Popular and traditional festivals in Tenerife

There are treasures to be found on the island of Tenerife in the form of popular festivals: traditions which have survived and are capable in themselves of representing an important part of the identity of this island. All this is thanks to way they have been passed on from generation to generation. These events today form part of an Intangible Cultural Heritage that is today unique in the world and well worth discovering.

The rich variety of traditional festivals forms a wide range that covers all expectations, from the most light-hearted to the most cultural, solemn, pagan or religious; but all of them are undoubtedly imbued with tradition. To some extent they define the character of the people of Tenerife, and the characteristics that are manifested by some of its towns, because when we are dealing with celebrations, each municipality has something to contribute.

Traditional festivals you can’t miss in Tenerife

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

If there is a festival that represents the island of Tenerife as a whole it is the carnival, which has the status of Fiesta of International Tourist Interest. Nearly everyone gets involved during the carnival, which has deep roots among the people. The carnival continued to be held during Franco’s dictatorship, camouflaged under the name of the Winter Fiestas. Carnival is the great pagan fiesta which gave way to the devotion of the Christian lent; it is the great celebration in which you can let your imagination run riot.

The joy of the groups of people, masks and costumes, the allegories, audacity, music and dance, take over the streets of many of the towns on the island. But the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the gold standard, the model. The competitions of street bands, street marchers and serenaders form the introduction to the election of the Carnival Queen before the fiesta takes over the streets.

Recommendation: to enjoy the carnival, all you have to do is be open and be prepared to have a good time. And you will draw attention to yourself if you don’t wear a disguise. Any disguise is good to enjoy the festival, the friendliness of the locals and good atmosphere.

Dances of the Magos

Wearing typical island costumes, many people from Tenerife take part in the Bailes de Magos (Dances of the Magos) organised in many towns of Tenerife. The magos wear the traditional costume of the island, given that mago is the name with which local peasants used to be known. It is a festival in which tradition leads the way. Together with the traditional costumes, there are tastings of exquisite traditional dishes accompanied by the famous wines made on the island. It’s a perfect way to spend the day.

The Bailes de Magos are held from May to October across the whole island. One of the most popular is the one held during the local festival in La Orotava, a place with strong links to agriculture.

Recommendation: you have to attend the Bailes de Magos wearing the correct costume. It’s a matter of pride for everyone to dress like our ancestors did because it’s the only way of looking after our heritage.

Religious processions

Romerias are some of the most unusual festivals on the island of Tenerife. They are held in many towns on the island, usually between April and September. Among the most popular are those of San Marcos in Tegueste, San Isidro Labrador and Santa María de la Cabeza in La Orotava, San Benito Abad in La Laguna, San Roque in Garachico and La Bajada de la Virgen del Socorro in Güímar.

During a procession, people wear typical costumes and walk together with the patron saint through the town streets. There is singing, dancing and traditional food, making up a multicoloured weave of rhythm and tradition.

Recommendation: if you are invited onto a float, don’t think twice about it. They are beautifully decorated and on board you can try cheese, waffles, wine and other home-made items. It’s a great experience.

Corpus Christi in La Orotava

Tenerife is colour. There’s no doubt about it. And La Orotava hosts one of the most representative festivals of all the Canary Islands. Between May and June, the town decks itself out to present to the world delicate tapestries of flowers and volcanic sand in the form of great natural carpets.

This festival has its origin in the mid-19th century when Leonor del Castillo decided to prepare a carpet of flowers in front of her house in calle Colegio. It was a simple geometric work that surprised and found many supporters among the local aristocracy. Today the carpets of flowers cover the whole length of the Corpus Christi Procession in the heart of the old town of Villa de La Orotava. Of particular note is the enormous tapestry in the Town Hall square made using the colourful volcanic sand of the National Park of Teide. It is an impressive but ephemeral work of art.

Recommendation: going to the Town Hall to admire the great tapestry on display in the square is the best way of understanding the attention to detail and work involved in this ephemeral art.

The Goat Bath of Puerto de la Cruz

John´s Day


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