... the most beautiful pilgrimage on Canary Islands

14 years without enjoying the holidays is a really long time, especially because I’ve always liked a party. I like them even more when it's one of the parties in my hometown - las Fiestas de La Orotava or Fiestas Patronales de La Orotava. Obviously, the parties aren't like they were when I was about 19 or 20, but they're still worth experiencing. There are now many more cultural, folkloric and musical activities and events than back then – which is an okay trade-off 😊

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The La Orotava festivities usually take place in June. In 2018, they will be held between 4th June and 10th June.

It's a very intense week in the village of La Orotava. There are a lot of events during the Fiestas de La Orotava which might only interest the locals, like the election of the Queen and proclamations of parties or institutional acts. There is also a long list of events for visitors and tourists. These are good fun and have a great atmosphere with music, food and traditional Canarian customs.


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Opening days and town festivals events 

The Los Sabandeños concert is on the Monday, which is prior to the main festival days of las Fiestas de La Orotava. It is called El Concierto de la Escalera (The Concert of the Staircase). This is because the concert stage was initially the staircase that leads to Plaza de Franchi Alfaro from Calle Calvario. The concert is free and is a unique opportunity to enjoy the good music of a famous Canarian group. You definitely shouldn't leave until you've heard the Siete vidas tiene un gato song (A cat has seven lives) 😊 You'll get to witness the audience giving it their all and singing along.

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This concert has been held in Plaza de los Salesianos almost every year for more than four decades. The first was in 1977, and the only time the concert was not held was in 1992. This was due to a clash with a scheduled booking at the Expo in Seville.

Tuesday is El Pregón (The Proclamation) of the festivities at the town hall. The 2017 proclamation was very interesting because they discussed the origin of the Octava del Corpus Christi (eighth day from Corpus).

On the Wednesday we'd only planned to go and see the carpet of the town hall square without the awning. You can get into the town hall's meeting room and see the great sand carpet in the square – highly recommended. It's one of the best ephemeral works of art you'll ever see.

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The sand used to make this immense tapestry is from Las Cañadas del Teide National Park.

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Wednesday already has its own event, which has become one of the main events of the festivities over the years. The Cata de Vinos (Wine Tasting) has been held in Plaza del Quinto Centenario almost since the festival's inception. However, due to increasing numbers of people, the event has had to move to the Avenida Mercedes Pinto de Armas. This is near La Milagrosa school and the Casa de Doña Chana.

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You'll need to reserve your ticket a few days in advance for this event. There is a limited number of tickets available, and they all cost €1. The money collected from ticket sales is donated to various non-profit organisations.


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The Octave of Corpus Christi (La Octava del Corpus)

 

The Thursday during the Fiestas de La Orotava has a religious focus, as we celebrate the Octava del Corpus Christi (Octave of Corpus Christi). This celebration and the festivals date back to 1700. We recommend you walk through the streets of the old town. Let yourself be enchanted by the aroma of flowers and plants, which are all freshly cut and leafless that morning. You can walk a circuit that encompasses the town hall square, the school street and Iglesia de La Concepción. Taking this route will mean you can see large carpets and rows of flowers. They are magnificent, colourful and ephemeral works of art created by the town locals.

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In 1847, Mrs Leonor del Castillo (wife of Don Juan Monteverde) spontaneously created a tapestry of flowers outside her house on Calle Colegio. Due to its popularity, it soon became a habit.

Have lunch at one of the restaurants in town or near the Probosco organisation. At around 7pm, you can enjoy the procession and arrival at the great town hall square. This is where the city council's carpet will end, at the step of the Santísimo (Corpus Christi).

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Take your traditional costume out for a spin in the last three days of the La Orotava festivities

Friday night, during Las Fiestas de La Orotava, means that it's time for the Baile de Magos, which is when things really get started. I would recommend walking through the streets of the old town and the town hall area after 11pm. You will see the traditional costume in abundance. Red, white and black will be everywhere. You can also dance and enjoy orchestral music scattered around the different squares in La Orotava.

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If you don't have the traditional costume of La Orotava or of any other island, we recommend renting one. This way you'll be able to feel like a part of one of the best parties in the Canary Islands.

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Las Reses takes places in the morning, which is a cattle exhibition near the Dehesas medical centre. It’s ideal for those who didn't get much sleep, or didn't sleep, after the Baile de Magos. This is an ideal event to take the children to. There is a procession from San Isidro Labrador and Santa María de la Cabeza to the hermitage of Calvario afterwards. At 7pm, the Subida del Santo takes place. Pilgrims dance to drums and typical Canarian songs while taking the saint and virgin to Iglesia de La Concepción. Upon arriving there (a little after 10pm) there will be a fireworks display. Personally, I think it's the most beautiful day of the festivities 😊

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Sunday is a day of ultimate splendour and beauty in town. Colour combines with the joy of Canarian rhythm, follies, Tajaraste, and other popular songs from the magos alongside their carts. The romera mass is celebrated at noon in Iglesia de La Concepción in honour of the saints. This is followed by the pilgrimage in honour of San Isidro Labrador and Santa María de la Cabeza. This lasts several hours (last year more than 100 carts took part) so find a spot and get comfortable. From time to time, ask some of the carts for food as they pass by. The pilgrims and magos generously share popcorn, lupins, meat, boiled eggs and potatoes with the crowd.

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If you take part in the pilgrimage, you need to wear traditional clothing. This can be the La Orotava costume, or ones from other islands. Peasant and fishermen costumes have become increasingly popular over the years. If you decide to take a hat, you always need to wear it. You should also avoid wearing sunglasses or any accessories or items of clothing that aren't part of the traditional costume.

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Final Comments from the Authors about Las Fiestas de La Orotava

I can’t call myself impartial when talking about the festivities in my hometown. But who could deny that they’re some of the most fun and beautiful parties in Spain, if not the world? We invite you to enjoy the elation, the food and wine, the colourful costumes, and lots of beautiful people. Above all, however, enjoy the jealously guarded traditions of the Orotavenses (the locals). We feel very proud to participate and are happy for visitors to join in with the La Orotava festivities.

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Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We'll have to wait another year to see people dancing joyfully and the beauty and splendour in the streets. It'll definitely be worth the wait, don't you think?

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