecked in colorful and decorative lights illuminated the city centre in a magical glow.
Visitors to the festival can enjoy a rich program of cultural, religious, and artistic attractions all the way until the 8th of January when the festival ends. The New Year’s program includes a spectacular fireworks extravaganza, which has been officially named the largest fireworks show in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.
What are some of the exciting events to look forward to? You won’t want to miss these special activities:
On December 23rd, locals do their last minute Christmas shopping, and the activity and excitement is palpable in the air. Madeirans move towards the Farmers market where booths are open all night selling various goods. The streets are only open to pedestrians and there is a great festive feeling to this special night. At dark the main attraction commences with the Christmas carols performance and the locals participate in the revelry until dawn.
Funchal Road Race
On December 28th the Funchal Road Race takes place. The event is organized by the Madeira Athletics Association and brings many Portuguese and international athletes to the islands. There is much excitement brought to Funchal with this race, and many look forward to it all year.
New Years Fireworks Show
On December 31st, there is an eight minute fireworks show that offers visitors a breathtaking spectacle. The fireworks are set off from several locations including the waterfront, the city center, the amphitheater, the sea, and Porto Santo Island. This grand finale is one of Madeira’s most famous events for locals and tourists alike. I was also named the largest fireworks in the world by the Guinness book of World Records in 2006.
Twelfth Night Songs
On the evening of January 5th to 6th the Twelfth Night songs are sung in local houses throughout the area. This is done to recreate the traditional door to door singing of Madeiran songs. To mark the end of the festival, the musical “Cantar os Reis” is produced in the Auditorium of the Municipal Garden of Funchal.
Additional highlights include:
Childbirth Masses or “Missas do Parto”
From December 16th through Christmas Eve’s midnight mass, the Childbirth Masses take place. There are nine masses in total and are celebrating very early in the morning. The mass concludes with attendees gathered in the churchyard to hear chanting and musical instruments, and finally snack, spirits, cakes, and liquors.
In Câmara de Lobos and Camacha, which are parishes in Madeira, the philharmonic traditions are kept and the band goes door to door playing sweet traditional music and greatly enhancing the festivities. This early morning music awakens the locals to the joyful sounds and holiday’s excitement.