Say it With Flowers, Tenerife’s Corpus Christi Flower Carpets

Mon, May 16th, 2011 - By Jack Montgomery

In a few weeks time, tens of thousands of people will flock to Tenerife’s classiest town, La Orotava near Puerto de la Cruz to enjoy what is arguably the most colourful celebration in Tenerife…it’s definitely the sweetest smelling one.

For one day only, on the 30th June, the historic streets between the town hall, the Iglesia de la Concepción and the wonderful Casas de los Balcones are lovingly carpeted with floral displays featuring eye-catching designs that range from the religious to the artistic to the poignant.

From early morning families occupy plots on the old cobbled streets, painstakingly snipping petals from boxes of various, vibrantly coloured flowers. These are the tools of the alfombristas (carpet layers) who meticulously arrange seeds and cut flowers on the ground to gradually reveal what are often incredibly detailed designs.

The star of La Orotava’s Corpus Christi show is the record breaking tapestry in front of the town hall. This 850 square metre carpet isn’t actually constructed from flowers; it’s made from sand and soil from Las Cañadas del Teide which makes the range of tones and level of detail in each year’s design all the more astounding.

Where the floral carpets in the surrounding streets are delightful, the sand tapestry is a work of art. A different theme is chosen each year; for 2011 it will be ‘God gives us his son, Jesus’. Although the religious aspect is a constant, there is usually another theme running through the design which can sometimes have a surprisingly emotional impact (a solidarity with Africa message a couple of years ago), or just simply be enchanting (butterflies in 2010). The best position to view the sand carpet is from the balconies in the town hall. You may have to queue for a short while but trust me on this one, it’s worth the wait.

There’s an infectous party atmosphere in La Orotava during Corpus Christi. Apart from perfumes from the flower filled streets, the air is filled with sweet scents from candy floss stalls and deliciously spicy aromas from small makeshift restaurants called guachinches – perfect pit stops for some R&R (aka a cerveza or two accompanied by savoury pork pinchos) when the feet get tired of pounding the floral beat. Wandering musicians add a jaunty soundtrack to complete a picture that presents a real treat of a day out for all the senses.

The route through the flower carpets can become quite claustrophobic by around midday when the crowds reach their zenith and progress along the street slows to a particularly sloth-like snail’s pace. The best time to enjoy the flower carpets is in the middle of siesta time; around 3.30pm. By then the designs are completed and there’s hardly anyone else around as all the locals are off gorging themselves in one of the nearby restaurants. Don’t leave a visit too late though as just after 6pm a procession leaves the town hall and tramples across the sand tapestry and through the lovingly created flower carpets on its way to the Iglesia de la Concepción.

Although La Orotava’s flower carpets are by far the best on Tenerife, there are other places on the island where visitors can enjoy less grand affairs such as in Santa Cruz, Adeje, Vilaflor and also Tacoronte.

Posted : Monday, May 16th, 2011 at 11:59 am
Category : festivals & carnivals
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5 Responses to “Say it With Flowers, Tenerife’s Corpus Christi Flower Carpets”

  1. […] are not terms that mix well). Then there’s Corpus Christi and the enchanting La Orotava flower carpets followed by a flamboyant romería (harvest festival) in the same town. It’s also the month […]

  2. […] on Tenerife Corpus Christi – The streets of La Orotava are decorated with flower carpets and an elaborate, record-beating sand tapestry is created in the plaza in front of the town hall. […]

  3. […] in the valley of the same name. The home to some of the best fiestas on Tenerife, including the Corpus Christi flower carpets, there are wonderful colonial mansions to explore and quaint restaurants tucked away in ramshackle […]

  4. […] and don’t miss the bronze sculpture of the alfombrista – La Orotava’s famous flower carpet makers – behind the […]

  5. […] disappoint. Steeped in history with stunning architecture, beautiful gardens and the incredible Corpus Cristi flower carpets, this is the place to buy traditional handcrafts and get a feel for Tenerife’s noble past. The […]

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