If you want to explore La Gomera, you have to experience the festivals in La Gomera.
There are many reasons to travel, almost as many as there are ways to get to know a culture or a place better.
The festivities are one of them.
Few things (perhaps gastronomy or religious traditions) tell us more about a place than the traditional or not so traditional, festivities of the area.
You will already know that in the Canary Islands there is no shortage of the most varied celebrations.
Sometimes there are very similar festivals in different islands and sometimes we can find really unique and special festivities. And which are the festivals in La Gomera?
On the Columbian island, where some of the most unique Canarian traditions exist, you will find the most typical elements of the traditional
Canarian festive idiosyncrasy.
In addition, some of these festivals are full of the charm that has enabled them to continue for centuries and remain forever in the hearts of those who experience them.
What are the festivals like in La Gomera?
In general, the festivals in La Gomera are popular pilgrimages associated with the patron saints of each locality: San Sebastián, San Isidro, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Virgin of Carmen, SantaClara…
They are dominated by traditional acts, from masses and processions to traditional dances, with instruments and costumes.
There are also the key elements of every traditional Canarian festival.
For example, the blessed bouquets, pre-Hispanic religious features, or the descents of the saints (because in the Canary Islands the place where any pilgrimage does not involve lowering the image is rare; orography rules).
Although there are special cases, such as the pilgrimage of San Roque in Tapahuga, which is done on the beach…
NOT TO BE MISSED: If you like quasi ethnographic celebrations, don’t miss the music of the Paso festivities (Alajeró, mid-September) or the Ofrenda del Ramo de San Salvador (Arure, mid-August).
Celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe
The festivals in San Sebastian, the capital of the island, stands out among all the festivals in La Gomera. The patron saint festivals of the Virgin of Guadalupe are the most popular.
They are celebrated in October and consist of a pilgrimage and a procession where the drums and chacaras set the rhythm. The traditional dresses add a touch of colour.
The statue is a 16th century Flemish carving found on La Cueva beach by sailors from Extremadura.
After trying unsuccessfully to transfer it to his boat, it would become the patron saint of the island; the first Count of La Gomera, Guillén Peraza, ordered it to be placed in the hermitage it now occupies.
The highlight is La Bajada, the transfer by boat of the statue of the Virgin, affectionately known by everyone as La Morenita, from the hermitage of Puntallana to the church of the Assumption of San Sebastián.
It is a very special event, because it is also celebrated only every five years (hence the nickname “lustrales” that the festivities have).
The next one will be in 2023.
San Sebastian Carnival
When talking about parties in the Canary Islands, a carnival is a must.
It is one of the festivities of San Sebastian par excellence, which without being as spectacular as that of the largest Canary Islands, has a great charm.
It is celebrated, of course, in February, with a variable date depending on Easter.
There are costumes, parades, street bands and the queen of the festivals, of course, but there is more: in San Sebastian, talcum powder is the protagonist.
The carnival goers run through the streets throwing handfuls of talcum powder at each other uncompromisingly. You can imagine how much fun it is, and not just for the little ones!
The carnival of San Sebastián and all those of La Gomera (because each town has its own, of course) stand out for the great popular participation of the locals.
They make these festivities their own and where the presence of visitors and tourists is much smaller than in Tenerife or Gran Canaria.
The Bonfires of San Marcos
One of the festivals with more personality and the most spectacular of the island are those that are celebrated in Agulo on the night of April 24: the Bonfires of San Marcos.
On the eve of the big day numerous bonfires are lit in the town, always using the fragrant juniper wood and numerous inhabitants of the
village jump over them as the celebrations follow the sound of the tajaraste.
The origin of this celebration, which some consider pre-Hispanic and for others commemorates the great landslide that occurred in Agulo in 1770, is not clear.
In any case, both the cutting of the firewood and the preparation of the bonfires (and, of course, the jumps) are practically ceremonial moments,
very special for the participants.
These festivities stand out among the popular festivals in La Gomera due to their unique characteristics, their spectacular nature and the intensity with which they are celebrated.
The Holy Kings
In Valle Gran Rey, the patrons are the magi, so a pilgrimage in their honour at the beginning of January cannot be missing.
It is a festival in La Gomera in which the bouquet with capital letters is the protagonist.
A sugar cane adorned with sweets, fruits and flowers, with obvious reminiscences of fertility offerings that are lost in the night of time…
More recently, but equally interesting, is the rivalry that was forged throughout the last century between the inhabitants of Valle Alto and Valle Abajo to see who organized the best festival, since the responsibility belonged each year to one of them.
For the rest, a popular book festival, with its verbena, its descent, its folkloric dances and its collective snacks.
Oh and with their premium Latin music, because the Indian presence was strong, and with them came the Cuban dot, the Mexican mariachis, in short…
Any lover of the most popular jarana will know how to appreciate the festivals in La Gomera as they should be. If you have any questions or remarks, please contact us.