LISBON, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The 18-day Flower Festival concluded on Sunday in Funchal, Capital of Portugal's Madeira Autonomous Region in the Atlantic Ocean, which attracted a record 77,000 visitors from both home and abroad.
The city center of Funchal decorated with various species of colorful flowers had been immersed in an air of festivity throughout the festival. Crowds of people flocked there to admire the beautiful flower carpets, flower walls and folk songs and dances.
On May 6 morning, hundreds of children, dressed in beautiful costumes and accompanied by their parent, marched in the streets with flowers in their hands towards their destination Municipal Square. The children in a long queue built the Wall of Hope with flowers to wish for world peace. More than 1,000 doves were released into the air, a symbol also for peace.
The next day's afternoon, a grand parade of flowers, which attracted most of the visitors during the festival, was held at Avenue de Mar just next to the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of revellers, most of them girls and children, all dressed in costumes and crowns decorated with flowers, sang and danced all along the street.
A retired Dutch couple said that their son recommended Madeira after his March trip. "We choose to visit Madeira during the Flower Festival and really enjoy the happy time the festival is bringing to us," they told Xinhua.
Madeira Island is known as the Island of Flower with its sub-tropical climate best for growth of various species of flowers in the world. The Flower Festival, held annually between April and May is meant to celebrate the advent of the Spring season.
Besides the grand parade of flowers, concerts, traditional songs and dances and classic car show are also held during the festival which is dated back to 1954.
Eduardo Jusus, Secretary of Economy, Tourism and Culture of Madeira Autonomous Region government, said that tourism industry, the pillar of the economy in the Madeira Island, accounts for about a quarter of its economic output.
He said the Funchal municipal government has invested some 420,000 euros for this year's Flower Festival and the hotel occupancy rate in Madeira reached more than 90 percent. The duration of the Flower Festival will be extended for one more week next year, he added.
Jusus said that there have not been quite a lot of Chinese travellers to visit Madeira so far and he hopes that the direct flight between Lisbon and Beijing due to open in July will bring more Chinese visitors to Madeira.