Many know that August is the time when the people of Tenerife honour their patron saint the Virgen de Candelaria. The most famous celebration takes place in the town of Candelaria but few realise the Virgen is also the patron saint of Alcalá a small fishing town in the west of the island.
The folk of Alcala make a big deal about honouring her and spend a massive amount of time throughout the year preparing for the festival. This year the “Fiesta de Agosto” starts the 12th and continues until 17th, it is always give or take a day each end around that time of the month.
Balconies and windows in the town are bedecked with Spanish, Canarian and Tenerife flags, streamers flap overhead and fun events take place each day, but the highlight is always the 15th August.
The day will start with Mass in Alcalá’s cream coloured church. The Virgen will then be paraded through the streets, carried shoulder-high by men wearing black trilbies, crisp white shirts, and trousers with broad silk sashes and the heady scent of frankincense will fill the air.
The procession will end at the harbour where the sun will more than likely be dancing on the hulls of a small convoy of boats, bobbing in the sea, their pennants fluttering on the breeze. (Well it is August and the sun always shines in Tenerife – except last Monday!)
The harbour will reverberate with the traditional beat of rhythmic Latino music. Church bells will echo through the fishing port’s streets, brass bands will play and voices will chant “Viva, Candelaria!” as the townsfolk accompany the Virgen to her awaiting transport. It is a tradition that floral tributes are placed at her feet and newly freed doves will rise up on the sultry sea breeze as her small boat sets sail for the neighbouring towns of Playa de San Juan, Fonsalía, Puerto de Santiago and Los Gigantes accompanied by a flotilla of boats.
Throughout the day, the pyrotechnic specialists from Toste Brothers in Los Realejos will be arranging tubes, sandbags and an arsenal of fireworks into the rocks around the harbour for what will be the best and most popular firework show of the year in Tenerife. Visitors from all corners of the island come to town to admire the display.
It starts at midnight involves hundreds of kilos of explosives and lasts at least half an hour. You can see them working on last year’s display and the crowds bagging a spot to view the procession in the video below.
The next video clip only lasts a few seconds but is probably enough to make you want to join the crowds and party until dawn.