It’s the summer solstice today, and so the beginning of the height of summer, and so, too, Tenerife will be pretty much completely on holiday until the end of August. As I posted HERE, the midsummer celebrations in Tenerife focus on St John the Baptist, with fire and fireworks celebrations all over the island this Sunday, 23 June, but over the next two months or so the main series of summer fiestas will honour the Virgen del Carmen – the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel who is the patron saint of fishermen.

Perhaps the biggest celebration is in Puerto de la Cruz where tens of thousands will congregate from 7am on Tuesday 16 July for the famous Embarcación de la Virgen in the old harbour, whereas Los Cristianos’ Virgen del Carmen fiesta is particularly popular in the south. This year’s is 28 August-2 September, and as always it will see a flotilla of boats leave the harbour carrying an icon of the Virgen’s statue … and as they do so they will actually be sailing over the real larger-than-life statue which has stood ar the bottom of the bay since 2005, blessing all the craft that enter and leave the harbour. This procesión marítima will be after the 7pm Mass in the Church Square on Sunday 1st.

The same will take place in most coastal towns and villages at some point during the summer months even if on a smaller scale. The fiesta almost always involves a religious service followed by a ritual procession with the Virgin’s statue being carried to the sea accompanied by musical bands and locals often in traditional dress. It is then loaded into a boat which sails around a harbour or stretch of coastline to bless local fishermen and their catches for the coming year. The event ends with the inevitable fireworks, music, dancing and food – which continue throughout the following three or so days, usually over a long weekend … though some, like Puerto de Santiago’s, last a fortnight!

As well as being the patron saint of fisherman on the coast, the Virgen del Carmen is also revered inland in the mountain villages where she is the patron saint who protects and preserves the fertilility of Tenerife’s volcanic soil and its agricultural productivity. I’ve posted descriptions before now of the utter chaos that can be caused in mountain villages – including my own where our lane is given a personal bomberos truck until the fireworks are over because it’s where they are set alight – along sometimes with the occasional rustic roof depending on wind direction! Before now I’ve seen an unruly Catherine Wheel roll downhill, still alight! There are photos below, all taken by Chuck Urmson, from one such display.

Wherever you watch or participate in any of this year’s Virgen del Carmen fiestas, have a great time!

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