Madeira tempts UK holidaymakers with promise of festive fun without the cold

UK holidaymakers are being urged to visit the island resort of Madeira for the festive season for seasonal celebrations without the winter chill.

Voted Europe’s Leading Island Destination at the World Travel Awards eight years in a row, the Portuguese island sits on the same latitude as Casablanca and has some of the most breath-taking scenery in Europe.

The destination is attracting increasing numbers of younger travellers and hosts spectacular festive celebrations.

In Madeira, the whole month of December – known as the ‘Festa’ – is dedicated to festive fun.

The expansive valley of the capital, Funchal, is lit up with lights that put London’s to shame and the New Year’s Eve fireworks – listed in the Guinness Book of Records – rival those in Sydney, but without the crowds and long-haul flight.

Christmas markets are filled with local delicacies, such as honey biscuits, liqueurs and the island’s signature drink, Poncha.

Their world-famous Carne Vinho e Alhos served throughout December is not to be missed – a tender pork dish, marinated with wine and garlic and present in most family homes.

Funchal is also home to the famous ‘Market Night Party’, a traditional Christmas celebration that lasts all night long.

The famous Funchal market (Mercado dos Lavradores) and surrounding streets are packed with joyful locals singing carols, dancing, and drinking their way into the night.

The local bars are open for guests all night, serving traditional festive beverages.

Madeira is the perfect choice for a relaxing, winter-warming holiday, packed with festive celebrations.

Most UK tour operators now run regular winter flights and offer holidays with a variety of accommodation options.

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Currently, tourists can enter Madeira with proof of vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid-19 or proof a negative Covid-19 antigen test result from within 48 hours of boarding their flight.

Nuno Vale, executive director of the Madeira Promotion Authority, said the island was the first destination in Portugal to implement a health certification system for tourist facilities.

“The measures that we took in the islands put us in a very good position,” he added.

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