Christmas festivities will look very different across Europe this year, but not so in Madeira, with markets, performances and festivities set to continue, all in a Covid-safe way.
The archipelago has just been named Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2020 at the World Travel Awards for the seventh time and was also awarded Europe’s Safest Christmas Destination 2020 by European Best Destinations last month. It sits on the same latitude as Casablanca and has some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Europe. It offers easily accessed (three-and-a-half-hour flight) and fuss-free winter sun, sure to delight. The destination is attracting increasing numbers of younger travellers and the Madeiran approach to Christmas celebrations is something to behold.
In Madeira, the whole month of December – known as the ‘Festa’ – is dedicated to yuletide fun. The expansive valley of the capital, Funchal, is lit up with lights which are like no other and the New Year’s Eve fireworks – listed in the Guinness Book of Records - rival those in Sydney, but without the crowds.
It’s not just the city centre that lights up, during the festive period the roads outside Funchal also put on their Christmas hats, illuminating and adjoining all the lamp posts, creating a captivating lit road map when observed from below. The surrounding dwellings also go to vast efforts to decorate streets and the island’s traditional "lapinhas" (cribs) are dressed with beautiful flowers.
Christmas markets burst with local delicacies, such as honey biscuits, liqueurs and the island’s signature drink, Poncha. These regional products will be sold and available for people to purchase within the market. Their world-famous Carne Vinho e Alhos served throughout December is not to be missed – a tender pork dish, marinated with wine and garlic and present in most family homes. Also renowned for its mouth-watering display of regional fruit and vegetable shops, it will be hard to resist tucking into some delicious local produce, mostly harvested in the local area.
Visitors can also feast their eyes on ecclesiastical art at the Museu de Arte Sacra or take a moment to explore the mosaic-cobbled squares of Funchal. For those that like heights, take a trip on the cable car up to the lofty hillside chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte; transport back down is a traditional Carro do Monte, a road-going wicker sleigh steered by the drivers, with great skill and expertise, using thick rubber soles on their boots as brakes during an exhilarating trip.
Madeira is a sun-blessed paradise, a captivating haven home of some of the most vibrant and colourful, flora on Earth; the perfect choice for a relaxing, winter-warming holiday, packed with festive celebrations. The ideal destination for travellers looking for something magical and totally unexpected at the end of a tough year.
Response to Covid-19:
Madeira Islands have been widely praised for handling the Covid-19 crisis exceptionally well and fully re-opened to international travellers on 1st July. To ensure security for both tourists and residents, all people travelling to the islands have to either present a negative test done within 72 hours prior to departure or be tested upon arrival, without any costs - Covid-19 tests on arrival will be paid for by the Madeira Government.
Madeira Islands are focused on positioning as a Covid-safe destination and are working with SGS, the world leader in certification, to ensure good practice across the destination to minimise risk in the wake of Covid-19. The certification process is available to all companies in the tourism sector.
Furthermore, Madeira was a pioneer in the whole of Portugal in developing a good practices document to deal with Covid-19. These measures will provide comfort to those who travel and it is ultimately for the wellbeing of all.At present Madeira has very few registered cases of Covid-19.