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Madeira’s Carnival is a special festivity celebrated all over the Island.
Madeira’s Carnival 2016 starts on the 30th January and finishes on the 9th February.
Festivities are deeply rooted in the traditions of Madeirans and involves musical parades, partying and dressing up in unusual clothes and masks.
Although most events, take place in Funchal, wherever you’re staying during your holiday in Madeira, make sure not to miss these 6 things to do in Madeira’s Carnival.
1. Discover the ‘COMPADRES’ Party in Santana (Saturday and Sunday 30-31th January)
This festivity marks the official start of Carnival in Madeira and it is one of the most emblematic events of Santana (a parish in the North east of Madeira). Thousands of locals and tourists attend a fun public judgment of both male “Compadres” and female “Comadres” satirical figures. The purpose is to relieve social tensions and criticism, relating events that occurred in the community during that year. This event is followed by music, typical food and lots of entertainment.
2. Enjoy the CHILDREN’S CARNIVAL (Friday, 5th February)
Dressing up in Carnival costumes is one of the favorite traditions of kids on the island. Parents, teachers and children all get involved in making costumes to wear for the school carnival. Thousands of children from the various schools in Funchal then get together in one of the city’s main avenues: Avenida Arriaga. From incredibly creative costumes made from recycled materials, to the old classics, like cowboys and princesses, you can see it all in this adorable parade.
It takes place on the Friday morning, before Carnival, so get ready to clap, sigh and be delighted by the joy of children embracing the Carnival spirit, where we can all become our favorite heroes.
3. Have fun in the Night’s PARADE (Saturday, 6th February)
This is one of the most magical nights in Madeira, where thousands of visitors and locals come to Funchal to watch the Carnival’s floating parade.
Imagine a big street party, where you are easily transported into a dream world of masquerades and music.
It starts in the Avenida do Mar and goes along the main avenue of Funchal, offering lively music, colorful costumes and dancing rhythms. Some of them even evoke the spirit of Carnival in Brazil, through Samba songs. The Parade is organized in different groups, based on a common theme. Each group has their own choreography and costume and rehearsals start months before the event.
The Parade usually lasts about 1,5 h, so arrive early and grab a front row spot in the boardwalk. For extra comfort, you can also book a seat in advance, at the nearest Tourism office.
During the week of Carnival, many of these groups will also perform live in some of the best known hotels in Madeira, so you might get another chance to see them.
4. Be creative in the ‘Trapalhão’ PARADE (Tuesday, 9th February)
This traditional parade was previously held in a spontaneous way along Rua da Carreira. Throughout the years it became bigger and so, nowadays, it takes place on the Avenida do Mar.
Anybody can join the parade, either individually or in a group, just as long as you show up, dress up and use your humor and Carnivalesque soul. Many people use this parade as an opportunity for social and political satire.
5. Have a taste of Madeira’s Carnival delicacies
Tradition says that Madeira’s Carnival is celebrated with a typical desert : ‘Sonhos’ which come from the Portuguese word for dreams. These delicacies are made from flour and eggs, dressed in a regional ‘Sugar Cane´ honey. Although it’s an acquired taste to most Madeirans, I’m sure that once you’ve tasted one of these treats, you’ll be dreaming about your next holiday in Madeira. ‘Sonhos’ can be found in most bakeries and coffees in the Island.
6. Dress up for a Carnival PARTY
Most nightlife bars, discos and hotels offer Carnival theme nights. It usually starts on the Friday (5th February) with the “Transvestites Night”, where men dress up as women and vice-versa. This is one of the locals favorite nights, so be ready for some fun followed by lots of drinks, music and dancing. Another popular theme night in Carnival is the hippie’s night, where people dress up as if they were living in the 60’s. Enjoy the flower power!
Get your costume ready and bring your friends and family together, to enjoy and create good memories of Carnival in Madeira.