Funchal, Madeira may be one of the smallest capital cities in Europe (as of 2011 only 111,541 people lived in it), but it doesn’t do its Christmas celebrations by half! There doesn’t seem to be a street, a tree or a building that isn’t adorned in a rainbow of light.
Down by the sea front is where it all seems to be happening in Funchal this Christmas. A fairground has taken over half of the promenade and, all day every day, families, locals and tourists alike flock to it for some carefree fun. Further along, past all the street food stalls selling everything from the traditional Portuguese ‘Pastal De Nata’ (custard tart), to roasted chestnuts, is a Christmas tree made entirely in light. It’s so tall it can be seen from the top of the mountains towering over the city! Just behind the tree, by the port where the cruise ships dock, is a Christmas greeting, that lights up, in five different languages.
They’re a really friendly lot in Madeira!
Up in the old town are some of Funchal’s more traditional Christmas activities. The Cathedral stands at the end of the street full of nativity scenes, choirs singing, and the Christmas market. The Christmas market may not be the biggest but it certainly felt magical to wander around, browsing the stalls, sipping on cocktails from the market, and being serenaded by a local choir singing German Christmas songs.
Slightly less traditional is the giant Santa holding a postcard of Madeira, and the little village, which houses several model candy canes, ginger bread houses and a huge train, across the road.
There’s something about being in a place like Funchal for Christmas that just feels right. As a child I always spent Christmas abroad so eating roasted chestnuts by the ocean, or eating dinner outside whilst listening to Christmas songs is, to me, what Christmas should be. I feel far more festive in Funchal than I do back in cold, miserable Britain!
Has anyone been to Funchal at Christmas? Anyone been anywhere else this Christmas? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Want to see more? You can follow me on social media!