Madeira Flower Festival – Festa da Flor 2012

With the arrival of spring, the city of Funchal turns into a inebriating floral stage filled with enchantment.

The magic of this event starts on Saturday morning, with the Children’s Parade, on which, hundreds of children dressed for the occasion event to the Municipio Square where a beautiful flower mural is built, that is symbolically named “The Wall of Hope” (Muro da Esperança).

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FusiON Art by Porto Bay @ Zona Velha

More than 30 Portuguese and Spanish artists participated, live and in public, in ON by Porto Bay, … a fusion art festival that took place in Funchal’s historic Old Town.

Event organised by the Porto Bay Hotel Group designed to foster urban entertainment events in the city of Funchal, with the idea that private organisations should also contribute to making the city a more dynamic place. Festival aims to raise funds for charitable purposes.

For more information: www.onbyportobay.com

Rua de Santa Maria, Funchal

The Old Town (Zona Velha) of Funchal is one of most attractive areas of the city. One can experience the real typical surroundings and local life of the city … taking you back in time to when the first settlement of the island started. One of the romantic narrow cobbled streets that we recommend is Rua de Santa Maria.

Rua de Santa Maria is the oldest street of the city, that was first laid out in 1430 through the neighborhood with the same name Santa Maria Maior. It has access to many old buildings with refurbished facades, which offer a glimpse into the city’s traditional architecture. It is a pleasant street to visit with several restaurants and cafes with typical decors and traditional interiors. Also you will enjoy of the numerous doors and entrances that have been revamped by artists, thanks to the project “Art of Open Doors” (Arte de Portas Abertas).

What is Carnival / Carnaval?

Soon the Carnival fever will start here on Madeira Island … see previous post Carnival – Mardi Gras – Carnaval

But have you asked yourself … what does the word “Carnival” stand for?

Wikipedia offers some answers:

The Carnival Season is a holiday period during the two weeks before the traditional Christian fasting of Lent. The origin of the name “Carnival” is unclear. The most common theory is that the name comes from the Italian carne- or carnovale, from Latin carnem (meat) + levare (lighten or raise), literally “to remove the meat” or “stop eating meat”.

Also how do other countries celebrate it?

England

In England Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as Pancake Day, but apart from the serving of pancakes and occasional pancake races and football matches (see Royal Shrovetide Football), little else of Carnival survived the Reformation. Caribbean influence has led to the establishment of several “West Indian” carnivals, but these are not held in Carnival season. The leading festivities are Notting Hill Carnival in August (reputedly the world’s largest), and Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival in November.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands (where it is called ‘Vastenavond’, ‘Karnaval’ or ‘Carnaval’), the last day of Carnival, the day before Ash Wednesday, is held exactly 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter. Dutch Carnival is most celebrated in Catholic regions, mostly the southern provinces Noord Brabant and Limburg, where it is also known as Vastenavond (literally “Fasting evening”, although that strictly refers only to the last day). The most popular places where Carnival is held (although every city, town or village celebrates it) are Maastricht, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Bergen op Zoom and Breda.

Germany

Germany, especially the western part (North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate) is famous for Karneval celebrations such as parades and costume balls. In the South of Germany and Austria carnival is called Fasching and especially Munich developed a special kind of celebration. In Franconia and some other parts of Germany a carnival is called Fastnacht. Although the festival and party season in Germany starts as early as the beginning of January, the actual carnival week starts on the Thursday (“Altweiberfastnacht”) before Ash Wednesday.

Spain

Arguably the most famous locales in Spain are Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Tarragona and specially Cádiz, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Aguilas, where the celebration normally takes place the week before Lent. At Santa Cruz de Tenerife the parties of the cities are not only well known in Spain, but also worldwide. It is famous for thematic costumes, and the election of the Carnival Queen. There is also a parade of Drag-Queens, known as reinonas.

Brazil

An important part of the Brazilian Carnival takes place in Rio de Janeiro, with samba schools. These are large, social entities with thousands of members and a theme each year. Blocos are small informal groups also with a definite theme, usually satirical of the current political situation, and bandas are samba musical bands usually formed by enthusiasts in the same neighborhood.

Portugal

Carnival in Portugal is celebrated throughout the country, most famously in Ovar, Madeira, Loulé, Nazaré, and Torres Vedras. The carnivals in Podence and Lazarim incorporate pagan traditions such as the careto, while the Torres Vedras celebration is probably the most typical Portuguese carnival.

Ironically, although Portugal introduced Christianity and the customs related to Catholic practice to Brazil, the country has begun to adopt some aspects of Brazilian-style Carnival celebrations, in particular those of Rio de Janeiro with sumptuous parades, samba and other Brazilian musical elements.

Madeira

On the Island of Madeira, Carnaval maintains its distinctive local roots as well. Funchal, the island’s capital, wakes up on the Friday morning before Ash Wednesday to the sound of brass bands and Carnaval parades throughout the downtown area. That night festivities continue with concerts and shows in the Praça do Município for five consecutive days. The Main Carnaval street parade takes place on Saturday evening with thousands of Samba dancers flooding the streets of Funchal. The traditional public street Carnaval takes place on Tuesday, where the island’s population displays its ingenuity and imagination by creating daring caricatures for the parade.

More information about “carnival” you can read at Wikipedia Carnival

What visitors really want?

The German television company WDR has broadcast at the beginning of this month in their weekly travel program Wunderschön! (Beautiful!), a 90 minutes report of Madeira “Blumeninsel im Atlantik” (Island of Flowers), presented by Tamina Kallert.

WebTV Madeira “Blumeninsel im Atlantik” (90 min. German)

Although it is in German and 1 hour and a half long … it is worth to watch this webTV program.

One thing I noticed when watching this German travel report ….. from it you can learn what visitors want to see and visit. Remember, this is a 1 hour and a half long TV program, so it should cover the most important attractions and things-to-do that a German traveler will be looking for in Madeira. I got a good impression of what that is … but I leave it up to you to find it out yourself. I am curious if you come to the same conclusion as I did.

After watching the TV report one will learn that all the attractions that were covered by the German Wunderschön! group had one thing in common …. they all missed one characteristic …. namely “modern”. Talking in Internet-terms … if you could tag all the attractions mentioned in the TV program … the word “modern”, “new-flanged” or “futuristic” would not be one of them. In the German travel coverage I missed things like modern entities such as Story Center, Casa das Mudas, Madeira Magic, Santana Theme park, trip with one of the catamarans, double deck buses, shopping malls/centers, and also none of the modern hotels were mentioned.

My conclusion is that visitors prefer to experience the old-fashioned. Searching for old traditions and typical things that they do not get to see in their home country or have been lost during the modernization. Just ask a Madeira visitor to name the characteristics of Madeira …. and you will hear most of them mentioning the same subjects that were covered in the German TV program. This is a lesson that one can learn from.

My advice to (future) entrepreneurs on Madeira: learn first the Madeiran (old) culture …. search for images of (lost) traditions …. and if you can restore (part of it) back …. then you will be a winner in the area of tourism.

Noite do Mercado – Christmas Night Market

Noite do Mercado (Night of the Market) is a traditional celebration in Funchal that will take place tonight and will last all night long. The location of this event will take place in the famous Funchal market (Mercado dos Lavradores) and the streets surrounding the market. It will be crowded with joyful people creating a real festive happening …. with lots of singing Christmas carols, dancing, drinking and having fun.

The bars in the area are opened all night and will be serving traditional drinks. Also the Christmas traditional carne vinho alhos (meat with wine and garlic) will go from hand to the mouth. Also present is a vast display of regional fruit and vegetable being sold … handy for those who want to do a last minute grocery shopping.
Continue reading “Noite do Mercado – Christmas Night Market”

Monte Festival

One of the most popular religious (folk) festivals of Madeira will take place … the Monte FestivalA Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mount).

With this festival Funchal commemorates the deliverance of the people from hunger and plague. Celebrations consists of a city fair which lasts through the night, with braziers and all sorts of wonderful Madeirense delicacies to feed the both inhabitants and tourists. There is no need to get up early the next day as it is a national holiday. People head to church to celebrate Mass, which is followed by a procession from the church in which the devout pilgrims of the Senhora do Monte thank their saint for all the blessings they have received over the year.

The Church of Our Lady of the Mount, patron saint of Madeira, is also very popular with pilgrims who come here to pray or fulfill vows by the tomb of Emperor Karl I of Austria. Karl I died in 1922 at Quinta do Monte, now called Quinta Jardins do Imperador or Quinta of the Emperor´s Gardens. It is a lively celebration lasting two days and transforms the romantic, picturesque parish of Monte into one of the busiest places in Madeira, full of food and drink stalls and plenty of music. (source: Turismo da Madeira)

Regional Events Month of July

11 to 13 July – 53rd Livestock and Agribusiness Fair – Porto Moniz
Organized for the first time in 1955 in order to encourage development of animal rearing, this has become a rural event of particular importance to the Region. Various exhibits of animals and objects related to local farming are available for visitors to see in Santa – Porto Moniz. This takes place in a rural environment, and there are many outdoor stands providing home-made bread, espetada (beef skewer) and drinks.

19 to 20 July – 5th Regional Banana Fair – Madalena do Mar
The parish of Madalena do Mar is the venue for the Regional Banana Fair. This event, with several forms of revelry, is held in honor of one of the most important local agricultural products: the Madeira banana.

20 July – 5th Traditional Madeira Fishing Boat Regatta – Funchal
Funchal bay will be the scenery for the 5th Traditional Madeira Fishing Boat Regatta, which will start at 4 pm. The regatta course starts at Funchal pier and ends in Barreirinha, in the old part of the city. This annual event brings together sea folk from and outside the city and is part of the commemorations marking the 500th anniversary of Funchal city.

23rd July – Madeira International Athletics Meeting – Ribeira Brava
This is an athletics event, promoted by the Athletics Association of the Autonomous Region of Madeira. It is held in the Madeira Sports Centre, located at Ribeira Brava, on the West Coast.

23 to 26 July – Roots of the Atlantic (Raízes do Atlântico) Festival – Funchal
This is a traditional music festival with the participation of national and international artists within the area of World Music, as well as the best groups of traditional music from Madeira. The festival shall take place at the Municipal Garden auditorium in Funchal, with concerts starting at 9:30 pm every day.

31 July to 2 August – Madeira Wine Rally
This is one of the most important trials of the European Championship, and the most important sport event in the region. World-famous rally drivers bring their cars to this competition. Thousands of people fill the mountain slopes in order to find a good spot to watch the cars speeding.

Source: Madeira Tourism Board

Christopher Columbus Festival

On 13th to 15th of September Porto Santo will devote these days to one of its most important habitant who lived several years on this island ……. Christopher Columbus!

1478 was the year that Columbus traveled to Madeira for the first time. In those years Funchal ’s was one of the largest sugar trade centres of the world. But for Chris there was another reason for him visiting the island … namely Donna Filipa Moniz, daughter of the first donee of Porto Santo …. Bartolomeu Perestrelo. The discoverer of the new world his first conquest would be marrying Filipa … which was gifted with the birth of their first child, Diogo, who was born in Porto Santo.

The festival on Porto Santo is therefore dedicated to Columbus his life on the islands. It is held in Vila Baleira and involves music, exhibitions and parades recalling the age of the Portuguese discoveries and the voyages to the new world.