Columbus has close links with the archipelago of Madeira and, in particular, with the island of Porto Santo. Not only was this the land where he was a sugar trader, but more importantly, he married the daughter of Bartolomeu Perestrelo, the first captain-major of the island, which led him to make his home here between 1480 and 1482. In order to commemorate this association, Porto Santo steps back in time to the fifteenth century with the annual Columbus Festival. The event is in its twelfth year and this year takes place from 15th to 17th September.
The Columbus Festival has become quite a tradition on the island, which decks itself out for the occasion, recreating the look and the atmosphere of the Age of Discovery. Both locals and visitors are encouraged to participate as extras in the reenactments - period costumes are provided - and there is much to appeal to both young and old. This tribute to the man who would become the greatest navigator of his time is a perfect opportunity to discover the charms of Porto Santo.
The festivities begin when Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, sails into port crewed by a cast of actors who reenact the landing scene and bring to life different scenes from the period. The programme also includes the cast of a military garrison, pirates, a fifteenth-century fair, a corner specially designed for kids with clowns, acrobats and jugglers, as well as parades and street performances. There will even be a traditional pig roast and plenty of opportunities to sample the delicious regional cuisine.
The streets will bustle with costumed figures and ring with the sounds of the past, giving a marvellous perspective on the pretty Madeira island, perfect for history lovers of all ages. The celebrations will draw to a close with Columbus and his intrepid crew setting sail again, aboard the legendary Santa Maria.