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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.

A Scene From a Past Flower Festival

A Scene From a Past Flower Festival

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 colourful 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 festivities many times over the years, and the displays of flowers and parades through the streets never fail to impress. Likewise, I have enjoyed the wine festivities. Stomping around barefoot up to one's knees in grapes while enjoying a sample brew is an experience to remember. Of course, the waft of meat on the barbeque and the smell of garlic bread add even more to this unique experience. The fact that my feet stay rather red for a few days is another amusing factor.

Grape Vines

Grape Vines

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 colour 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 colourful displays on the pathways are simply beautiful and very touching. 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 festival and symbolises world peace. The wall itself is huge and very impressive.

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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 symbolise that. Each village enjoys its own parade and celebration, and the children play a huge part in this very colourful family event.

The Combining of the Festivals

In 2020, for the first time, both festivals were celebrated together, and it was a huge 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.

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


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.

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