Virgen del Carmen the fishermen’s friend

Culture is part of the identity of a place, and nowhere more so than Tenerife. Almost on a weekly basis you will find somewhere on the island, festivals and pilgrimages, bustling with cheerful people and activities that enrich your days, making them more fruitful and memorable.

So it is in the tourist resort of Los Cristianos, times may change, but one thing is constant, on the first Sunday of September the “Virgen del Carmen” the patron saint of fishermen and sailors is honoured.

The fiesta starts to build up at least a week prior to the main day with various activities including sporting competitions, foam parties, dances and a fairground, There is something for everyone.

On the evening of the first Sunday of September after Mass, the image of the Virgin and St. Joseph make their way from the church to the beach. Hundreds of residents and visitors follow the procession.

Once at the harbour, the Bishop of the Diocese blesses them before they are placed on board a brightly decorated boat for a trip around the harbour to Palm Mar. Dozens of boats all sounding their sirens accompany the Virgin.

On the return from their short voyage there are prayers and singing at an alter set up by the old pier and the formal part of the celebration ends with a fireworks display across the bay.

When the fireworks finish that is when the real party starts. The Canary music is changed to a mixture of Spanish and English pop. Along with local people, holiday-makers and tourists, enjoy the Fiesta del Carmen.  They may not understand the religious sub-text but they enjoy the warm and friendly atmosphere provided by one of the most unique and beautiful events in the south of Tenerife.

This year’s programme of events is HERE

Few people know that in 2005 a stone statue of the Virgin was submerged in the bay of Los Cristianos. The sculpture made from local stone is about 1.5m and weighs around 700kg and  is by Juan Carlos Martin.  It was lowered 40m into the sea near a point known as Cueva Juanito and it is there to keep those who pass over her in their sailing vessels safe. There is also a small replica on the esplanade to the side of the old pier.

Virgen del Carmen, located in the port Los Cristianos, Arona. Sculpture by Juan Carlos Martin – image art discover

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