Madeira enjoys more than its fair share of festivals: throughout the summer the Madeirans, and those fortunate enough to join them on this beautiful island, celebrate the lemon, banana and onion (limão, banana and cebola respectively) in specially-organised festive occasions in different rural locations dotted across the island . |
However, for oenophiles the Madeira Wine Festival is one Madeiran experience that is simply not to be missed. Stay in one of many 5 star hotels in Madeira over the duration of the Wine Festival for the best access to the festivities, and a late summer getaway to remember.
Claimed by Portugal during the 1600s, Madeira has played an important role in winemaking ever since. Thanks to its key position en route to the New World, the island’s wine was taken on long voyages. Grape spirits were added to the wine in an effort to prevent it spoiling. The wine’s exposure to constant movement and heat on these great sea journeys is what changed its taste.
Today the wine is heated in great vats for a minimum of three months, and then rested for at least another three – simulating the effect of the composition-altering sea voyages of yesteryear.
The Festival: 27 August – 10 September 2017
Held annually for a fortnight spanning the end of August and start of September, this year’s dates are 27 August until 10 September inclusive. For the best base to enjoy the festivities, we strongly recommend that you stay in Funchal, in one of its many 5 star hotels. In Madeira the wine festival starts bright and early at 7.30am in Câmara de Lobos approximately fifteen minutes east of the capital. Instead of deciding who has to drive, take the bus so you can both enjoy the local tipples!
You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into the past upon getting off the bus. You’ll be surrounded by locals in their traditional dress playing their folk music and picking grapes from the vines hanging overhead. Then follows a spectacular parade through the streets, and the opportunity for all to get involved in the treading of the grapes for free! The mood is jubilant and the streets are overflowing with wine and street food stalls, and each year we receive glowing reviews from happy clients who have experienced the festival.
Further Fun in Funchal
After the party there will be ample opportunities to delve further into the island’s rich history in winemaking in the capital of Funchal. Take a stroll along the Avenida Arriaga where you can appreciate the displays of historic grape picking baskets, barrels, presses and casks, as well as catching a re-enactment of the traditional wine production process by local actors.
In the sun-drenched streets of Funchal you’ll fall in love with the local cuisine and really grow to appreciate the island’s rich heritgae and culture. Sample the delightful regional dishes, peruse the stalls and exhibitions of tradictional handicrafts and take in a performance by a local folklore troupe.
Stay Somewhere Central and Soaked in Culture
With an abundance of 5 star hotels in Madeira there is something extra special to offer in its quintas. Directly translated, ‘quinta’ is the Portuguese for ‘farm’, although it can also refer to an estate with a grand stately residence or a vineyard.
To further enhance your stay, relax in one of our specially-chosen quintas – the perfect base from which to enjoy the Madeira Wine Festival to its fullest.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing accommodation in luxury 5 star hotels in Madeira as well as Sicily, The Canaries, Bermuda and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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