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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.



Madeira 2023 Events - Main Attractions

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.

 

Madeira Carnival – 15th to 26th of February

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.

Madeira Flower Festival – 27th of April to 28th of May

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.

 

Sixteenth-century Market of Machico - 2nd to 4th of June

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.

 

Atlantic Festival - 2nd to 24th of July

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.

Madeira Flower Festival

Sixteenth-century market in Machico

Madeira Wine Rally

Atlantic Festival

Colombo Festival in Porto Santo

Madeira Wine Rally - 3rd to 5th of August

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.

 

Colombo Festival – 21st to 24th of September  

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 in Madeira - 16th December to 15th of January

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

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 Festival - dates TBA

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

Semana do Mar do Porto Moniz (Sea Week)- 24th to 30th July

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.

 

Gastronomic Week of Machico - dates to be announced

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 Festivities – dates TBA

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.

 

Other popular festivities

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:

  • Arraial of Saint Amaro Santo Amaro, Santa Cruz - January 11-15
  • Anona Festival, Faial - March
  • Onion Festival, Caniço - May
  • Arraial of Our Lady of Health, Lameiros – August 1-2
  • Arraial of Monte, Funchal – August 14-15
  • Feast of Bom Jesus and the Blessed Sacrament, Ponta Delgada -September 3-4
  • Arraial of Piedade, Caniçal – September 16-18
  • Chestnut Festival, Curral das Freiras – November 1


Cultural and Sporting Events

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.

 

Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) - 19th to 23rd April

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.

 

Funchal Jazz Festival - dates to be announced

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.

Aqui e Acolá Festival - 26th to 29th May

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.

 

Madeira SUP Challenge - 27th - 28th May

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.

 

Classics in Magnolia - 29th and 30th July

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.

Madeira Legend Rally 2023 - October

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.

 

Summer Opening 2023 - 14th to 15th and 21st to 22nd July

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.

 

Other cultural and sports events

  • Trail of Porto Moniz - 12 February
  • Book Fair, Funchal - March 24th to April 2nd
  • Madeira Flower Classic Auto Parade, Funchal - 7th May
  • Madeira Classic Car Revival, Funchal - 20th - 21st May 
  • Expomadeira, Funchal - July
  • SANTAcurtas, Santa Cruz - August
  • São Silvestre Race, Funchal - 28th December

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