Madeira during the Christmas season 2018
Are you thinking about visiting Madeira during the 2019 Christmas season? If you are wondering what you can expect and what the weather will be like, you are in the right place. On my blog your will find a couple of detailed posts about visiting Madeira in December.
This post is a photo report of our last year’s Christmas and NYE.
- Christmas atmosphere in Funchal
- Photo gallery: Christmas season in Madeira Island (2018)
- Nativity scenes / Christmas Cribs
- Market Night – “Noite do Mercado” – in Funchal
- Opening hours during Christmas 2018 and New Year 2019 in Madeira
- Christmas dishes and drinks
- New Year’s Eve 2018/2019 in Madeira
- Weather in Madeira around Christmas / NYE
- What did we see & do? What will you be able to read about on my blog soon?
It was my second Christmas and NYE spent in Madeira. This year was slightly different from the previous visit, described [HERE]. It was the first visit since I started this blog, so also the first trip when I always carried my camera with me.
We also travelled much more, we visited many new interesting places, including several new wedding venues in Madeira, which I will present soon. We were able to see hundreds of Christmas cribs and Christmas trees in various styles. For the first time, I could also experience the Funchal Market Night celebrations.
Christmas atmosphere in Funchal
The atmosphere in the city was completely different. Porto Santo and Madeira Island are celebrating its 600th anniversary, so I had the impression that the city looked even prettier than usual. All over the city, we were reminded of the big anniversaries.
Photo gallery: Christmas season in Madeira Island (2018)
1. Funchal Marina / Avenida do Mar area
2. Avenida Arriaga / Christmas market
3. Christmas village in Jardim Municipal do Funchal
4. Madeira’s flag
5. Volta à Cidade do Funchal / São Silvestre City Run Funchal
6. Christmas Lights TukTuk Tour
Long evening walks through the beautifully decorated streets of Funchal have become a tradition for many families. Most of the decorations are located around the port area, but there are many more adorable streets and squares spread all over the city, so especially among tourists with limited time, Christmas Lights TukTuk Tours are becoming more and more popular. Drivers are able to show tourist all the prettiest areas of Funchal in a short time.
We chose Atlantis Tours with its adorable giant Christmas hat on top. The trip was so much fun!
Please forgive my lack of editing skills, but here is a short video with some of the Funchal Christmas decorations:
Nativity scenes / Christmas Cribs
“I am so surprised- In Madeira, there are more nativity scenes than Christmas trees,” said Agnieszka, whom I met thanks to Instagram. It was her first visit to Madeira.
It is hard not to agree. It did not strike me last time, but there are, indeed, hundreds of Christmas Cribs in Madeira. Cribs of all sizes and all types; indoor, outdoor, modern, traditional… You will see them in many town squares, churches, museums, hotel lobbies and private houses. It would be impossible to show them all, so here are some, which I found most interesting or beautiful:
1. Mega Presepio in Curral das Freiras
Indoor Christmas Crib (Mega Presepio) in Curral das Freiras is considered to be the biggest on the island. Once you enter the building and follow the paths, you are able to see different scenes presenting the life in Madeira’s villages. You will see the famous Santana houses and even a waterfall. In the very centre, you will find the traditional Nativity Scene presenting the Holy Family in Belem- Bethlehem.
Entry to Mega Presepio is free of charge, but you are requested to leave a voluntary tip.
It is open daily, between 15 December to 15 January.
2. Christmas Crib close to the Port of Funchal
3. Christmas Crib in Camara de Lobos
4. Christmas Crib in Porto Moniz
5. Christmas Crib inside a sugar cane factory – Sociedade dos Engenhos da Calheta
And last but not least, a beautiful crib at our wonderful hosts’ home:
6. As well as two very creative Christmas trees…
Cod (Bacalhau) Christmas tree as well as… a Christmas tree decorated with ties… Those who visited the Universo de Memórias Museum will understand why…
Have you also spotted some interesting Christmas trees in Madeira Island? Send them to us if you would like to have them published in this post.
Market Night – “Noite do Mercado” – in Funchal
First in my life Market Night in Funchal – a big success. After staying for a couple of nights in Calheta and Eira do Serrado, on the 23rd of December we came back to the Old Town of Funchal. We stayed a minute away from the Mercado dos Lavoradores – the very heart of the entire event.
Those who have never heard of the Market Night – it is an important event during the Christmas season in Madeira. It is sort of an open-air event; a fair with street concerts and different attractions. It takes place the night before Christmas Eve and it causes the entire centre of Funchal to transform into a big party.
On the morning of December 23, a big fruit stand was built in front of the Farmer’s Market. It was the first sign of the upcoming celebrations.
Closed roads during the Market Night in Funchal
In the afternoon, all roads in the city centre were closed. Immediately after, streets were filled with people trying to set up street food and drink stands. Local news company began preparing the stages and installing cameras. I am astonished by the tempo in which the locals were able to set up their stands and prepare the centre for the crowd of party people.
After sunset, the city started to become very crowded, very fast. People were coming in big groups from all parts of Funchal. It was impossible to park a car anywhere close.
The best tip for those attending the Market Night – leave your car in the garage or come to Funchal very, very early. Public bus routes are modified, there are many detours, so the easiest way to get to the centre will always be on foot.
The weather was good and the party was a success. The entire city centre was full of people, bars in the Old Town played music the entire night long and people were dancing on the streets. We went home around 3 in the morning, while the party was still busy and did not show any signs of the upcoming end.
After just a couple of hours of sleep, when we walking to a cafe, the city seemed like we were in a different dimension. The roads were open, there were no stands, no concerts, no trash and plastic cups on the floor…
According to the local TV news, we all owe this miracle to 123 employees who, in 22 vehicles, cleared the streets from 24 tons of rubbish…
Last time there was no funfair between the port and the Old Town in Funchal. The funfair, along with the food trucks, roasted chestnut stands and beautifully decorated palm trees, really enlivened the Marina area.
As a big fan of roller coasters, I tried one of the best attractions. The view from the top was amazing, but I sincerely think that that attraction wasn’t even half as exciting or scary as simply riding a public Horarios do Funchal bus from the Nun’s Valley to Funchal…
Opening hours during Christmas 2018 and New Year 2019 in Madeira
We stayed in the Old Town, so we could see firsthand how many and which restaurants were open. On New Year’s Eve and the First Day of Christmas, surprisingly many restaurants were open. The Second Day of Christmas almost did not feel like a holiday. Most of the restaurants and stores were open. Tour operators offered levada walks and other tours, just like on any other day. Also on New Year, restaurants in the Old Town opened around noon. Most of the galleries, Poncha bars and tourist shops were also open.
Only breakfasts turned out to be a bit of a problem. There were a couple of local cafe’s open during the holidays, but the choice was limited. They offered drinks, sweet pastries and old sandwiches. As we were told, due to the closed bakeries, they run out of bread very fast.
Christmas dishes and drinks
As usual, we ate tons of Lapas, great seafood dishes and delicious Portuguese pastries: Queijada & Pastel de Nata.
We also ate a traditional Portuguese Christmas cake called Bolo do Rei and a nut cake. On New Year’s Eve, our hosts served us traditional Portugues Canja (Portuguese chicken soup). I wasn’t however very tempted to try the traditional Madeira Carne Vinha-d’alhos (Wine and garlic meat) sandwiches, sold all over the island.
New Year’s Eve 2018/2019 in Madeira
I was looking forward to the fireworks show, I was counting down the days… The weather, unfortunately, ruined the magic of that night. The entire New Year’s Eve was very rainy, to the dismay of many tourists who came to the island especially for the fireworks show.
GO TO POST: WEATHER IN MADEIRA IN DECEMBER 2018
Here is our movie of the New Year’s Eve 2018/2019 fireworks show in Madeira:
Best spot for watching fireworks in Funchal?
A couple of years earlier we observed the fireworks from the (at that time still open) Forte Sao Jose at the entry to the Port of Funchal, close to the Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva and the Funchal Cruise Terminal.
In 2018 we decided that it would be great to observe the show from higher parts of Funchal. Indeed, we had a better view, but somehow I enjoyed the show less.
By being around the port area, we felt like we were in the centre of the show. Fireworks exploded all around us and the noise made it even more exciting. By being further away, I did not feel like I was part of the show. I would personally say: the closer to the Marina and Praca do Povo the better.
Weather in Madeira around Christmas / NYE
The weather, unfortunately, disappointed Madera this year. The worst weather was, sadly, on the most important days – Christmas Eve, the first day of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The remaining days were mainly sunny and pleasant, some very. We had enough time to sunbathe or go hiking.
Here is our Madeira weather report in a nutshell:
Do not forget to visit the detailed post – gallery:
Looking at the bright side – at least we have enough experience to publish a new article “What to do in Madeira in bad weather”…
What did we see & do? What will you be able to read about on my blog soon?
First of all, for those interested in the wedding part of my blog, I visited several spectacular wedding venues. You will soon be able to read about getting married at Savoy Saccharum and see a beautiful mountain wedding terrace at the Eira do Serrado Hotel. We were also given the opportunity to visit the new Savoy Palace Hotel and see how this spectacular venue will look like in just a few months when the hotel opens its doors.
We also checked what’s there to do in Calheta… discovered a great spot in Camara de Lobos… made an unforgettable and thrilling trip to the Valley of Nuns with a public bus… We took a TukTuk tour through the illuminated streets of Funchal and a convertible tour in the south-west the coast of Madeira… We walked Levada do Furado – PR 10 – from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. We sunbathed and observed a beautiful sunset at the surfers’ bar in Paul do Mar… We supported runners during the City Run in Funchal… We visited the north of Madeira, from Seixal to Porto Moniz, and we were almost rammed by a cow on the Paul da Serra plateau on the way back to Funchal…
During bad weather, we visited indoor attractions: the Blandy’s Wine Lodge, Madeira Film Experience, Madeira Story Center, and the jaw-dropping Universo de Memórias… We bought handmade souvenirs from local artists in the Old Town and truly enjoyed the Restock Art Gallery, which still remains a bit of a hidden gem of Funchal…
I was also honoured to meet an important person in Madeira and interview him for my blog… Who am I talking about? You will read about it all soon…