Talk to Us
Fill in your details and we will contact you
Madeira's natural landscapes and mild climate make it possible to make the most of every day in the Pearl of the Atlantic. Still, if you're asking yourself, "What to do in Madeira?" be assured there is plenty to do and many places to explore.
There is always something happening in Madeira, with events for all tastes and ages. Big celebrations such as the Flower Festival or the Christmas festivities attract thousands of people. However, if you prefer to avoid crowds, you can find many other cultural activities, popular festivals and sporting events worth experiencing.
Read our full guide: Living in Madeira
Madeira's main cultural attractions attract thousands of locals and tourists alike. Large events like the Carnival or the Flower Festival are the trademarks of Madeira.
Carnival is one of the biggest festivals in Madeira. The Madeiran Carnival season opens with the Festa dos Compadres in Santana on the 10th and 11th of February. This is a peculiar event, where they dress large dummies in typical Madeiran costumes. These are called "compadres" and "comadres", after the Portuguese words denoting the relation between the two sets of parents of a husband and wife. These dummies are subject to humorous and entertaining public judgement. There are various stands where the island’s gastronomic specialities are served, a parade of floats and comic theatres alluding to social and political current affairs.
The Carnival festivities begin on the 15th. All over the island, there are parades with music, dance groups, floats, and other entertainment. In Funchal, there are two main parades. The Cortejo Alegórico is where the most famous Madeiran dance groups parade. There is also the Cortejo Trapalhão, in which the groups are smaller, and there is a more comic, satirical and informal component. There are themed parties throughout the week, culminating with the so-called "Burial of the Bone" the following weekend.
The famous Flower Festival is a trademark of Madeira. With the arrival of spring, the whole island is in bloom. In Funchal, the festivities begin with the Children's Parade, where hundreds of children dress up and parade down Avenida do Mar to Praça do Município to place a flower on the Wall of Hope. The following days give way to the Allegoric Parade, with various figurants and floats parading through Funchal and other allusive events throughout the city of Funchal.
At the beginning of June, the city of Machico goes back five centuries in time. Now in its 16th edition, the Sixteenth-century Market is a medieval fair that pays tribute to the (re)discovery of Madeira in the 15th century, with hundreds of knights, merchants, street artists, dancers and other performers recreating the aura of the 15th century. Throughout the three days of the Market, there are several attractions, such as the already famous landing of the Santa Maria ship, audio-visual shows, jousting and other activities.
The Atlantic Festival gives place to a series of cultural activities throughout Madeira and Porto Santo. Throughout July, this festival celebrates music and art, culminating with a pyrotechnic show every Saturday night in the bay of Funchal. There are various music events all over the Island as part of the Madeira Music Festival, complemented by art exhibitions and fireworks.
This is the biggest event in Madeiran motor racing. With more than 60 years of history, the Madeira Wine Rally attracts thousands of spectators to the Madeiran roads in the expectation of seeing some of the best Portuguese drivers at the wheel of fantastic rally cars.
This competition starts with a special race in Avenida do Mar (Funchal) and has stages all over the island. Madeira's winding roads and steep topography come together to create a challenging and breathtaking race.
Porto Santo, 21 to 24 September, celebrates the age of the discoveries. Christopher Columbus married and lived for a few years on the island of Porto Santo. This festival takes you back to the 15th century, with music, exhibitions and street entertainment, one of the highlights being the recreation of the landing in Porto Santo of this famous explorer.
Christmas is a magical time in Madeira. It is intensely lived by the Madeirans and is also one of the seasons that brings more visitors to Madeira. The festive charm, folklore shows, and a fireworks display at the end of the year are the main attractions of Christmas in Madeira.
We have dedicated an article to Madeiran Christmas. Find out more about this special time in Madeira.
Popular festivals, or "arraiais" as they are known in Madeira, are an essential part of the Madeiran tradition. Many originate from Christian celebrations, while others commemorate important dates in local agriculture.
Wine and Embroidery are two of Madeira's ex-libris. This event, organised by the Madeira Wine and Embroidery Institute (IVBAM), aims to celebrate these two products through various events such as embroidery workshops, wine tastings, artistic exhibitions, and folklore activities.
Traditional street decorations of "arraiais" in Madeira
The village of Porto Moniz in northern Madeira Island is known for its natural swimming pools and breathtaking scenery, from the sea to the Laurissilva Forest. During the Sea Week, it is possible to attend cultural, sports and gastronomic events as well as concerts of national and international artists.
Usually held in the last week of July in the city centre, the Machico Gastronomic Week is one of the oldest gastronomic events in Madeira. For ten days, various stalls serve typical dishes of the local gastronomy to the sound of concerts by several local and national music artists.
São Vicente Festival is one of the most emblematic in Madeira. Religious commemorations, cultural events and concerts of famous artists take place in this village on the north coast of Madeira in the middle of summer. There's no shortage of stalls serving food and drinks and plenty of entertainment during this week.
There are popular festivals and parties all over the cities, towns and parishes of Madeira and Porto Santo. In the summer, some of these events attract thousands of people who come here looking for fun and socialising. All these popular festivals are worth visiting, but the following are some of the most famous:
Read our full guide: Living in Madeira
On an island with Madeira's natural beauty, it's no surprise that there are many sporting and cultural activities and events. The great diversity of landscapes allows the practice of various sports throughout the year.
MIUT is the best-known trail race in Madeira and annually attracts thousands of participants of various nationalities, being part of national and international championships of this sport. The main route crosses the whole island, connecting the town of Porto Moniz to the city of Machico, which is over 115 km in length. There are also several shorter trails with entries open to the public.
The Funchal Jazz Festival takes place annually on two stages in Funchal (Parque de Santa Catarina and Jardim Municipal. Concerts by local musicians and world-renowned bands happen alongside jam sessions, workshops, and professional classes.
In the village of Ponta do Sol on the south coast of Madeira takes place the Aqui e Acolá Festival, a celebration of art, culture, and tradition. For four days, thousands of people come together to experience art, cinema, theatre, and music events by the sea.
This is the main Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) competition in Portugal and is part of the EUROTOUR European circuit. It takes place in May in the bay of Funchal and brings together athletes of various nationalities and categories and many fans of this sport.
Madeirans have a passion for classic cars. Classics in Magnólia not only allows you to see some of the finest examples of classic cars in Madeira (some over 100 years old!) but also recreates the charming ambience of the 20th century in a proper tribute to the automobile and the motorist. This event will be held at the magnificent Quinta Magnólia in Funchal on July 29th and 30th.
Over the 60 years of the Madeira Wine Rally, many legendary cars and drivers have passed through Madeira. The Madeira Legend Rally aims to revisit the history of past automobile competitions in an event that includes old cars that have delighted Madeiran motorsports fans.
The biggest music festival in Madeira, Summer Opening, is now in its 10th edition. Renowned musicians will step on stage at Santa Catarina Park, in Funchal, between two weekends in July.