Wednesday, August 15, 2018

History of the Alcalá Fireworks

Fuegos de Alcalá 2015 - Image Ayuntamiento de Guía de Isora

The Alcalá Fireworks, which take place each year on August 15th, are well known as being one of the most spectacular displays and promoted in a campaign by Guía de Isora Town Council and the Festival Commission as an Asset of Tourist Interest. The first historical reference of the Fuegos de Alcalá (Alcalá Fireworks) dates from 1925.

The show has been attracting visitors to its festivities in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria from all over the island, from other parts of the Canary Islands and even from abroad, for almost a century. This spectacular exhibition of light, color and sound is provided by Hermanos Toste, who have been setting the fires of Alcalá for some 80 years, interrupted only during the Civil War and World War II.

Celedonio Toste says that "the Alcalá fireworks are undoubtedly the most showy for the public, but the most difficult to place from the technical point of view" since most of the explosives have to be loaded into boats and taken to lava formations around the bay of the town, in addition to carrying more than 2000 sacks of sand, weighing between 20 and 30 kilos each, to place with the explosives safely on the rocks. This requires about two or three days work.

Researcher José María Mesa says that the first historical reference to this part of the festivities appears in 1925. At that time, "a fishing boat launched the fireworks, moving parallel to the coast, until it reached the end of the harbour wall", where the dances were held. The following year, 1926, fireworks would also be launched from a boat in the area of ​​the hermitage and one of the great successes of the show introduced: "beautiful fireworks will also be burned on the cliff called Baja de Afuera", according to the program of the festivities of that year.

The festivities included the so-called walks with music or dances with pianola, supposedly held on the harbour wall, which is the elevated area next to the jetty, today La Muralla street. The fireworks then were made by José and Manuel Rodríguez Alonso, belonging to a family of famous foremen of Guía de Isora. The Alcalá Fireworks were novel from the beginning, although their great impulse was achieved with the development of tourist areas in neighboring municipalities. Today it is difficult to see the fireworks from Alcalá unless you arrive several hours before.

The cost of the fireworks is one of the best kept secrets by the fiestas commission apparently (I guess that means they cost an awful lot). For the last couple of decades, they accounted for around one third to one half of the entire fiesta budget. Collecting the money each year requires a great effort, collecting house to house, from local businesses, organizing events, etc.

The fireworks are set off from four points: the Baja de Afuera, Filo Méndez, Baja de Tierra and around the perimeter of the bay. They have grown in quantity, quality and spectacle, but they have maintained the same scheme for more than 40 years: its charm is the stage, composed of the volcanic lava flows, the jetty and harbour wall.

La historia de los Fuegos de Alcalá de Guía de Isora

Pyrotechnics Hermanos Toste was commissioned by the Festival Commission of Alcalá to provide the show in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria in her "Noche de Fuegos".



Fuegos Alcalá 2017

Fluent in Spanish and having spent 16 years on the island, Pamela Stocks has now been translating, researching and publishing information on customs and events in Tenerife for 25+ years. This takes a considerable amount of time and effort, for which she receives no payment whatsoever. If you find this work useful or interesting, please buy her a coffee. Buy Pamela Stocks a Coffee

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