Canary Islands Christmas
Here we are in Easter Week and already, our visitors have shown that they are beginning to think of Christmas 2006 in the Canary Islands. Of course, one has to make travel plans in advance, so here are some ideas for you:
Christmas week is said to be the busiest week of the entire year for tourism in Tenerife. As Christmas Day 2006 will fall on a Monday, the busiest day for arrivals at the airport is likely to be the Friday, December 22nd, with a few more coming on Sunday, December 24th.
Traditional christmas, only warmer… and someone else cooks!
If what you want is a British-style Christmas – turkey and stuffing – with added sun, then you can have that. Many of the British bars in the resorts put on a Christmas Lunch. Better ones may require reservations, so make that a priority on the night you arrive. With satellite TV available almost everywhere, you can probably still catch the Queen’s Speech too.
If, for a change, you want to catch the King of Spain’s Christmas Message, first you’ll need to understand Spanish, of course, but that is broadcast on Christmas Eve. If you follow the religious traditions, check out the church in Los Cristianos to see if they have a multilingual carol service on Christmas Eve, as they have been known to do in the past. It’s fun.
Prices for Christmas week itself are at a premium, of course, but that is probably offset by the fact that you don’t need to worry about Christmas food, gifts and decorations at home and, it’s probably worth it just to have someone else cook the Christmas Dinner!
If you fall asleep on the beach after your Christmas Lunch, even at Christmas, prepare to be burnt crisper than an overdone turkey dinner. Toasted tourist isn’t very tasty!
Escape the traditional christmas dinner
If you want to escape the whole “traditional Christmas Dinner” thing, be warned that you may find restaurants outside of the resort areas closed on Christmas Day. This is not because the locals are celebrating, it’s because they’re resting from having done so the night before. Christmas Eve is a family gathering, Christmas Day is for recuperation.
Depending on the weather, many locals will head off up the mountain on Christmas Day. The 3,718 meter high Mount Teide, the dormant volcano at Tenerife’s heart, does often get snowcapped for Christmas and is a beautiful sight to behold. As are the Christmas pine trees, seasonal red poinsettias and other natural “decorations” you’ll see on the way.
The ideal conditions are enough snow to play in, but not too much to close the roads. You will need warm clothing, but wrap up, throw snowballs, forget the turkey and trimmings and snack on churros con chocolate and the odd lumumba (hot chocolate with brandy) for the non-drivers. Barbie a few prawns when you get back down to the warm coastal air.
New year, New clothes
If local street atmosphere is what you want, you would do better to wait until New Year, with probably an arrival date of Friday, December 29th. New Year’s Eve sees pretty big street parties in most towns of any size. In Santa Cruz in the Plaza de España – and in 2006 the chimes will be televised from Tenerife – will likely be the location for the busiest party.
Similarly, the church square in Los Cristianos is usually rocking. Wherever the party, you’ll need 12 grapes to eat along with the chimes. These will be followed by really superb fireworks displays and either a band or a disco until around dawn. New clothes are mandatory – this is another tradition to bring good luck – party hats optional.
Canary islands christmas, like the canarians do
But, if you want to see local traditions and celebrate the season in the Canary Islands, as the Canarians do, then you need to be here on the evening of January 5th. That date in 2007, is a Friday, so depending on the times of flights, you may need to have arrived the week before on Friday, December 29th or on the Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007.
In either case, you may actually save money by waiting until after Christmas week itself, so this offers the best value, both in seeing something new and getting away from the January cold. Knowing what I know now, if I had to choose just one event out of the Christmas Season in the Canary Islands, I’d choose to be here for this celebration.
What you can expect to find are Los Reyes Magos – The Three Kings. This is when gifts are brought to children in the Canary Islands and is the biggest date of the entire winter holiday season, with parades through the streets in most towns, large and small. We have a full account of the parade, along with photos from Los Reyes 2006 in Garachico, so that you can get an idea of what is involved. It beats Santa in entertainment value any day!
And no, you don’t need to bring or be a kid to enjoy it. Nobody’s granny misses it, but you’ll also find that the local teenagers attend, willingly, without losing their “street cred”.
Of course, you can see any of this if you stay on the south of the island, where most of the tourist accommodation is. You only need to go to Los Cristianos for one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties or one of the most spectacular parades of The Three Kings.
Alternatively, choose to stay in Puerto de la Cruz. The weather may not be quite so warm as the south, but there will be all the authentic celebrations right in the town itself.
To really be in the thick of it, with ringside seats, so to speak, the pageant at the end of the Three Kings parade in Garachico is held in the very same square as the Hotel La Quinta Roja, a restored 16th Century mansion. Just a couple of streets around the corner and only a hundred or so years later in construction, is the Hotel San Roque. Having seen various Three Kings parades in different towns around Tenerife, Garachico’s is still my favorite. Not too big, not to small, but with lots of atmosphere in glorious surroundings.
Secret Tenerife is all about the lesser known side of Europe’s favourite winter sun playground. Visit us for daily images, free downloads, postcards and wallpaper and more. Read more articles on Christmas in the Canary Islands. http://www.secret-tenerife.com/christmas.html. Source: www.isnare.com
Canary Islands winter at Flickr