From the 1st December onwards, the streets of Funchal start dressing up for the big day, as if they are preparing for a Gala. They are getting ready to shine and sparkle through the month of December until mid-January. This is why it is called the Party Month!
It is, however, on the 8th December that everything transforms itself. This is the official date that all the Christmas illuminations are turned on, stretching from one side of town to the other. The city of Funchal comes alive! The lights go on and blend in with the natural beauty.
All the streets, alleyways, bridges, streams, roundabouts and buildings are illuminated and designed down to the smallest detail to bring even more brightness and colour to the Island of Madeira. You hear music, you see plenty of flowers, especially the slipper orchids, and a plethora of colours. We are dazzled by the Christmas choirs, the folk dancing groups and the Philharmonic Bands. Listen and breathe Christmas.
The more prominent streets are the most traditional, such as Rua Dr. Fernão de Ornelas, Largo do Phelps and Rua do Carmo. Another eye-catching location is the Cathedral and the avenue that extends along the central thoroughfare of the Avenida Arriaga to the Baltazar Dias theatre. Here there is an abundance of entertainment, shows, exhibitions, religious traditions, regional handicraft and food and drink stalls serving liqueurs, Ginja (cherry brandy), Poncha, honey cake, biscuits and pork marinated and cooked with garlic and wine.
In the Ethnographic Village at the Largo da Restauração you will find a dining area for those wishing to enjoy the delicious and traditional chicken or wheat soup, accompanied by the local “bolo do caco” bread.
The Municipal Garden is also transformed at this time and gives way to the “Christmas of Children”. It is filled with large decorations such as a train where children can get in and imagine they really are on their way to the North Pole! There is also Santa’s sleigh and giant parcels, amongst a great array of entertainment.
Along the quayside there are more focal points that allude to travel and discovery. This is down to the fact that it is a point of departure and arrival on the island. In the People’s Square, large Christmas decorations predominate, such as the typical Christmas trees that attributes to the dispersal of the Madeirans to Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Venezuela. Something that must not be forgotten is the roasted chestnut stands that are strategically placed all through the square.
Madeira Island is truly magical and unforgettable, in this unique and undisputedly our Party Month!