19 Mar 2019 7488
Sofia Vasconcelos From Madeira to Mars
#Christmas #experiences #reveillon

Holidays in Madeira in December

Deciding what is the best time of the year to visit Madeira is no easy task. In fact, this Portuguese island is a great holiday destination all year round !!

As Jill and Hugh Gage (regular guests of PortoBay hotels in Madeira) say, "it depends on what people are coming for, but October is usually very good. You have sunshine but, if you want to walk around or go on a tour, it is not too hot, so it’s perfect.  In April or May is also the same.”

Since I live here all year, I consider December one of my favourite months !! The motivations are many: traditions, flavours, climate, sea and nature !!

Click on the video and start dreaming about the next holiday in Madeira. ..


In Madeira, the Christmas season is intense starting at the beginning of December, with the home decorations, the nativity scenes and the lighting of the streets in Funchal. It is a time of preference for many emmigrants and university students, who choose December to return to their homeland and get together with family and friends.

Celebrations and gatherings of family and friends happen both at home and outdoors contributing to a festive and unique ambiance at this time. Traditional Christmas songs are played in the Christmas Market, nativity scenes are displayed in the downtown area, and children entertain themselves at the amusement park by the marina. The cultural program is intense, with various shows and musical concerts ranging from classical music to folklore or local bands. Flowers abound, such as venus slippers, poisentias, and jugs, mostly used in houses and churches decorations.

Photo: Francisco Correia

Flavours of the season

In the Madeiran homes, families bake cookies and tarts of all kinds as well as the traditional molas-ses cake. People drink hot cocoa, "poncha” and homemade fruit liquors such as mandarin, passion fruit or other rich flavours. The markets are filled with fruits like custard apples, avocados, tange-rines, oranges or English tomatoes (tamarillo). There is also a typical delicacy usually savoured in the cafes and markets - the delicious sandwiches of wine and garlic pork (carne vinha d’alhos). The Christmas dinners are very rich and offer the best of the Portuguese gastronomy.

Climate, nature and sea

With the arrival of the first showers, the valleys, mountains and forests return to their green and lush splendour. Thanks to Madeiran mild climate it is possible (even in the middle of December) to hike the levadas, in the Laurissilva Forest. You can also practice extreme sports such as canyoning or biking. To relax by the sea, nothing better than a boat trip to contemplate the magnificent winter sunset - magnificent with its red tones !!

Parties and events

Christmas in Madeira is also known as "Festa” which literally translates as 'the party' !! Joy and fun are integral part of all Christmas activities. An example includes the Missas do Parto (Masses of the expected Child) as these religious traditions are always accompanied by festive gatherings, at dawn.  The Market Night, held on the 23rd of December, starts with Christmas Carols in the Farmers Market, and lots of excitement in the surrounding streets from dusk till dawn - not to be missed !!

Photo: Hugo Reis

One of the best New Year’s fireworks in the world !!

We finish the month of December in the best possible way. The spectacular firework display in Funchal Bay enchants thousands of residents and visitors - sending positive energy for the new year.

Photo: Hugo Reis
The PortoBay hotels in Funchal, Vila Porto Mare, Porto Santa Maria and The Cliff Bay present a calendar of events specially dedicated to the month of December.
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