Summer is fiesta or romeria season in Gran Canaria and the island hosts some whacky events. From a huge water fight in the mountains to a fishing contest in a lagoon, here are the island’s biggest and most fascinating fiestas.
Fiestas del Carmen
Fishing villages all over the island celebrate the Fiestas del Carmen but the biggest fiesta is in Arguineguín and Mogán. The celebrations last a week but the main event is a boat procession between the harbours.
Every year the Virgin Mary Icon in Arguineguin town takes a sea voyage and is reunited with her twin at Puerto Mogan. She is accompanied by hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes from ferries to little fishing caiques. It’s the biggest fiesta in the south of Gran Canaria along with the Maspalomas carnival.
To bag a place on the boats head down to the Puerto Rico, Mogán or Arguineguín marinas and talk to the ferry lines that run along the south coast.
The Fiestas del Carmen happen in mid-July.
The Lomo Magullo traida de agua or water carrying fiesta is all about splashing and getting splashed. Thousands of people carry water in procession through the municipality before using it for a huge water fight.
Lomo Magullo is great fun but it’s not the place for cameras and mobile phones. Take a spare set of clothes in a plastic bag as tourists are rare at local events and you’ll get plenty of good-natured attention.
The Traida del Agua happens on August 11.
A sea of people fills the steep lanes of Agaete town, dotted with huge papaguevo figures with papier mache heads. Everybody carries fresh green branches brought down from the mountains. By the end of the day the procession reaches the sea at Puerto de las Nieves. The crowds beat the sea with the branches to encourage the rain.
The La Rama tradition is one of the oldest in the Canary Islands. It dates back over 1000 years to pre-Hispanic times. The island’s original inhabitants, known as the guanches or the Canarii, worshipped mother nature and their high priestesses used to beat the sea in times of drought.
This year almost 70,000 people came to La Rama in Agaete town in the north west of Gran Canaria. The La Rama procession winding through Agaete’s white houses is unmissable if you are in Gran Canaria August 4.
Fiesta del Charco
La Aldea de San Nicolas’ annual fiesta is another one that dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The main event is a mad dash into a lagoon: Thousands of people race to catch as many fish as possible with the winner becoming king for the day.
Many people hit the lagoon in full traditional dress: This is because the island’s bishop once said it was sinful to run into the water topless.
If you want to take part here’s a tip: Take a bucket or basket to scoop up fish, or use your t-shirt as a net.
The Fiesta del Charco is on September 11 every year.
“Bioagaete Cultural Solidario” is the newest fiesta in Gran Canaria; it only started a few years ago. However, it has now grown into the island’s biggest and best music festival. Stages are dotted all around Puerto de Las Nieves (Agaete) and there are activities for kids and adults.
Local and Canarian bands provide the music and the whole show is run by volunteers from the area. For a fun day out with great music head over to the north west in late August.