With Carnival right around the corner, this blog post will inform you of all the activities and festivities around Carnival on Madeira!
Madeira Carnival festivities offer a variety of activities that you can choose from, with the option to enjoy them as a simple spectator, or as an active participant.
On Madeira, the Carnival season is experienced in a constant festive atmosphere, both with official initiatives and those of a more spontaneous character, deep-rooted in Madeiran tradition. With joy and cheerfulness dominating the streets, the period between February 19 and March 1 is surely one of the most cheerful and festive periods of the year.
Carnival officially begins on the Friday before Lent (21/02/2020) and only ends on Shrove Tuesday. During this period, intense and contagious liveliness will take the whole island by storm.
It is one of Madeira’s liveliest festivals. Funchal wakes up on Friday morning to the sound of brass bands and carnival parades. They bring their good humour to the whole downtown area, which is then continued at night with concerts and shows in the Praça do Município for five consecutive days.
On Saturday night (22/02/2020), it’s time for the great procession of floats to come out into the street. After following their traditional route through the city, they concentrate on the Praça do Município. Here, there will be loads of singing and dancing in a magical atmosphere of music and merrymaking.
On the day of the Carnival itself (Shrove Tuesday), Funchal explodes in a great outpouring of happiness and cheerfulness. In the afternoon, irreverent cheerleaders from all over the world parade in front of the crowd who are in turn infected by this atmosphere of playful caricature. This marks the start of the popular parade. Throughout this period, the streets of Funchal are decorated with patterns of lights and inundated with background music alluding to the carnival period.
Carnival’s theme of this year is “Zodiac signs”. We recommend that you arrive early during the festivities, especially on Saturday. This is to get the best places to watch the parade, which is a real elaborated show.
Dates of the Carnival festivities on Madeira:
Start date: February 19 2020
End date: March 1 2020
February 19 – 26: Diverse animation in Funchal’s downtown.
22/02/2020 – Great allegorical Parade
On Saturday night, the colourful and vibrant float parade takes thousands of visitors and residents to the centre of Funchal. This is the main attraction of Carnival on Madeira. Over 1000 revellers participate, dressed in eye-catching costumes in addition to a dozen exquisitely decorated floats.
Music will be the opening to the parade. The colourful joy and rhythm of the costumed troupes are contagious. They parade enthusiastically to the sound of selected songs that were choreographed and rehearsed throughout the year. Therefore, the public will be overflowed with joy.
25/02/2020 – Trapalhão Parade
The Trapalhão parade (Slapstick parade), held on Shrove Tuesday, represents the spontaneous parade that originally occurred on Rua da Carreira. Therefore, everyone is free to participate. Whether you are a tourist or a local inhabitant. The participants’ creativity knows no boundaries. It spans from social and political satire to traditional themes or simple character disguise. Whether you watch or participate in this parade, you will undoubtedly be able to share the moments of good humour and interact with the public.
Compadres feast –February 15 and 16
The carnival celebrations begin with “Festa dos Compadres”, which takes place in Santana. The nature of this traditional festivity is part of passage from Winter to Spring ritual and the renewal of the local community.
The action unfolds in a clear antagonism between male and female residents, well presented through the satirical male and female dolls, made by the participants. The feast focuses on the judgement of the “compadre” and “comadre”. During the feast, they hold social criticism towards the events and activities of individuals and community institutions that took place over the year.
In the end, both the “compadre” and “comadre” are burned as punishment. Therefore, the community will feel renewed and gets rid of social tensions.
Street entertainment – February 19 to March 1
On Tuesday, a week before Shrove Tuesday, the magic of Carnival captivates Funchal completely. It becomes the centre of numerous street entertainment events. These events include carnival music, performances and countless other events that contribute to the exciting spirit.
Nightlife hangout spots also offer various themed nights during the period before Carnival. Parties can have themes such as “Hippies Night” and “Travesties Night”. They invite their visitors to enjoy themselves, disguised with a themed mask or suit.
Downtown Funchal is once again the stage of another highly original and creative entertainment initiative. With a contagious energy, hundreds of revellers from “Assosiação de Desenvolvimento Comunitário do Funchal” parade along Avenida Arriaga towards the Municipal Garden, where a show takes place.
During this period, children and their parents engage in making masks to take to school. This event takes place on Friday morning, prior to Carnival. About a thousand young revellers from various schools and kindergartens of Funchal parade through the city centre (Avenida Arriaga), in an atmosphere of Carnival liveliness.