Madeira Nature Festival – 1-6
Discover the natural beauty of Madeira with the Madeira Nature Festival, a new addition to the island’s annual events calendar. The dynamic programme offers insights into Madeira’s natural and cultural heritage, as well as a wide range of adventurous activities for all ages, from paragliding over the mountains to sailing the deep blue Atlantic.
ULTRA MADEIRA – 5th and 6th Ponta do Pargo to Machico
Ultra Madeira is a competitive race across the island, organized by the "Associação de Atletismo da Madeira", this long challenging race starts at the Lighthouse Ponta do Pargo and ends in Machico.
Lord of Miracles Festival Machico – 8-9
On the 9th of October 1803, flash floods ripped through Madeira tragically sweeping over 600 people out to sea, although some sources even suggest a higher figure of a 1,000. As the floods unleashed their power on the south of the island, the small chapel in Machico was destroyed, and with it, the statue of ‘Our Lord of Miracles’ was swept out to sea. However, as if guided by a stronger force the figure was found three days later and quickly taken to the Sé Cathedral for safety and protection. It was then restored to its former home after the chapel was rebuilt in 1813. Each year this two-day festival attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over the island to pay homage to ‘Our Lord of Miracles’ through spiritual and religious candlelit processions and ceremonies held at the Igreja Matriz de Machico.
Festa da Maçã – Camacha – 11-13
This Apple Festival takes place in the rural parish of Camacha and consists of an exhibition and street parade, which is very pleasant for both participants and visitors, due to the variety of colours and aromas perfuming the air. Don’t forget to sample some of the freshly-squeezed apple cider.
Madeira Surfski Lifesaving and National Canoe Championship – Seixal and Machico – 18-20
The two-day Madeira Surfski Lifesaving and National Canoe Championship organised by Madeira Regional Canoeing Association, and the Portuguese Canoeing Federation puts its competitors to the test. On Saturday, participants run through the surf in Seixal carrying their kayaks to then paddle them through the surging waves negotiating a 500m predesigned course. Sunday’s open sea canoeing event in Machico is anything but easy, with competitors of all categories racing a 19.3km course. These two very different competitions in different locations with challenging surf, wave and open sea conditions provide the perfect setting for this very demanding event.
Madeira Organ Festival – 18-27
Part of the cultural festivals of the island, Madeira Organ Festival is a celebration of the enduring music of the Portuguese organ. Recitals in some of Madeira’s most beautiful churches are held every evening for 10 days in October, featuring beautifully restored organs (dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries) from Portugal, Italy and England. These dramatic recitals are accompanied by chamber groups, classical musicians and solo performers.
European Triathlon Cup – 19-20
Comprising of running, swimming and cycling events the European Triathlon Cup and the Portuguese Triathlon Cup are organised by the Regional Triathlon Association of Madeira and the Triathlon Federation of Portugal. It’s tough demanding and challenging requiring competitors to be at the peak of physical fitness as they battle it out against each other in the three events comprising of a 1500km swim, 40km cycle competition and a 10km road race, all of which take place around Funchal attracting a large number of local, national and international competitors.
Funchal Eco Trail – 26
From as far afield as Reykjavik and the brilliance of Florence the Eco Trail competition is a tough event with Madeira being considered one of the toughest and most demanding of courses in Europe, attracting competitors from all over the world, competing in the 80km, 40km, 25km and 15km races. Created in 2007 in Paris by a group of trail running friends the event morphed from an urban environment to encompass towns, mountains, forests and the oceans, all providing a fantastic competition backdrop, and as one competitor said ‘Have you flown? In Madeira, you can run above the clouds.’
Madeira Island International Swim Marathon (MIISM) – (dates to be announced)
Organised by Clube Naval do Funchal and the Madeira Swimming Association this challenging annual open water event comprises of fun activities including stand up paddle boarding and children’s races as well as the competition which is made up of several different events. These include the European Swimming League 10km Olympic distance, the popular 1500 metre event, both of which take place at Quinta Calaça Bay. A further two endurance races of 13km from Ribeira Brava to Funchal and a smaller 4km race from Camâra de Lobos to Funchal are hotly contested events.
Happy Halloween – 31
Being a popular holiday in the UK and North America, Halloween is also celebrated on the island of Madeira. At few shopping centres in Madeira, kids dress up in costumes, get their faces painted and then go trick or treating from store to store. Madeira Magic Park also organises a Halloween party for kids with a programme of exciting events. Bars and nightclubs throughout the city also host Halloween parties.
Chestnut Festival (Festa da Castanha) – Curral das Freiras – 1-2 November
On the first day of November in the rural parish of Curral das Freiras, homage is paid to the chestnut, which grows in abundance in this area. The local population makes the most of the chestnuts, using them as a main ingredient in many local recipes, including baked goods, soups and liqueur. This feast reflects the numerous cultural and traditional aspects of this rural area.
Madeira Piano Fest – 2-10
Organised by the Friends Association of the Conservatory of Music of Madeira (AACMM) and held in the beautiful Municipal Theatre Baltazar Dias, the Madeira Piano Fest comprises of several different concerts including both classical and contemporary music genres from solo artists, four hand performances and two piano recitals from some of Europe's leading and up and coming talent. This cycle of concerts is a must for all music lovers.
Madeira International Bridge Open – 4-10
Organised by the Bridge Association of Madeira, their annual Open Bridge Tournament promises a week of excellent bridge on the beautiful island of Madeira. The event consists of warm-up matches, pairs and team tournaments, cool down matches, discussions, island tours and of course side orders of even more bridge.
Rota das Estrelas (The Stars Route) – 6-9
Created in 2010 the Rota das Estrelas primary aim is to promote Portuguese haute cuisine, and as such, brings to Madeira renowned national and international chefs awarded with the magnificent Michelin stars and is exclusive to Michelin starred restaurants only. Included in this prestigious list of restaurants is the IL Gallo D’ouro restaurant, Madeira’s only Michelin star restaurant situated in the stunning Cliff Bay Hotel, where this year's event is to be held. This festival comprises of several events held throughout Portugal and now Spain between March and November and includes gourmet dinners, workshops, show cooking, wine tasting and local produce tours.
Sandokan Enduro – Calheta – 9-10
The Sandokan – Enduro is part of the Enduro Madeira Mountain Bike Series organised by the Madeira Cycling Association, attracting internationally renowned competitors such as Joe Burns and Fabien Barel. The competition is divided into several categories including Open non-licensed, Women’s, various male events as well as E-bike and Sandokan pairs race. With competition as fierce and as unpredictable as the ever-changing terrain and conditions, this race is a favourite among mountain bikers due to its demanding trails and fantastic if ever-changing scenery and weather conditions with the final stages attracting a large variety of spectators.
Saint Martin Festivities – (Festa de São Martinho) – 11
This annual religious event takes place at the Church of São Martinho where the people traditionally bake the last of the nut harvest, celebrate the goodness of São Martinho and taste the new wines made from the previous year's crop. Legend has it that St. Martin or Martin de Tour, a Roman soldier was on his way home during a bitter November where he chanced upon a beggar. On seeing the beggars plight, he ripped his cloak in two and gave the beggar half so that he could warm himself. On presenting the torn cloak to the vagrant, the bitter cold vanished, to be replaced by a warming sun, a reward for his kindness. These days, the eve of St. Martin is still celebrated as a herald to better weather, while the festivals religious significance is observed at the local church. As with all Madeira parties, there are plenty of stalls selling food and tempting visitors to taste the young homemade wines.
Funchal International Film Festival – Funchal – 14-20
Film buffs gather for the annual Funchal International Film Festival, which presents a wide selection of independent films in a variety of genres. Held in Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, this week-long festival comprises an international competition for feature and short films, as well as animation, documentaries and a local competition for films produced in Madeira. Every year there is also a retrospective of the best Portuguese filmmakers.
Music in The Chapels Concert – Ponta de Sol (Capela de São Sebastião) – 21
Music in the Chapels was initially created in 2013 with the aim of generating a better awareness of Madeira’s music talent and traditions as well as showcasing them in some of Ponta do Sol’s most emblematic heritage sites – the chapels of São António and São Sebastião. Lit with a hundred plus candles the setting for the concerts is intimate and atmospheric as the lights shimmer, reflecting the quality and beauty of the music. The shows take place fortnightly covering a wide variety of musical genres from traditional, classical and philharmonic all performed by a wealth of talented Madeiran artists.
The Essence of Wine – 28-30
The Essence of Wine Show brings together local and national winemakers in one of the biggest wine shows in Portugal. Held at the iconic Pestana Forum Casino, the event comprises of wine tastings, show cooking by renowned chefs as well as plenty of advice, good food and a chance to sample some of the best wines Madeiran and Portugal has to offer.
Madeira Dig Festival – 29th November to 7th December
Created in 2004 the Madeira Dig Festival is dedicated to promoting digital arts in the form of experimental music, interactive performances and digital media. Hosted at the Mudas Contemporary Art Museum in Calheta and at Estalagem da Ponta do Sol, the aim of the event is not only to bring new musical experiences to audiences but also to promote Madeira as an ideal tourist destination for young people and as such the festival is seen as an ‘avant guarde journey through the world of serious music.’
December - January
Christmas & New Year’s Festivities – 1 December 2019 to 6th January 2020
Christmas lights in Madeira – 1st December to January 6th
Christmas and New Year celebrations in Madeira offer a varied programme of cultural, folk and artistic events. The festive season starts in December when Funchal streets are magnificently decorated, and the colourful lights are switched on in the city’s main streets until early January.
Madeira Micro International Film Festival (MMiFF) – Ponta do Sol
With screenings held in the scenic village of Ponta do Sol, the Madeira Micro International Film Festival combines both nostalgia and modernity with nightly showings taking place in Madiera’s oldest cinema, the 80-year-old Art Deco Cinema Cine Sol and the very modern, John Dos Passos Cultural Centre. The event attracts amateur film directors from all over the world giving it a truly international feel providing a wealth of film genres to choose from, also with limited screenings per night, the organisers feel that it creates the perfect platform to allow filmmakers and viewers a chance to interact with each other.
MaXi Race Madeira – São Vicente – 7-8
From China, France, South Africa, Italy, Ecuador and now Portugal, the MaXi Race Madeira is finally here. With a choice of three distances 25km (Starter), 68km (Long) and the ultimate (Ultra) challenge at 103km, runners will be racing through some of the most spectacular scenery that the island has on offer, from craggy mountain peaks, rivers, tunnels and winding paths. It’s tough, demanding and as the organisers of the event would say, a chance to see some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. No wonder it attracts competitors from all over the globe.
Christmas Celebrations – ‘Childbirth Mass’ – 16 -24
Dedicated to the birth of Jesus, this nine-day mass represents the nine months of pregnancy the Virgin Mary underwent. The celebrations start at 06:00 on the 16th and end at sunrise on the 24th. As with all essential religious events the Childbirth Mass or Missa do Parto is celebrated extensively throughout the island. Evidence shows that the first masses were celebrated in the early 18th century, and today as then the series of ceremonies play an essential role in Madeira’s religious calendar, as it is a time of profound contemplation and anticipation over the birth of Jesus. That said, there is also a more lighthearted side to the event with hundreds of people gathering outside their churches enjoying local food and drink while listening to live music from traditional regional bands.
Market Night – 23
After the nine-day Missa do Parto, Market Night on the 23rd is a night of rejoicing as the Old Town of Funchal transforms itself into a massive all-night market. The event attracts thousands of locals and tourists alike into the bustling, busy streets as last-minute shoppers pick up fresh produce for the days ahead while the streets are lined with bars and eateries tempting everyone to enjoy in a little late night feasting and drinking while listening to Christmas Carols. Of course, no Christmas Market is complete without trying the ‘Carne vinho alhos,’ a speciality sandwich made of meat marinated in wine and garlic. It’s busy, hectic and a time where everyone gets to meet up with friends and family before Christmas in a little outdoor celebration.
Around the City of Funchal - São Silvestre Race – Funchal – 28
Created in 1958, the São Silvestre Race which is organised by the Athletics Association of the Autonomous Region of Madeira is not only ideal for burning off those excess Christmas calories it is one of the oldest races in Portugal and Europe. Racing through the streets of Funchal some 2000 entrants of all ages, nationalities, locals and visitors to the island battle it out across the finish line. The competition comprises of several events starting late afternoon with the Wheelchair 500m race, at 17:45, various children's contests at 18:00, the Health Walk/March at 19:00 and of course the principle 6km race which begins at 20:00 allowing participants to run through brightly illuminated, Christmas decorated streets. The races start and finish at Avenida Sá Carneiro, and registrations close on the 27th of December.
Madeira New Year’s Eve – Funchal – 31st December to January 1st
New Year’s Eve is celebrated everywhere on the island, in hotels, restaurants, bars, and even in the streets. The highlight of the New Year’s Eve festivities is the spectacular fireworks display – set off from approximately 50 posts – that illuminates the skies over Funchal. This is a truly unforgettable event, which brings back a multitude of visitors to the island every year.