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If you are in Tenerife anywhere from April to September, you will definitely have to visit one of the countless Romerias that take place every year in these summer months. Since you are reading this article, we’re assuming you’ve either already heard of this magical event and are wondering what it’s all about, or you just love the idea of festivals of food and wine and are open to new cultures and old traditions. In both cases, this article is for you.
First, let’s have a look at the background of those festivals to understand their origin, before getting you prepared for your very first visit to a traditional Romeria with these 5 steps that will help you make the most out of your experience.
A Romeria in its most original sense is a religious pilgrimage. The word “Romeria” comes from “romero”, meaning those travelling towards Rome. It is a catholic celebration that indicates a peregrination of some sort, though it doesn’t always have to be a trip. In the case of Tenerife, it’s a celebration in honour of a Saint who helped the town, and he’s celebrated with the harvest.
In short, a Romeria in Tenerife is a traditional and religious harvest festival.
Every traditional town in Tenerife has its own Romeria once a year, honouring one specific Saint. The one in Tegueste honours San Marcos, the celebrations in Los Realejos take place in honour of St Isidro Labrador, Garachico pays tribute to San Roque, and St. Benedict is honoured by the Romeria of La Laguna – to name a few examples.
The Romerias in the North are typically a lot bigger than those in the South. The one in Tegueste at the end of April is always the first event of the year, which normally results in it having the most visitors because all the locals can hardly wait for the Romeria season to start.
Los Realejos and La Orotava are a very good example of a traditional spanish fiesta – the positive atmosphere and lighthearted way of life is to be felt everywhere.
Tacoronte and La Laguna are also the bigger celebrations and are definitely worth the visit.
And then there is Garachico – famous for the stunning and over-the-top decorations of their carts and the energy that comes with this traditional event – which is the highlight of the Romeria season to many people and anyone who has the chance to go should take it.
The “Baile de Magos” is another traditional event that usually takes place the Sunday before the Romeria in each town. It is a dance event with traditional music, people dressed in the traditional costumes and dancing traditional dances. If you are out for that cultural experience, these pre-events of the Romerias might be interesting to you.
To tell the truth- you can’t. At least, not mentally. Even if we tell you everything you can expect on your first visit in this article, you will still be mind-blown once you get there. The atmosphere is incredible and it is truly something that you have never experienced before. But we can give you an idea of what you should be looking forward to and what to bring with you to make this special event unforgettable.
Most of the people going to the Romeria you select will be wearing traditional clothing. It is a harvest festival, so everybody wears what the farmers used to wear. Note that each town has its own traditional costume, differing slightly in colours. But no worries, they will still let you in if you are wearing the costume of a different town, or even no costume at all. Most locals have their own costume and they’ll wear it to every Romeria they attend, proudly representing the town they are from. If you want to have the full experience and show up in traditional clothing, you can rent the costume of your choice from one of the local stores in each town.
For example, there’s a store down in Puerto de la Cruz where you can get the woman’s costume for as low as 16€, and for men it’s only 14€.
Calle Teobaldo Power 30, Puerto de la Cruz Canarias, España
If you are lost putting on the traditional fajin that men usually wear, watch this video:
But even if you choose to show up in your own clothes, you will still be included in the festivities, and there will still be lots of wine for you.
Talking about Wine – there will be a lot of that. Being a harvest festival, food and wine are a big part of any Romeria. During the procession which is the main part of this religious festival, there will be a huge parade going on. Beautifully decorated carts, dancers, musicians and even a couple of bulls make their way through town, passing by the countless visitors waiting on both sides of their path. And there’s a good reason for why they are waiting for the parade to pass, other than to just watch it.
The folks on the carts are giving away free food. And when we say food, we mean popcorn, hardboiled eggs, potatoes and bread as well as barbecued steaks! No joke, some of the self-built wooden carts have barbecuers on them and, trust us, they know what they’re doing with that meat. Of course, the hot and juicy goods that come directly from the barbecuer are the most wanted ones, so don’t go there on an empty stomach, expecting to be fed ounces and ounces of meat. But do get in the crowd, stick out your hands and see what you can get. It’s a fun experience.
Another reason why you shouldn’t go to your first Romeria on an empty stomach is because of the amount of wine you’ll be drinking. Aside from the food, the people on the carts also hand out free wine. Which brings us to the most important preparation step you can take when attending a Romeria – buy a Vaso de Romeria.
It’s a small glass in a leather case with a string on it to hang around your neck. You’ll be wearing your wine glass as a necklace. How genius is that?
You can either get these glasses ahead of time in various local stores, or buy them directly at the Romeria at one of the stands. These stands, by the way, also offer you an endless variety of souvenirs, drinks and food, in case you are craving something other than wine and aren’t completely satisfied from the free food that was given out at the parade. Fact is, you will be neither hungry nor thirsty.
You might think that too much free wine could cause a disaster in terms of the amounts of people that you will meet there. And while big crowds of drunk people might be problematic in most situations, let us assure you that this is not the case at Romerias. The people don’t go there to get drunk. They go to celebrate an old tradition together with their entire family. You will be surrounded by light-hearted people of all ages, having a good time. They’ll be smiling, laughing, singing, dancing and that’s about it. In our eyes, there’s no safer festival to attend than one of the Romerias. The people there are all kind and friendly, they’ll welcome you to experience this piece of tradition and culture with them and all they want is for everybody to have a good time. If you don’t believe it, remember that some of them are giving away free barbecue steak. That speaks for itself. 😉
As mentioned, the main procession consists of the parade going through town. This will probably last for 2-3 hours. Make sure to not just act as a spectator from far away. Go get in the crowd and wait for the bulls, the carts, the food to pass you and get up close to the happenings. You won’t regret it. After the parade, the party begins. Filled up and satisfied, the people stay in the streets to talk, laugh and dance – just to celebrate. In most cases, there’s at least one stage with live music where you will find the largest crowd. The stands stay open until the party ends, and when the party ends is up to the people. It’s a typical spanish fiesta by all means.
Now that you know all the beautiful things that will be awaiting you at a Romeria in Tenerife, you probably want to know how to get there. As you have probably gotten out of this article, there will be wine. So don’t drink and drive. There are usually plenty of options to go by bus. The local Titsa bus even schedules extra trips to take people to the Romerias.
So let’s say you are staying in Puerto de la Cruz and want to go to the Romeria in Tegueste. There will be a flow of 2-5 busses departing from Puerto de la Cruz in the morning at different times. Just take your pick. Same thing when you’re going back. Return to where the bus dropped you off in the morning and catch one of the busses going back to your town at night or in the early morning hours. Just ask anybody from the Titsa Bus for when the last bus will be leaving.
If you choose to take one of these busses especially scheduled for the Romeria, you will have to book tickets in advance. We recommend you to do that, as the normal busses will be packed and will take longer as they’re stopping at every bus stop.
If you can find a designated driver amongst your group, be prepared to park your car 2-3 kilometers out of town and go on a rather long walk. As soon as you see cars parked on the side of the roads where they are probably not supposed to, you know you are there. Find a spot and walk the rest of the way, because nobody leaves a Romeria early anyway.
Now that you know everything you need to be prepared for your first Romeria, check the dates to see which one will take place while you’re here and enjoy the full experience. Be part of this beautiful canarian tradition and take it all in.