Carnaval season is here…and no one celebrates these pre-Lenten festivities quite like the city and people of Funchal on Madeira Island. For eight days, the city is decorated with in festive colors and lights. Residents and visitors alike flood the streets in brightly adorned costumes. And pure joy and celebration radiates form the streets. Carnaval 2017 in Madeira in runs from 22 February to 1 March
Although Carnaval festivities around the world usually begin on the Friday before the Christian holiday of Ash Wedenesday, Madeirans like to get their party started early. Celebrations begin on Wednesday, the 3rd with music, face painting and street entertainment. The event continues through the weekend with parades and parties. Carnaval closes with a gala ball on Tuesday night.
Parade of Floats
Perhaps the highlight of the week-long festivities is the colorful Parade of Floats on Saturday night. Over a thousand revelers participate dressed in eye-popping delightful costumes, in addition to a dozen exquisitely decorated floats. Joyful music is a key feature of the parade, with participants dancing down the street with choreographed and meticulously rehearsed movements.
The “Trapalhão” Parade (or Slapstick Parade) is held on Shrove Tuesday. This annual event represents a spontaneous parade that originally occurred on Rua da Carreira years ago. Participation is open to all, both national and foreign citizens, either independently or as a group. Good humor, poking fun at social and political issues, is the theme, and creativity knows no boundaries.
Other activities at the Madeira Carnaval include:
The Carnaval celebrations begin with “Festa dos Compadres” (Compadres Feast), which takes place in Santana. The nature of this traditional festivity is part of passage from winter to spring ritual and the renewal of the local community. The drama unfolds with an obvious struggle between local men and women, represented through the satirical dolls made by the participants. The feast focuses on the judgement of the “compadre” and the judgement of the “comadre”, during which social events from the last year are targets of humorous debate. In the end, both the “compadre” and the “comadre” are burned as punishment. This way, the community feels renewed and social tensions are relieved.
During this period, children and their parents engage in making masks to take to school. On Friday morning, prior to Carnaval, about a thousand young revellers from various schools and kindergartens of Funchal, all in disguise, parade through the city center (around Avenida Arriaga), in an atmosphere of Carnaval liveliness.
For more information, visit the Madeira Carnaval web page.