The Canary Islands Music Festival is hosted around Tenerife and Gran Canaria each January and February. 2013 will be the 29th year of the festival. Ever since it began in 1985, it has been counted amongst Europe’s most impressive festivals of classical music. Although each year there is something different, audiences are guaranteed that the finest international orchestras and musicians will be in attendance.
The most important calendar dates in Tenerife (especially in Santa Cruz) are those on which a carnival falls. These usually occur in February and March, and consist of massive processions. Extravagant costumes are the order of the day, as well as street parties that can last for days at a time. February 2 is a bank holiday in Tenerife, as it is the feast day of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candelaria). Many celebrations in Tenerife do not fall on a fixed date, as they are based on religious or lunar calendars – such as Semana Santa and Pascua (Holy Week and Easter). Easter can fall in either March or April. Around Santa Cruz, La Orotava, La Laguna, Puerto de la Cruz and Garachico you cannot travel very far during this time without coming across a celebration.
The Festival of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) is particularly important in La Orotava. To celebrate this June festival, the town square is adorned with sand pictures. The sand used is dyed a variety of bright shades to describe key moments from the bible, and the end result is a kaleidoscope of colours that lines the parade route.
August 14 and 15 are the feast days of the Virgin of Candelaria – the Canary Islands’ patron saint. The celebration is called the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria. Pilgrims come to Candelaria city to give thanks to the saint and form solemn processions.
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November 29 and 30 are the festival days of Saint Andrew (Fiesta de San Andrés). In La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz, there is a longstanding custom whereby the new wine of the season is removed from cellars and sampled. Icod de los Vinos also has its own unique custom; the youth of the town grease wooden sheets, turning them into toboggan. They then career through the sloping streets. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Nochebuena and Navidad) are very important family occasions in Tenerife. The celebratory dinner is held on Nochebuena, followed by a church service at midnight. In some towns and villages on the island, the service is followed by the Dance of the Child (Baile del Niño). People dressed in folk costume dance in front of an effigy of the Christ child. On New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja), again there is a celebratory family gathering, with a feast. Afterwards, there is much open air singing and dancing as the clock counts down to midnight.
2012 will be the 40th year of the Sabandeño Festival. This is a celebration of folk music, held in September in the World Heritage Site of La Laguna. It was originally established by the folk group Los Sabandenos. Now native bands join others from around the world to celebrate the Fiesta of the Santísimo Cristo of La Laguna.