There is an assumption that to see the ‘real’ Tenerife visitors have to go north, but not so. January kicks off with several Romerias the first of which is the Feast of San Antonio Abad and anyone staying in Los Cristianos or Playa de las Americas is less than twenty minutes from the happenings, which take place in the narrow streets of Arona.
Tradition is strong in Arona so celebrating is a serious business. The first celebration of the year, the Feast of San Antonio Abad is a rather grand affair. This year it runs from Thursday January 12th to Tuesday, January 17th with a week of events.
There is transport that will take you to the pilgrimage which is on Sunday 15th and that leaves from the Infanta Leonor Auditorium in Los Cristianos and from in front of the Hotel Central Zenter at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00. It returns 16:00, 17:00 and 18:00. If you can it is probably best to use this as parking is almost impossible. At any of these events, as soon as you see others park, grab your space then follow the trail of animal droppings. That’s what I said animal droppings because San Antonio Abad is patron saint of animals and you will find more goats, horses, pigs, ferrets and family pets than you can shake a stick at.
Many of the animals are dressed for the occasion with ribbons and hats. Their owners have brought them to receive the saints blessing but in all honesty, the animals look suitable unimpressed.
Residents wearing traditional dress and riding in beautifully decorated wooden carts pulled by oxen accompany the patron saint in a procession through the streets of the town and end up in the plaza also suitably bedecked in bunting.
Food plays an important role in these celebrations, which the local people are proud to share with visitors by tossing Canarian potatoes and eggs from the wagons into the thronging crowd. There is lots of singing and dancing to popular Canarian songs played by local folk groups, accompanied by a good supply of beer and wine.
Most towns and villages on the island hold a “Romería”, it sometimes feels these are on a weekly basis. Before the end of the month, San Sebastian, the patron saint of Adeje, will be the excuse for throwing another party. If you are in Tenerife, I recommend popping along to an event, ANY event will be great fun. Simply, they are an opportunity to experience Tenerife at its best.