Madeira is clearly an island that lives for parties and celebrations. Besides the grandiose New Year’s Celebrations, there’s two other seasons that gather a lot of people to visit this lovely subtropical island. One of them is the Carnaval, which happens from the 26th of February to the 10th of March.
It is a very lively party in Madeira, and if you do happen to be there in that time of the year you’ll see lots of children going to school dressed in costumes and many advertisements for the myriad of parades that are going on.
The big Allegorical Parade happens on the Saturday night before the religious day called “Ash Wednesday”. This one is very inspired by the Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro and is choreographed by the various Samba schools that exist in the island. It has a huge variety of allegorical cars and dancers, and be sure to look out for the ladies bearing the flag of their Samba School, they have the most detailed dresses in all of the parade, and each dress takes months of hard work for the local seamstresses to create. If you want to see this spectacle of glitter and feathers, just go to Avenida do Mar, right in the bay of Funchal. The Parade starts next to Pestana CR7 Hotel and finishes close to the Casa da Luz Museum. You can also participate in the parade if you wish.
The other parade is the traditional Trapalhão. This parade shows the goofier side of Carnaval with lots of satiric jokes aimed at politicians and famous people. This one occurs on the Tuesday after the Allegorical Parade. You can also enjoy a fair similar to the one done in Christmas in Avenida Arriaga where you can try many of the typical Madeira delicacies, like wine, poncha and some of the traditional sweets.
Speaking of delicacies, one of the local customs during this season is to eat Malassadas which are usually eaten by dipping it in sugarcane syrup. Or you can instead eat Sonhos, the difference between them and Malassadas being that the latter is softer and lighter. But be cautioned, both this candies are really sweet!
This is a season in which the island can get quite crowded so if you want to travel there I advise you to get plane tickets and place to stay with some time in advance.
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