To come, to see and to interact, whether as a spectator or as a participant, should you so desire. From 26 February to 6 March, the Mardi Gras Carnival festivities and good cheer sweep the pretty island of Madeira.
Good moods rule throughout the land — in the city’s streets, in the upbeat and colourful processions and in the bars and clubs that stage thematic parties, encouraging their clients to get into the carnival mood and preferably in full fancy-dress.
However, it is in private homes and residence that the so-called “invasions” take place: visits expected to a greater or lesser extent, from friends in order to get together for lively sessions of “bailarico” dancing late into the night but always accompanied by fine, traditional snacks, including of course sweet pastries such as malassadas, sonhos and fatias douradas.
On this vast festive program comes the allegorical cortege on Carnival Saturday that comes after practically twelve months of preparations and choreographic rehearsals. This provides a burst of colour over the island with the participation of many, many thousands, both residents and tourists, who gather to watch the procession.
The procession revellers, stunningly dressed, make their way singing and dancing to the rhythm of samba alongside allegorical floats decorated with such passion that they all involve a certain happy magic in an undoubtable display of the Brazilian influence on the Madeiran Carnival.
The festive program also includes the Trapalhão Cortege, held on Carnival Tuesday when everybody may participate in a trial: Compadres and Comrades are the accused, represented by dolls that satirize bad habits of a social and moral type, who are, in the end, condemned to burn at the stake.
Carnival also belongs to the young. Throughout the holiday season, young revellers hold processions through the city centre… Lions, frogs, witches, monsters and princesses… They know what it’s about! And they dance samba!
Original text by Graça Furtado/ English version by Kevin Rose/ Photo by Turismo da Madeira
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