Madeira is an astonishing destination all year, but if you are searching for a special place to celebrate Christmas, visit Madeira.
The traditions of this island, the climate, the local gastronomy and the main events of this festivity, will surely surprise you.
Visit the typical Ethnographic village
Madeira’s Christmas season presents you with multiple curiosities, like a typical village placed at Largo da Restauração, where visitors may discover and taste some of the season’s typical drinks such as poncha and home-made liquors, in addition to other Christmas delicacies such as the Madeira Honey Cake, the Bolo do Caco, (typical home-made bread), and also delicious Sandes de Carne-vinho e alhos (sandwiches with chunks of pork marinated in wine and garlic).
Feel the magic of Madeira’s Christmas Illuminations and decorations
One of the main highlights of Madeira Christmas celebrations, are its most singular and magnificent Christmas illuminations and decorations.
Funchal as well as other villages around the Island, is intricately decorated an ornamented with enchanted Christmas lights and decorations, scattered along the islands, many streets and buildings, turning the Madeira into a whimsical wonderland setting filled with colour and fantasy.
Traditional Childbirth Masses
One of Madeira’s most popular Christmas traditions are the emblematical Childbirth masses, a set of nine religious ceremonies (“novenas”), taking place in parishes all throughout the island, between December, 16th and Christmas Eve, at the early dawn.
After the mass, parishioners gather in churchyards singing Christmas carols, joined by traditional music groups playing string instruments, accordions and castanets.
This very lively occasion invites people to enjoy the typical “despiques” (rivalry songs), and also to taste some local home-made Christmas treats, such as the honey biscuits “broas” and cakes, in addition to the typical liquors.
Enjoy the Christmas Markets
Christmas markets in Madeira are special, not only for the beauty of flowers on display, such as the famous “slippers” (Paphiopedilum sp.), but also for the diversity of food, tropical fruits and festive atmosphere.
Throughout December, you can find Christmas markets at Avenida Arriaga. The famous “Night at the Market” takes place on December 23, at the Farmers Market. As the night falls, streets around the market close to car traffic while thousands of people arrive to do the last Christmas shopping.
You’ll find many street stalls selling food, drinks, Christmas trees, flower decorations and all the necessary goods for this special festivity. From 8 p.m. onwards, locals and visitors gather at the fish market to sing popular Christmas carols. Celebration continues with music till dawn.
Music and ballet
Christmas songs light up our souls and allow us to recall festive memories. Music concerts take place in Funchal, at Avenida Arriaga.
You’ll find plenty of entertainment with philharmonic bands, folk groups, clarinets, mandolins, accordions, guitars and children’s choirs.
At Baltazar Dias Theatre, you can attend beautiful ballet performances and memorable concerts of the Classical Orchestra of Madeira.
The English Church of Funchal also presents wonderful Christmas Music shows.