Romerias in Tenerife: experience one of the island's oldest traditions
Every year, from January onwards, 'romerias' take place all over Tenerife. But what are romerias in Tenerife and when and where do they happen?
If you’re the kind of person that really likes to get under the skin of the places you visit, then Tenerife is the perfect place for you. As well as offering beautiful scenery and weather, it’s bursting with cultural attractions. One of the best cultural experiences you can have on the island is going along to one of the many romerias in Tenerife.
These unique events are something every traveller to the Canary Islands looking for hidden Tenerife has to see for themselves. But what is a Tenerife romeria? What do you need to know before you visit one? Read on for all the key facts.
What is a romeria in Tenerife?
A romeria in Tenerife, just like all the best traditional celebrations, is the result of a hotchpotch of Christian and pagan beliefs. It’s essentially a mix between a harvest festival and a religious pilgrimage, and any kind of pilgrimage will always involve a walk, however short.
Romerias in Tenerife are held all over the island during the year to honour the village’s local saint, to whom the success of the harvest is attributed. It’s hard to know exactly how long romerias have been going on, but, for example, the romeria in Garachico is known to have been taking place since the 17th century, as it was first held to give things to San Roque for helping the village through a plague epidemic.
The fact that it’s a harvest festival means that eating and drinking have always been big parts of the celebration. These days, the main focus of these events in Tenerife is on the fun, with carts processing through the streets, and animals everywhere.
Everything starts with a mass in tribute to the saint, and then the saint is paraded around the village. The carts follow along pulled by oxen and carrying food, and everyone processes along until they reach the central square, where the party continues.
Locals wear brightly coloured traditional dress, and there are traditional parranda groups playing music whilst people dance. There’s also plenty of local Canary Islands wine and food, with dishes such as Canarian ‘wrinkled’ potatoes, carne fiesta and gofio.
If it sounds a little crazy and chaotic, that’s because it usually is! It’s great fun to be involved with, but it’s always good to know what you’re letting yourself in for before you dive headfirst into the Tenerife local culture.
When are the best romerias in Tenerife held?
The celebrations kick off in January and last nearly all year, so you’re fairly likely to coincide with one on your holiday in Tenerife when you’re looking for things to do in Tenerife.
If you’re in Tenerife in January, then the year begins with a romeria in a small village in the north of the island, called Tigaiga, which celebrates the feast day of Saint Anthony of Abbot, the patron saint of animals. A dozen other villages in Tenerife also celebrate the same saint over the following days.
Here are some of the other most popular romerias for you to discover:
- 20/01/2020 – Romeria of San Sebastian – Adeje
- 26/04/2020 – Romeria of San Marcos – Tegueste
- 31/05/2020 – Romeria of San Isidro Labrador – Los Realejos
- 21/06/2020 – Romeria of San Isidro – La Orotava
- 12/07/2020 – Romeria in honour of St Benedict the Abbot – La Laguna
- 07/09/2020 – Bajada de la Virgen del Socorro – Güímar
Here’s a full list of all of the romeria events in Tenerife for you to check out.
More details about these unique festivals in Tenerife
Romerias in Tenerife normally start in the early afternoon and go on all day. Processions last about two to three hours.
Make sure you take a disposable cup with you so that you don’t miss out on all the free wine that flows. On that note, it’s normally best to take the bus to romerias so that you can really let your hair down. Be prepared for a lively atmosphere and for crowds, and to get stuck in!
There’s no point going to one of these events if you’re going to stand back and watch. Do what the locals do and eat the food and drink the wine.
Most visitors to Tenerife don’t see this side of the island, but it’s a fantastic way to get a true insight into the colourful, many-layered local culture, whilst having plenty of fun into the bargain.