The Island of Eternal Spring enchants year round, but you’ll find some wonderfully unique experiences during the festive season. From markets to seasonal cuisine, here are five reasons why you should spend your winter in Madeira.
Warming, hearty treats are on the island’s menus in the cooler months. Keep an eye out for ‘Carne Vinha d’Alhos,’ a festive speciality made with garlic, wine and pork. A spicy honey cake, ‘Bolo de mel,’ is also a seasonal favourite.
Don’t miss the Cozido à Portuguesa. This stew is one of Portugal’s most famous, featuring meats, sausages and vegetables slow cooked to perfection. Why not wash your meal down with homemade liqueur, such as the wine-based ‘tin tan tum’?
Madeira’s markets have an extra-special festive charm in the winter months. Head to Avenida Arriaga, which is decked out in lights and decorations for a truly magical atmosphere in December. You’ll also find many traditional ‘lapinha’ dotted around the island in the winter months. These special nativity scenes show baby Jesus on top of a flight of steps, decorated with fruit.
Thousands of shining lights will make the streets of Funchal sparkle. Even the mountains are home to creative light displays that twinkle in the distance.
The waters around Madeira are teeming with life all year, but between November and February some especially rare cetacean species can be spotted. Short-beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and short-finned pilot whales can be found breaking through the waves. The mild ocean temperatures also make diving a popular sport at any time of year.
Festivities at Reid's are taken seriously. From mid-December, the hotel magically transforms into an authentic Christmas wonderland. Every day there's reason to cheer with Christmas carols, story time under the tree for little ones and cookie-making classes to give guests some festive spirit.
Funchal’s mountainous setting provides the perfect stage for one of the most beautiful fireworks displays in the world. The pyrotechnic show lasts for about eight minutes, with fireworks being set off from several points in the city. This magnificent spectacle was internationally recognised in 2006 by the Guinness Book of Records as "the largest fireworks show in the world".
Make your base at the timeless Reid’s Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Madeira, perched between subtropical gardens and the endless blue of the Atlantic Ocean.