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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fiestas in August in Playa San Juan, Tenerife

A Secret Tenerife reader, we'll call her Julie, writes,
"About three years ago we stayed in Los Gigantes in August. We took a boat trip to San Juan and watched the most spectacular fire work display from our boat. We think this was to celebrate the fisherman's festival. We want to travel again to Tenerife and hopefully see this festival again. Does the date of this festival change?"
This is indeed a regular date and, in Playa San Juan, is held on the first weekend of August, where, "A lively fiesta lights up the resort in early August when the Virgen del Carmen is taken down to the fishing boats amidst dancing and fireworks."

Firework displays are always amazing in Tenerife and are an integral part of every fiesta, but the one to which Julie is referring is for the Fiestas del Carmen - in honour of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel), who "looks after" fishermen.

According to a pious tradition the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock at Cambridge, England, on Sunday, 16 July, 1251. This explains why the rightful day for her festivities is July 16th, but I have yet to discover how she became implicated in the fishing trade and why she is specially venerated in the Canary Islands.

Fiestas del Carmen are held July and August at various locations in Tenerife including; Santa Cruz, Puerto de la Cruz and in Puerto Santiago, near Los Gigantes. The fiestas move on to other towns on other dates, so that they don't all coincide at once.

The Grand Fireworks display in Puerto Santiago, for instance, was held on Saturday 15 July in 2006 and, on 17th July in 2005. Santa Cruz also celebrates this fiesta, on the closest Sunday to the 16th of July, followed by Playa San Juan, on the first Sunday in August and Playa de Alcalá, which, unlike the other two, worships La Virgen de Candelaria.
"The Toste brothers from Los Realejos - the company that puts on the show - did themselves proud, from a set piece depicting our Lady of Carmen which had been floated out on a pontoon, to the non stop eardrum splitting finale that lit up the sky for kilometers around, it was a superb display and a fantastic evening as the party went on until the early hours in the plaza."
The reason for mentioning all of these celebrations on the west of Tenerife is that, coming one after the other, there is this tendency for each village to try to outdo the last. Playa San Juan tries to beat the, already grand, Puerto Santiago Fireworks and Alcalá fireworks have the reputation locally of having the biggest display. So, whether you come for the weekend nearest to July 16th for Puerto Santiago's celebrations, the first weekend in August for those in Playa San Juan or the magical night of August 15th in Playa de Alcalá - you can be sure of seeing a really grand firework display.

NOTE: Though the actual day of the fiesta is always likely to be the Sunday, the fireworks displays can be expected to be on the Saturday night.