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Discover an island in celebration as it prepares body and mind for one of its richest annual traditions, followed by the glitz and glamour of the end-of-year festivity!
Christmas and New Year’s Festivities: December 1st to January 7th, 2018
With the opening of the decorative lights across the streets of Funchal, the programme of Christmas and New Year’s Festivities begins. These celebrations are part of a rich and extensive programme of cultural, religious, ethnographic and artistic events that run through the entire month of December, ending with the Twelfth Night Songs, or epiphany celebrations.
At this time of year, Funchal itself becomes a genuine nativity scene of life-size proportions. Music is a constant presence in the city’s streets and squares, with concerts and performances by philharmonic and folklore groups. There are also many Christmas performances that present a veritable tableau of the island’s traditions, as Madeira gets ready for the festivities with a special spirit and energy.
The people of Madeira call their landmark Christmas celebrations “the feast”. Beginning in early December, Madeiran households prepare nativity scenes and various delicacies and Christmas sweets with dedication and joy, namely the famous honey cakes and honey cookies, homemade liqueurs and one of the season’s most traditional dishes, ‘vinha d’alho’ beef with garlic wine sauce.
Another lively tradition in this period is the celebration of the 9 Childbirth Masses to announce the Birth of the Child Jesus, which take place at dawn and are accompanied by popular songs and traditional seasonal refreshments.
On 23 December, the traditional Night at the Market takes place, where the Madeiran people take the opportunity to make last-minute purchases of regional products and flowers and taste the many typical seasonal snacks and drinks on offer.
After Christmas, the fun continues in the lead-up to the New Year’s Eve celebrations, culminating in the world-famous fireworks display that was officially recognised in 2006 as the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records. This impressive pyrotechnical spectacle takes place among the thousands of lamps that adorn the city of Funchal, providing a magnificent setting of rare beauty. With the ringing in of the 1st of January, the heavens light up with colour and hope as a new year begins!