Flower Festival (Festa da Flor) in Funchal, Portugal is, in my opinion, one of the best times to visit Madeira. Sunbathing weather is not guaranteed, but I sincerely recommend visiting the island during this beautiful period. Today a short (photo) summary of our Flower Festival 2019 trip and a couple of tips for future editions.
- Madeira Flower Festival – Programme & events
- Flower Festival – Festa da Flor 2019 – our photos and videos
- Flower Exhibition – Pavilhão da Flor
- Avenida Arriaga area
- Performances and concerts
- Children Parade and Wall of Hope Ceremony – Muro da Esperança
- Madeira Flower Parade – Cortejo da Flor
- Fashion show – Madeira Flower Collection
- Madeira Classic Car Revival
- Flowers on Madeira in May
- Final thoughts – What to keep in mind
- Is it worth it?
Madeira Flower Festival – Programme & events
The Madeira Flower Festival “Festa da Flor” takes place every spring – at the turn of April and May. The exact dates of the main events are announced on the official Visit Madeira website a few months earlier, so it is worth booking hotels and tickets well in advance. The entire festival lasts over 3 weeks.
Flower Festival – Festa da Flor 2019 – our photos and videos
Most tourists plan their trips around the Flower Parade, which is one of the most important events opening the celebrations.
If you visit the island before the start, you will be able to witness locals diligently preparing the city for the festival, especially decorating huts and building up installations on Avenida Arriaga.
Flower Exhibition – Pavilhão da Flor
A popular element is also an indoor flower-theme exhibition called Pavilhão da Flor. My favourite part were the 3D historical flower arrangements- although they look like ordinary paintings, they were three-dimensional installations.
Here are some of the photos of the Pavilhão da Flor 2019:
Avenida Arriaga area
As always, this was one of the main and busiest areas. During the day you could enjoy interesting folklore performances, concerts, installations, activities for kids or buy flower bulbs and local food and drinks. There were also two of the main flower carpets.
On Largo da Restauração square (next to the Se Cathedral) a beautiful installation was constructed:
Performances and concerts
Actually, we thought it was just a beautiful floral installation, but one evening, while meeting our friends for a Poncha, we discovered that it was actually a stage for an unusual evening show…
The historical performance called Bomboteiros Bay (Baía dos Bomboteiros) took place on this very stage. In English and Portuguese, the history of Bomboteiros and Rapazes da Mergulhança was presented to tourists.
Who were Bomboteiros & Rapazes da Mergulhança?
Bomboteiros – In the 1940s and ’50s of the last century, this term was used to describe sellers who used small boats (bumboats) to approach cruise ships stopping in the Gulf of Funchal, trying to sell to its rich passengers local goods such as fruits, Madeira wine, embroidered and wicker products.
Rapazes da Mergulhança (Diving Boys) and Mergulhança (Diving), describe a rather strange phenomenon in the history of Madeira. Rich passengers of large cruise ships threw coins into the water only to be able to see the young Madeira boys dive in the sea trying to catch these…
The historical performance took place on Fridays and Saturdays at 9 and 10 pm.
On the nearby stage, at multiple times during the day, we were able to see folklore group performances and in the evenings – live concerts.
Madeira folklore group performances
We were also able to take pictures with beautifully dressed Flower Ladies handing out flowers and festival programme booklets to visitors.
Children Parade and Wall of Hope Ceremony – Muro da Esperança
It surprised us that the Parade wasn’t as crowded as we expected. We easily found a good spot in the first row.
The Wall Of Hope ceremony on the Praca do Municipio square was a completely different thing – it didn’t seem well organized and was much more crowded. Some tourists forgot about their manners, trying to push each other… trying to see as much as they can while it was difficult to see anything.
To all tourists with poor health: I would rather advise you to skip this part of the event.
And for all those willing to see both the start of the parade as well as the ceremony, out tip: Take the shortcut through Arcadas São Francisco shopping centre.
Madeira Flower Parade – Cortejo da Flor
The long-awaited parade… did not disappoint me. It was much more beautiful than expected!
On Sunday, May 5th, in the centre of Funchal from the early hours, you could see beautifully dressed performers- both children as adults. Beautifully decorated parade platforms were parked at the bus stop next to the cable car station – the official start of the parade. You could feel there the incredibly positive atmosphere of the day.
On that day many main roads in the centre were closed and parking spots seemed rather full. We were very lucky – we were staying in the Old Town of Funchal. We were three minutes away from the parade, and it is something I definitely recommend. If you are visiting Madeira during the Flower Festival 2021 or 2022, consider staying close to the parade:
There are several ways to watch the parade. Regular spots behind the barriers are free of charge, but to find a good spot with a view other than someone’s back, you have to arrive long before the start – at least at the beginning of the route where we were. Crowds occupied the first rows from 13:30, if not earlier. You can also try to see the parade from above, for example from the terrace of the Cristiano Ronaldo – CR7 Hotel or Santa Catarina Park.
The most convenient option, however, are paid tribune seats. In this case, the good view and comfort are guaranteed, and we do not need to arrive early.
This year I was able to watch and photograph the parade from the first tribune at the start of the parade. We also had the honour to sit not far away from Mr Miguel Albuquerque, the current President of the Government of Madeira (Presidente do Governo Regional da Madeira).
We also enjoyed a minute of fame on the local TV 🙂
The weather was great and so was the atmosphere of the parade… Those quantities of flowers, beautiful, hand-made decorations… Stunning costumes and interesting choreographies…
But especially – smiles on the faces, and the joy with which the locals gave all they could to present this amazing show to visitors and make them feel welcome.
Something unique – the people of Madeira are amazing!
Can a 2.5-hour parade get boring at some point?
If I stood for long hours in the hot sun, squeezed in between other spectators and the barriers, fatigue would probably kill some of my enthusiasm. However, thanks to the comfortable seats, the entire 2.5 hours passed pleasantly and… way too fast! That’s why I sincerely recommend purchasing tribune seat tickets.
I did not feel bored even for a moment. Each group had a different theme, different choreography, and costumes. It was truly stunning, and I enjoyed every second of it.
The next editions of the parade will probably be shorter and host fewer teams. Because of the 600th anniversary of the discovery of Madeira, this year’s parade was longer and richer than usual.
Here is our video summary of the entire parade:
All videos can also be seen on our Youtube account.
Many thanks to Visit Madeira for the great tribune seats which allowed me to share these posts and pictures with you!
After the parade ended, the vehicles parked at Avenida Francisco Sá Carneiro next to the Cristiano Ronaldo Museum. You could take pictures with them, and sometimes even on them.
Fashion show – Madeira Flower Collection
took place. Madeira Flower Collection is a fashion show of floral designs created to promote local fashion designers
The last weekend of the festival was dedicated to classic cars:
Madeira Classic Car Revival
This year this event took place on Friday (24/05) and Saturday (25/05). You could also watch a classical cars race through the streets of Funchal called Rampa dos Barreiros.
Of course, during the entire festival, on regular weekdays you were able to watch a couple of other, smaller performances and concerts per day.
Flowers on Madeira in May
When it comes to the flora of Madeira in May, the island itself looked beautiful….
Final thoughts – What to keep in mind
if you are planning to visit Madeira Island during the Flower Festival?
1. Do not be late!
The yearly Flower Festival period can be considered a high season, although I have not seen such crowds as, for example, during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Something that surprised me the most was the fact that there was not a single cruise ship in the port during the parade.
Still, it’s worth looking around for airline tickets and the hotel early enough, as soon as the dates of the 2021 Flower Festival events are announced.
This year, the Flower Festival attracted around 28,000 tourists to Madeira.
2. Stay in Funchal
Most of the events take place in the centre of Funchal. If you want to feel the amazing spirit, you will need to stay close to or in Funchal.
3. Weather and temperatures
4. Keep checking the program
The closer to the Flower Festival, the more detailed information about its program is published on the official website of Visit Madeira. Keep checking it regularly as sometimes it changes.
Is it worth it?
Madeira Island is always a good idea, but I think that the spring Flower Festival is a wonderful time to visit Madeira. If you like such cultural events, I would recommend wholeheartedly planning your trip during one of the major events: Flower Parade, Fashion Show or the Old Cars Show, according to your interests.
In my opinion – at least once in my life – it is definitely worth it, and it definitely deserves to be called one of the best festivals in the world.
I hope that my post was useful and inspired you to plan holidays in Madeira during the Flower Festival 2021or 2022.
Would you like to organize a wedding on Madeira Island or Porto Santo?
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