The city of Funchal, the capitol of Madeira, comes alive from November through December with holiday celebrations, making it a great warm weather vacation option. The mild climate of Madeira sticks around throughout the year, but the run-up to Christmas is full of celebrations and special lighting throughout the green hills that surround the town. On New Year's Eve, the city is lit up with spectacular fireworks displays, along with celebrations taking place at hotels, bars, and restaurants. All comes to an end on January 6 (Epiphany), when the lights are extinguished for another year.
November 27 to January 6, 2010 - Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in the Madeirans' habits and are combined with the New Year celebrations in a varied program of cultural, folk and artistic events, beginning in November, when the lights are switched on in the centre of Funchal, lasting all through December and only ending on Twelfth Night.
In mid-November we start preparations for making Funchal a real, life-size Christmas crib. The streets are decorated with lights of all colors and sizes, with designs allusive to the island and the festive season.
In December, the squares are decked with flowers. Poinsettias, holly and lady's slipper orchids all help to brighten up the city's streets. And then there are the Christmas carols ringing out in the streets as if by magic and creating a real festive spirit. The streets fill with people in this atmosphere of great joy. Some are here to do their Christmas shopping, while others just want to enjoy the atmosphere of the days leading up to the festivities. There are also cultural events, such as high-quality concerts and exhibitions about the season and the archipelago.
And the bustle doesn't die down after Christmas, as the last day of the year has to be one to remember. Funchal's amphitheatre is transformed into a magnificent crib illuminated by more than 250,000 colored lights, while the hillsides are dotted with white lights, setting the scene for an unforgettable display.
When the clock strikes twelve on 31 December, the skies are lit up with fire, color and hope for the New Year, which could not get off to a better start.
November 27, 2009 - Opening of the Illuminations of the New Year's Eve Festivities If you are passing through Funchal on this date, in the early evening seek out Avenida Arriaga and watch the switching on of the Christmas illuminations, corresponding to the official opening of the New Year's Eve Festivities in Madeira. With the centre of the city lit up for Christmas, begins the Festa (Festivity), the term used by the people of Madeira to call the celebration period of Christmas and New Year's Eve. The Festa is lived intensively by the people of Madeira right up to 6th January. The official program includes exhibitions, concerts, and an entire program of events which will be announced in detail during the month of November. The following are the most important dates:
- 27th November - opening of the Christmas illuminations in the centre of Funchal
- 04th December - general illumination of the entire amphitheatre of Funchal 11th December - beginning of the Christmas exhibitions on Avenida Arriaga and other central locations of the city
- 23rd December - Market Night 28th December - St. Sylvester Race 31st December - New Year's Eve Firework Display 6th January, 2009 - Twelfth Night Festival and End of the Madeira Festivities