10 Tips for Surviving Fiestas on Tenerife

Wed, June 20th, 2012 - By Jack Montgomery

There seems to be a shindig on Tenerife featuring traditional dress, singing, dancing, processions and bizarre rituals every other week. If you’re out and about and spot a dark-eyed chica in a flowing rainbow-coloured skirt or a muchacho sporting a scarlet waistcoat, the chances are they’re on their way to a fun-filled fiesta. The smart thing to do is to follow them and join in the party.

But there are some essential tips you need to know before you jump in.


Handing out food at a Romería in Tenerife

Parking in Tenerife’s towns can be a challenge at the best of times; during fiesta it’s a free-for-all. People park absolutely anywhere. As soon as you see cars abandoned by the roadside follow suit even though you might be a couple of kilometres from your destination.

If there’s a parade involved, you’re going to be standing for a long time. Punctuality and Tenerife don’t always share the same bed. If proceedings don’t start on time don’t get narky, chill out and enjoy the atmosphere around you.

For years I devised strategies for finding a good position during fiesta parades and processions. None ever worked. As soon as parades start an extended Canarian family will mysteriously appear in front of you. Thankfully most are only about 5ft tall.


Live Band , Carnival in Santa Cruz

Some fiestas like the Día de la Embarcación in Puerto de la Cruz in July can attract upwards of 35,000 people. If you don’t like crowds, it might be best to avoid the bigger fiestas.

Fiestas last for hours, days and even weeks. Don’t expect to turn up, have a look around and leave. To get the best you’ve got to sign up for a few hours at least.

At romerías (traditional harvest type fiestas) like those held in La Orotava (June) and Garachico (August), the wine flows freely and you will be offered plenty. Unless you fancy glugging out of a goatskin, buy a ‘vaso de romería’ (romería glass on a string). It’s cheap, handy and makes a nice souvenir.

As well as wine, people will literally throw food at you during romerías – usually from ox-drawn carts. Don’t be British and think it’s polite to refuse. Accept everything – it’s a great way to sample local nosh.


Enjoying the Fiesta, Tenerife

Pace Yourself
Alcohol plays a big part during fiestas, especially ones such as carnival in Santa Cruz (Feb/March). Kiosks sell cheap cañas (small beers) and combinados (spirit with mixer). Don’t do as a friend did and knock the combinados back like water; they’re the equivalent of 4 shots. She didn’t make it to midnight.

Join In
Everybody is welcome at Tenerife’s fiestas so don’t stand on the sidelines. If there’s a band, get into the middle of the salsa-ing crowd; if it’s a beach party to welcome in Midsummer (Puerto de la Cruz) pick up a bottle of wine and join the beach bums; if it’s an agricultural fair, squeeze in with the caballeros at a kiosk. Experience the fiesta don’t just watch it.

Have Fun
And finally, the most important way to enjoy fiestas is to go with the flow. Fiestas might be boisterous, loud and packed with people – but they’ll all be happy, smiling people. Join them and have some fun.

Posted : Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 at 8:35 am
Category : festivals & carnivals
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