La Gomera is a vibrant island with rich natural beauty, colourful and delicious cuisine, and plenty of reasons to celebrate throughout the year. The Spanish people put a big emphasis on spending time with family and partaking in cultural traditions, something which can be seen and felt on the Canary Islands too. There are many festivals and celebrations that take place annually, some tied to religious occasions and others aimed at simply having fun. Here are some of the most eagerly anticipated fiestas, feasts and festivities.
Although the children of La Gomera receive a few presents at Christmas, it is the Epiphany celebrations in January that take centre stage during the festive period. On the 5th, the three kings (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar) parade through the various towns on the island, throwing sweets and creating merriment wherever they go.
They are often joined by popular children’s characters from TV and film, before leading the procession towards the church for a traditional service. Afterwards, the three kings are given a special key which allows them access to every house in the town and the kids take in turns to ask them for gifts. The next day, the children awake to find wonderful presents left by the kings.
In the build up to Lent, Carnival season grips La Gomera and the other Canary Islands. Each town and village on the island will decide upon a theme and then a parade will take place featuring colourful floats and elaborate costumes. The festivities usually last for a couple of weeks, during which all order is subverted and everyone is encouraged to let their hair down.
In the capital of La Gomera, San Sebastián, the ‘carnival of talcum powder’ is a popular event, during which people cover each other and the streets in white. Another popular addition to Carnival season is the satirical choir who sing about events in the news and make everyone laugh. The festival is usually brought to an end by ‘the burial of the sardine’. A mock funeral procession is carried out and an effigy of a fish is paraded through town. It is then burnt to symbolise society being reborn and to mark a return to the status quo.
This particular festival is predominantly held in the town of Agulo, on the northern coast of La Gomera. It celebrates the local patron saint and features many Pagan rituals. The highlight of the event is on the 24th when young men attempt to prove their strength and bravery to San Marcos by leaping over bonfires.
Every July, coastal towns all over La Gomera hold celebrations to honour ‘Nuestra Senora del Carmen’ – the patron saint of fishermen. Processions are held on land and at sea, fishermen who have lost their lives are remembered and Carmen is thanked for another year of bountiful seas. The five-day fiesta also features lots of music, dancing and fireworks. Sport plays a key part too, with beach football matches and even table football competitions held.
The largest and most rapturous celebrations on La Gomera are reserved for every fifth year. This is the most important festival for all Gomerans and the whole island stops to pay their respects to the Virgin des Las Guadalupe. A statue of the Virgin is carried from her chapel on the east coast, on the shoulders of the crowd, through every community. Each street is decorated with bright colours and people welcome the statue with a party atmosphere. At the end of the festival, the statue is carried back to the chapel, where she will watch over the fortunes of the island for another five years.
This event is so big that people who no longer live on La Gomera return to their former home to celebrate with family and friends. All generations take part in the activities, which last for many weeks, and this is a great time to see La Gomera at its best. The next Bajada de la Virgen will take place in 2018.
Festivals can be a great way to learn about the local culture and tradition. If there is a celebration happening during your time on the island, it is definitely worth seeing how you can get involved. If you would like to book a relaxing stay at the Hotel Jardín Tecina this summer, speak to a member of our team on 0800 035 0704.
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