The Day of the Canary Islands, or the Día de Las Canarias, is marked every single year on the 30th of May with a bank holiday for all island dwellers. This year it falls on a Thursday.
If you’ve fallen under the spell of this magical archipelago, you’ll be intrigued to discover the history behind the Canary Islands Day, and how it’s celebrated in modern times.
The Canaries in May are a blissful place to be, as the temperatures are yet to spike and the crowds are yet to arrive, so if you’ve booked a holiday for this time of year you’re in for a treat. Being there for one of the most important Canary Islands festivals is just an added bonus.
Read on to find out absolutely everything you need to know about the Day of the Canary Islands, and how to get involved in the festivities if you happen to be holidaying on any of the Canary Islands on this special day.
The History of the Day of the Canary Islands
Unfortunately, a lot of national or regional days are held on days on which there was a significant battle or some form of bloodshed, so celebrating them can bring up mixed feelings.
Luckily, with the Day of the Canary Islands, that’s not the case. On May 30th 1983, the first session of the Parliament of the Canary islands was held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, presided over by Pedro Guerra Cabrera.
That marked the start of the residents of the islands starting to have more autonomy and more say over what went on in the archipelago, rather than having everything dictated by a distant central government in Madrid.
That’s the perfect excuse for celebrating the unity of all Canarian people, both those still living on the islands and those spread all over the world, as they’re an adventurous bunch with a fascinating history. These days, the islands have a population of roughly two million.
How Canary Islands Day is Celebrated
The Canaries are made up of seven islands, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. They’re all very different in many ways, but on ‘Canary Day’, they all come together in celebration of their shared, distinctive, rich culture.
If you happen to be on any of the islands over this date then you’re bound to stumble across celebrations, but you can go looking for them, too!
Here are a few of the things to keep an eye out for.
Spice up your Canarian holidays at a food tasting
If you’ve ever been on any Canary Island breaks before, then you’ll know first-hand that the cuisine of the Canary Islands is to die for.
It’s similar to mainland Spanish cuisine in lots of ways, but is also influenced by the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands, the Guanches, who were here long before the Europeans, as well Latin American cuisine, thanks to the large number of Canarians who migrated there during the 20th century.
On the Day of the Canary Islands, there are events held all over the islands that celebrate this cuisine with food tastings. Don’t leave without trying papas arrugadas con mojo (potatoes with a delicious piquant sauce), tortilla (Spanish omelette), tortillas de calabaza (flat pumpkin cakes).
You should sample plenty of local, fresh cheeses and island wines, too. The flavours in both of these are very distinctive thanks to the geology of the islands.
Grab yourself a plate and have a chat with the people serving you or your fellow diners. Locals are normally very proud of their cuisine, and many will be happy to wax lyrical about it should you ask them.
Enjoy some Canary Islands music
There’s no shortage of live music on 30th May. There will be plenty of concerts played by locals in public squares and bars. Just as with the food, Canarian music has been influenced by the Guanches and contact with Latin America.
Cuban music and Canarian music have long been connected. If you’re lucky, you might witness some of the traditional local dances, too.
Witness something unique to the Canary Islands: Lucha Canaria
Lucha Canaria, or Canarian Wrestling, is often described as a mix between wrestling and judo. It’s the most popular local sport, passed down from the original inhabitants of the island. Before the Spanish arrived, it was a way of solving conflicts over land.
There are matches organised all over the different islands on the Day of the Canary Islands, as a celebration of the island’s unique culture. If you’re here for the festivities, then it’s a great opportunity to witness this unique sport for yourself.
Ask locals or your hotel for tips for Canary Island Day
May is one of the best times to visit the Canary Islands, both for the culture and the weather. If you’re visiting the Canary Islands in May and coincide with this regional holiday, be sure to ask at the front desk of your hotel for tips on where to go to enjoy the show put on throughout all of the different islands.
The other way to make sure you don’t miss anything when you’re on your Canary Islands holidays is to just ask the locals. They’re proud of their local culture and so will be happy to point you in the direction of the party.