Experience A Living History in the Festivals of the Canary Islands

The archipelago has played host to several significant milestones in the history of humankind, including the departure of Christopher Columbus

The Canary Islands have epic roots. The archipelago has played host to several significant milestones in the history of humankind, including the departure of Christopher Columbus from the port of San Sebastián de La Gomera to the New World in 1492. This event is celebrated each September as part of the Columbus Festivals. Events include exhibitions, concerts, conferences, plays, and sporting events that commemorate this historic expedition. The Canary Islands were the last port of call before America and it was in the archipelago where the water was collected to baptise the new continent.

The archipelago proudly commemorates and celebrates its history through numerous events and festivals all year round…

La Palma
The Day of the Corsair, in La Palma, commemorates the expulsion of François Le Clerc – known as the fearsome Pata de Palo – who besieged and destroyed Santa Cruz de La Palma for a week in 1553. Every August, the inhabitants of La Palma gather in the streets of the capital to recreate the expulsion. Among the key sites for this performance include the Plaza de Santo Domingo and the Castillo de Santa Catalina.

Every summer in the town of Mazo in La Palma there are unique festivals that let revellers return to the classic eras of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Theatrical performances are lived out in the streets and squares. The journey through time is a great opportunity to discover some of the notable characters of the past that have spent time in the municipality. The event is staged in August and enjoys active support from both local inhabitants and visitors.

In Tenerife’s Valle de Guerra Livery there is another traditional theatrical gathering that has been performed for more than a century. In a sacramental performance created in honour of the Virgen del Rosario, the event commemorates the victory of the Holy League over the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto (1571). The impressive parade takes place at a scenic location in Tenerife every October 7. Because of its significance, it has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and is part of the Intangible Heritage Platform of Spain.

There are special historical celebrations in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. These events in the month of July commemorate Spanish troops taking to the streets to confront Horacio Nelson and the British army. In the same place where more than 224 years ago the British admiral lost his arm, there is a historical show in the surroundings of the Castillo de San Juan Bautista. It is part of the so-called “Gesta” of July 25.

Gran Canaria
In June, during the Naval Festival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria celebrates the expulsion of 8,000 pirates and 70 ships led by the Dutch admiral and corsair, Pieter van der Does. The fleet came to conquer the entire archipelago in 1599. The siege and reconquest of the city is represented with a mystical performance held in the historic surroundings of Castillo de Mata. The castle bore witness to the last great battle. Today it is the centre of a re-enactment of the conflict.

Fuerteventura was desired by British army pirates, who were expelled by the Majoreros after the battles of El Cuchillete and Tamasite in 1740. During the conflict in the town of Tuineje the local people defeated the English corsairs armed merely with sticks and stones. This town proudly commemorates these events every October. Historical re-enactments are held during the Fiestas de San Miguel.

El Hierro
The Canary Islands likes to celebrate its deep aboriginal roots. As part of these festivities there is an event called the Carneros de Tigada, held in the municipality of Frontera, in El Hierro. This festival takes place on Carnival Sunday and Tuesday with the parade of people disguised with ram’s antlers and cowbells tied to the waist. Participants faces, legs and arms are decorated in a manner designed to provoke laughter and amusement from the crowds.
For more information on the Canary Islands, please visit www.hellocanaryislands.com