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Madeira's Wine and Flower Festivals

Gabriel lives with her family on the Island of Madeira, where a warm climate provides the perfect environment to enjoy the outdoor life.

Photograph from a past flower festival

Photograph from a past flower festival

The Beautiful Festivals of Madeira

Madeira is a small Portuguese island floating in the Atlantic Ocean off Portugal near Morocco that boasts a warm climate year-round. It is a volcanic island rich in nutrients and minerals with a continuous flow of water through hundreds of levada channels, so it has much to offer the nature lover. Madeira is often referred to as the floating garden. The mountains host an abundance of flora and fauna, and wildflowers grow everywhere. The villages, too, are colorful and full of delightful, well-maintained flower displays.

Two of the island's biggest festivals—the flower festival (usually hosted around Easter) and the wine festival (typically hosted in September) are celebrations of beauty and taste for all to enjoy. I have enjoyed both festivals! Stomping barefoot, up to one's knees in grapes, at the wine festival, enjoying a sample brew, is an experience to remember. The waft of meat on the barbeque and the smell of garlic bread add even more to this unique experience. My feet were red for days!

The wine is always flowing in Madeira!

The wine is always flowing in Madeira!

The Wine Festival

The celebration of locally produced wine is supported by music, food, and dance. The grapes are picked and crushed, and the Atlantic sea rises in waves as is its custom when the wine is being made. I have watched the waves for many moons, and I continue to be amazed. The swirling sea is said to represent the brewing process (the wine in the barrel). The moon is big, bright, and full. It is a wonderful time of year.

Stand back and sip a sample of last year's wine while watching a tradition that has hardly changed as it has been passed from generation to generation. While larger grape-growing vineyards supply the markets, home brewing has never lost its place among the Madeiran families. Many families have winemaking presses, and I have certainly enjoyed my fair share of making and drinking wine.

Wine vats are still used to stomp and tread the wine; participants trample on the grapes barefoot to extract the juices. Families gather together and take turns treading the grapes, drinking last year's wine, and eating food prepared with love and generosity. It is a fun, traditional celebration and one to be shared with those you love.

The Flower Festival

The flower festival kicks off with a big parade through the streets of Funchal, the only city and capital of Madeira. Floats adorned with amazing displays of flowers are supported by numerous characters dancing in the street. Flowers and color are in abundance everywhere as girls carry baskets and hand out single flowers to pedestrians strolling the cobbled pavements.

The scent of fresh flowers is pungent in the air, and the colorful displays on the pathways are simply beautiful. A wall of hope is built by numerous young children, each given a flower to add to the wall. The wall of hope is a main feature of the flower festival and symbolizes world peace. The wall itself is a huge vibrant display and very impressive.

The festival is an eye-opener, and yet, it is a heartfelt festival unlike anything else I have ever experienced. There is a strong feeling of peace, and the flowers symbolize that. Each village enjoys its own parade and celebration, and the children play a huge part in this very colorful family event.

The Combining of the Festivals

In 2020, for the first time, both festivals were celebrated together, and it was a huge an exciting experience for the locals. The elders watched with wisdom, while the younger generation—their children—took part with knowledge and their children's children watched and learned and participated with the freedom and excitement that is characteristic of the island's young people. The celebrations symbolized the very heart of Madeira; a beautiful and bountiful island full of joy and expectation! It was the party of the year!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Gabriel Wilson

Comments

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on September 03, 2020:

The flower festival is the best, lovely colours, scents and postive feelings.

Gabriel Wilson (author) from Madeira, Portugal on September 03, 2020:

Well at least if you can't visit this time you can enjoy reading the plans and it might inspire a visit in the future. Thanks for reading :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 03, 2020:

I would love to travel to the island of Madeira someday during these festivals, and in particular, the flower festival if I could only choose one. It sounds delightful!

Danny from India on September 03, 2020:

This looks exciting, wish to visit. Thanks Gabriel for the post.