Madeira Island Carnival festivities – 3rd to 10th of February
The Carnival of Madeira is an annual festival held forty days before Easter, that ends on Shrove Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday.
One of the first major festivals of the year in Madeira, apart from the Dia dos Reis, the Madeira carnival is known as one of the best in Europe.
Traditionally there are two main Carnival parades in Madeira, which are very different from each other.
The allegoric parade, which takes place always on the Saturday of the Carnival weekend, is the more sophisticated one and needs a great deal of commitment and organisation from all the groups and the people involved. Numerous Samba groups with thousands of participants in magnificent and colourful costumes dance to electrifying Samba music through the streets of Funchal, spreading an ambiance evoking the Rio Carnival.
The second parade, called ‘trapalhão’, is older and used to occur all over the island, now it floods the streets of the city centre with thrilling joy on Terça-feira Gorda, ending the Carnival period. In this parade everybody can take part and the – sometimes quite daring – costumes and depicted caricatures are left to the participants’ own imagination.
Both parades have a defined itinerary in the city centre and end at the Municipal Square where more entertainment with live music and costume competitions is provided.
At least one month before the Carnival peak time, the best-known and established Carnival groups visit the hotels and entertain the guests with dance and music performances.
Traditionally the people of Madeira eat Malasadas on Terça-feira Gorda (Shrove Tuesday), the reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent, Malasadas are sold alongside the main carnival parade on Saturday.
Throughout this period, the streets of Funchal are decorated with patterns of lights and inundated with background music alluding to the Carnival period. Let this contagion infect you, too!
Visit Madeira Island and stay in Calheta on Madeira´s sunniest, warmest south west coast !
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