Madeira is an amazing destination all year, but if you are looking 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.
Christmas lights switch-on takes place on December 1st, in Funchal. Thousands of lights glow on Christmas displays in the streets, buildings, gardens and mountains of this beautiful island. Be amazed by the creativity, harmony and vibrant colours of this attraction in Madeira. Here are some images to light up your curiosity.
There are many religious customs associated with this season in Madeira. Tradition says that families should build a nativity scene to celebrate the birth of Jesus, on Christmas Eve. The madeiran “lapinha” features Jesus Child standing at the top of a few steps, decorated with fruits, such as tangerines.
You’ll find different nativity scenes, inspired by the tradition and devotion of Madeiran. Be sure to visit and photograph your favourite ones, not only at Avenida Arriaga, in Funchal, but also in other areas of the Island.
The Madeiran gastronomy deserves special attention at Christmas. Do not miss the opportunity to taste some of the local delicacies. These include wine and garlic pork, pickled onions, warm chicken broths, sweet honey cakes and homemade liqueurs such as “tintantum”.
4.Children’s Christmas Village
Visit the Municipal Garden of Funchal and feel the excitement that lives in this Village. Children and adults discover the joys of a long wooden Christmas train, charming little houses, Santa’s sleigh and many other curiosities. Get your camera ready for a picture with Santa Claus!
5.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.
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.
7.Masses of childbirth and Midnight Mass
Masses of childbirth are one of the most remarkable events of Madeiran Christmas. From the 16th to the 24th of December, 9 masses of childbirth are celebrated, representing the 9 months of pregnancy of Virgin Mary. These masses occur at dawn, accompanied by songs of devotion and praise to Virgin Mary. They remain as a symbol of union with the local community. Once the mass ends, celebration continues in the churchyard with christmas songs, food and drinks.
Christmas Mass is celebrated on December 24, at midnight. Inside local churches, vows of hope and peace are renewed, with the birth of Jesus. After the mass, families and friends gather in private homes or hotels to celebrate this special evening and exchange Christmas gifts.