Christmas season in Madeira is only over after Santo Amaro's day, on the 15th January. On Santo Amaro's day is the day of "Varrer dos armários" (the cleaning of the shelves) which is a tradition in several parishes of Madeira. People visit friends and family with a broom and the hosts have a table full of the traditional delicacies of Christmas. So the visitants eat and drink and when leaving the house they leave a broom with the date and year carved on it.
So, until middle January there is still the opportunity to admire the Christmas scenes built all around the island and which will only be dismantled after Santo Amaro's day. A suggestion we leave here this year is to visit the Nuns Valley and its mega Christmas scene built by the Associação Refúgio da Freira.
On this amazing Christmas crib it is represented many of the Madeira traditions and customs. This walkable artwork is visitable everyday until the 22nd of January 2012, from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
In Madeira tradition dictates that homes are decorated on the holiday of the 8th of December - day of Our Lady of Conception. Despite the Christmas tree it is typical to assemble the Christmas crib or, as we call in Madeira, "a Lapinha". Normally the Lapinha can be build in 2 different ways:
the usual Christmas scene with the figures of Holy Mary, Baby Jesus, Joseph, the 3 wise men but then with many sheep, cows, donkeys, shepherds and children miniatures and some offerings as fruits of the season around.
An altar where baby Jesus is on the top and his offerings placed around him
It is also common to decorate the Lapinha with searinhas which are crops of corn, wheat, lentil or lupine in small vases. Its seeds are usually soaked for 1 or 2 days and then are planted on the 8th of December so they are relatively grown on Christmas day. Some native plants to Madeira are also used such as the Climbing Butcher's Broom Semele androgyna - Alegra-campo in Portuguese, the Hare's Foot Fern Davallia canariensis - Cabrinhas and some other not native as the Lady Slipper Orchids Paphiopedilum sp..
For the 6th consecutive year Funchal is holding an International Film Festival in Baltazar Dias Theatre, from the 12th to the 19th of November 2011 and this time it will make a tribute to two important men in the universe of cinema: Terry Jones, a British known by his innovations in the comedy world and Roberto Farias, a Brazilian with many feature films produced and directed.
The Programme of the 6th Funchal International Film Festival is divided into the Films competition with several categories and with some special screennings:
International Competition for Feature Films
International Competition for Short Films
Premiere Madeira - competitive section for films produced in Madeira Island
Naval Video Sub - special section for sea movies
International Year Comemorations
Special Retrospective for the Faria's Family
AnimArte - special programme for the young audience
The schedules and titles of each film will be disclosed soon and you will easily get it in Baltazar Dias Theatre, downtown Funchal or at your hotel.
Camacha - Choupana - Curral dos Romeiros - Monte ( 6+2+2 Km)
Starting point: Vale Paraíso, Camacha
Finishing point: Choupana / Curral dos Romeiros / Monte
This walk can be done by everyone, you just need to tailor the walk according to your wishes and physical conditions. You may just walk the first/easiest part of it (A) or also the following sections (B and C) if suited for you.
Advices on equipment: raincoat, warm sweater, walking boots/comfortable shoes, water, some money for a tea on the way and a bag to keep litter with you.
Section A: Vale Paraíso, Camacha – Choupana
Distance: Approx. 6 km Difficulty grade: 2 – Easy walk Walking time: Approx. 2 Hours (slow walking) Name of the levada: Levada da Serra do Faial Description: The begining of the levada is signaled by a wooden sign written Choupana - Monte. Trek on a wide walking path for about one hour through some exotic forest and some inhabited areas with views over Funchal amphitheatre and its bay. When you get to a break on the leavad path due to an old cobblestone road, take left and go down that old road for about 5 minutes until you get to a tarmac road. Cross that tarmac road and continue downhill towards Choupana Hills Resort & Spa and soon you will be at Largo da Choupana. Bus to Camacha: Nº129 departs from Funchal everyday at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 & 14:30, among other scheduled buses. For the levada walk get out at Estrada para Carreiras Friendly tip: Stop at Choupana Hills Resort & Spa for a complete tea (12,5€), for a snack or even for dinner while enjoying its peaceful atmosphere and nice landscape. Bus from Choupana: if you were at Choupana Hills for a meal they might offer their scheduled courtesy bus back to Funchal. If not there is a public bus that departs from Choupana every week day at 12:35, 13:35 & 18:55.
Section B: Choupana – Curral dos Romeiros
Distance: Approx. 2 km Difficulty grade: 3 – Moderate walk. Walking time: Approx. 30 Minutes (slow walking) Name of the levada: Levada dos Tornos Description: After you reached Largo da Choupana just go down the same road for a few meters more and you will find Levada dos Tornos on your right. Follow that levada westwards and on an easy walk with only a few short vertiginous sections, you will get to Curral dos Romeiros. If you wish to finish your walk here, take the steep flight of concrete steps on your left, just before getting to the village. Bus from Curral dos Romeiros: Nº 29 runs everyday at 12:40, 16:00 & 19:05, among other scheduled buses
Section C: Curral dos Romeiros - Monte
Distance: Approx. 2 km Difficulty grade 3 – Moderate walk. Walking time: Approx. 40 Minutes (slow walking) Description: Following the Levada dos Tornos, you will soon have to divert from it, just after a sharp bend in the levada that passes by a waterfall you should take the steep steps down to the village. The way to Monte is then on a path, not along a levada, which goes down in the valley and then up again to get to Monte. This part of the walk is not advisable for those who suffer from vertigo. Buses from Monte: Nº 20, 21 & 48 running everyday, regularly.
Note: The bus schedules, tea price and the description of the levada were updated on the 6th of October 2011. After this date this data may change, so it is always better to confirm it before you do the levada walk.