When we think about Mardi Gras carnivals, most often the first locations that come to mind are Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and perhaps Trinidad. But the start of the Lenten season is celebrated in many parts of the world with the outpouring of dance, music, color, and joy known as Carnival. While each region’s celebrations have a few elements in common–typically the all include grand parades with samba dancers and floats, all decorated in lavish costumes–there are many notable regional differences. For example, in my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Carnaval SF is unique for its array of “comparsas” (samba school contingents) representing the cultural traditions of all of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as parts of Asia.
This year I had the great pleasure of capturing Mardi Gras Carnival images on assignment in Funchal, capital of the tiny island group of Madeira. While politically a part of Portugal, Madeira is located off the coast of Morocco in North Africa and has a decidedly different cultural flair than what is found in mainland Portugal. Samba and Carnival were essentially invented by African slaves in Brazil while it was a Portuguese colony, and the samba parade traditions have migrated back to Portugal where celebrations are held throughout the country. Given its location between Africa and Europe, Madeira combines distinct cultural traditions from both regions and offers a special flavor of Carnival that I found exhilarating. And best of all, the celebrations roll on over a whole week with numerous events, retaining a true local flavor with few tourists.
Today’s post features some of my favorite images from this year’s Carnival events on Madeira. If you’d like to see more photos, or to purchase a few, please visit https://www.kadlerphotography.com/Travel-Photography/Madeira-Carnival/. I am grateful to the Madeira Promotion Bureau for their assistance providing access to the Carnival events. Enjoy!