"We're going to have 152 performances in total, during the period from 1 December to 7 January, and among these 152 performances, we have 54 concerts taking place in the Placa Central, one per weekday and two per holiday or weekend," announced the Regional Secretary for Tourism and Culture, Eduardo Jesus, at a press conference today.

There will also be 24 performances by various children's choirs, 40 performances by folklore groups and 34 shows by philharmonic bands, among other initiatives that will take place in the streets of Funchal during this period, which is one of Madeira's biggest tourist attractions.

Among the novelties, the minister highlighted the reading of a Christmas story on 20 December, on Avenida Arriaga, on the stage where the concerts will take place, as well as Christmas face painting on 18 and 19 December.

The traditional Christmas market, located on the central plaza of Avenida Arriaga, will also be open between Friday and 7 January, with the market opening at 10:00 and closing at 00:00 between Sunday and Monday, and closing at 01:00 at weekends.

On 23, 30 and 31 December it will close at 04:00, but on 24 December it will only open until 18:00 and on 25 December and 01 January it will be optional.

Hotel occupancy for Christmas is expected to be 70 per cent, said the regional secretary for tourism, noting that he doesn't yet have the figures for New Year's Eve.

On 31 December, in addition to the concerts in the city centre, the fireworks will be preceded by "20 minutes of entertainment using laser projections and other effects, creating a ballet of lights", said Eduardo Jesus.

"We'll have 59 firework stations, 27 located in the Funchal amphitheatre, 25 between Pier 8 and Almirante Reis beach, five at sea and two in Porto Santo," he said.

According to Eduardo Jesus, this year's programme, which includes the illuminations, represented an investment of 3.9 million euros for the Madeiran government, 20,000 euros more than last year.

In addition to the Regional Government's programme, there are also initiatives by the Funchal City Council, including the Christmas Village, next to the Praça do Município, and an ice rink in the Almirante Reis area, both of which are already up and running.