La Palma Fiestas - Canary Islands

The Palmerans centainly know how to enjoy life. On this island, hardly a week goes by without a celebration taking place. Mostly the patron saint´s day of each village is celebrated – with a mass and procession. But, whether large or small, processions, folk festivals, horse races and fireworks, as well as plenty of wine, meat and music should never be lacking at any fiesta.

A counterpoint to these lively village celebrations is supplied by the religious holidays: Easter, Corpus Christi, Christmas and the feast of Epiphany. The cattle markets have an earthy, native feel to them, whereas during the Carnival it´s easy to imagine yourself in South America. The following is a summary of the most important fiestas during the next half year.

Bajada de la Virgen de Las Nieves
Beginning of July- August

Ever since the Virgen of the Snows patron Saint of La Palma, saved the island from a catastrophic drought in 1676, she has been carried down from Las Nieves to Santa Cruz de la Palma every five years. What was once a simple religious procession evolved over the centuries into the major event on the island, the Bajada de La Virgen, one of the most lavish and significant festivals on the Canary Islands.

Virgen del Rosario
Beginning 14th august

Every two to three years the Christians fight the Moors in Barlovento. It marks the day of Our Lady of the Rosary, when the Holy League triumphed against the Turks in LEpanto in 1571.

The Lady of the Rosary is the patron of Barlovento and as 2005 is a Bajada year, the Battle of Lepanto will also take place on the evening of August 14th.

Grape Harvest Celebration
Mid-end August
Every second year, in August. Fuencaliente holds its Grape Harvest Celebration. People come streaming in from all over La Palma to tuck into the most typical product of the island´s southern tip: wine.

The climax of the fiesta on August 28th are the Caballos Fuscos. A group of horses-made out of cane covered with coloured paper-dances at midnight on the village square, to the strains of an infectious polka.

Virgen del Pino
22nd August to 4th September

The Virgin Mary is said to have once appeared in the huge pine which casts its shadow over the pilgimege chapel above El Paso. Here, at the foot of the Cumbre, people gather on the first Sunday of September for the Fiesta del Monte.

Every three years the Virgin of the Pine descends to El Paso the next time being in 2006.

Devil´s festival
22nd august to 8th September
The devil´s festival of Tijarafe is by far the most spectacular festival on the island. On the night of September 7th the devil dances through the crowds in the villages square crackling and spitting fire.

San Miguel
10th to 29th September
On 29 th September 1492 Michaelmas day, Alonso Fernández de Lugo landed at Tazacorte and began the conquest of La Palma. That´s why the island is named after the Archangel Michael: San Miguel de La Palma.

The highlight of the festival in honour of the island´s official saint- and patron of Tazacorte- is the Caballos fufos parade. 20 horses made out of cane covered with coloured paper dance through the streets, led by a giraffe, on the night of 28th September.

Christmas and the Feast of Epiphany
Mid December 6th January

The nativity scene is to the Spanish what the Christmas tree is to people in the north. Whole model landscapes with houses, animals and working folk are constructed. Families get together for dinner on Christmas Eve and go out afterwards to attend midnight mass. Father Christmas only visits a few houses with small gifts as the really big ones are brought as ever by the Three Wise Men.
On the evening of January 5th they ride in on their camels, followed by pages, servants and decorated floats, hoping to find the new born Jesus, to worship him.

Festival of the Flowering Almond tree
End of January
The almond blossom festival of Puntagorda takes place at the end of January /beginning of February. People get together, chat, sample the roast almonds, savour the wine and dance the night away. The highlight of the festival is the poetry and folk festival on the Sunday.

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