Madeira Flower Festival

By Rosemary McDaniel
This item appears on page 28 of the January 2017 issue.

“Colorful” is an understatement when describing the Portuguese island of Madeira’s annual Flower Festival.

For my third visit to this lovely island, I decided to travel April 4-17, 2016, in order to see this wildly popular festival being held April 7-17 in the capital of Funchal. During that time, at least four huge cruise ships were in port for a day or two at a time, and most of the hotels were full.

I was fortunate to be able to stay at my favorite property, the SeaView Lido Flat (São Martinho, Funchal, Portugal), which is quiet, comfortable and in a great location (Nov. ’15, pg. 32). It’s owned by a lovely person, Frederica Marques (

The flat must be rented for a minimum of five days at a time. I paid £56 (near $70) a night, and everything was included. The kitchen was fully equipped, and the owner provided enough food items (bread, fruit, milk, coffee, butter) to last a day or two. The apartment had a flat-screen satellite TV. There was a parking space in the basement garage, but I didn’t use it. 

Because Madeira lies near 33°N latitude, off the coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean, the island experiences a perpetual spring climate, resulting in year-round flowering plants that growers and garden clubs take advantage of to showcase their talents.

For the 61st festival, most of the activity took place along the pedestrian area of Avenida Arriaga and Avenida do Mar e das Comunidades, along the waterfront. 

Two large tents in the Praça do Povo (People’s Square) housed a flower exposition organized by the Regional Secretariat of Agriculture & Fisheries. One tent contained beautiful flower arrangements competing for prizes and the other held displays of native plants of Madeira.

Vendors of all types were set up in the central area, and the best items went quickly, as I learned when returning to a tile vendor who was almost sold out. Music and dancing were ever present, with participants dressed in traditional clothing.

The laborious task of creating flower carpets from millions of flowers and greenery was something else visitors could see. Garden club members worked for days arranging flowers in specified lengths and widths along the pedestrian area for three blocks. Other large flower displays appeared throughout the downtown area and were spectacular.

Workshops related to flower carpets, wickerwork, embroidery, inlay, wine and face painting were held throughout the festival for those interested in learning. 

On April 9, a parade route was blocked off from Avenida Arriaga to the Praça do Município, where hundreds of children in their school uniforms carried flowers to place in the Wall of Hope. Thousands of people lined the parade route to see these adorable children proudly marching and representing their schools.

The next day, a parade of 10 floats representing various groups was held along the waterfront, with seating available in grandstands along the route.

The Flower Festival is the perfect opportunity to learn about the culture of Madeira. Busy, yes. Fun, yes. Colorful, yes!


Trenton, FL