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Tenerife at Christmas

Christmas in Tenerife is characterised by the mild climate and the lively, festive street atmosphere in all corners of the island. Cities like La Laguna and Santa Cruz are decked out in colourful poinsettias and Christmas decorations, endowing the streets with a special flamboyance. A host of cultural activities are scheduled for the season, including concerts, exhibitions, theatre plays, traditional celebrations, crib displays, craft fairs, etc. Among the standout events is the Christmas concert on 25 December at Puerto de Santa Cruz, performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of Tenerife. As is to be expected, the festive season also features a host of activities for the little ones, notably the Parque Infantil de Tenerife (Tenerife Children’s Park). To round off the experience, make a point of trying the traditional confectionery on sale at this time of year. Here are some of the features that make this season one of the year’s most engaging in Tenerife.

Activities for Children

Youngsters have a range of activities to choose from at Christmas time, but the one everyone waits for with baited breath is the PIT (Parque Infantil y Juvenil de Tenerife) (Tenerife Children’s and Juvenile Park), a genuine amusement park which is hosted in The Tenerife International Centre for Trade Fairs and Congresses from mid-December until the beginning of January.

The PIT first opened in 1989 and has staged innovative and extremely entertaining activities ever since. It is usually divided into forty-five entertainment and game areas where a team of 200 people chaperone visitors every day. Dozens of activities are hosted in this park, all of them designed for children or youngsters, although families will also find places where they can have a great time.

Another of our proposals is located in Puerto de la Cruz, specifically in the church of Peña de Francia, where the Children’s and Juvenile Choral Assembly is organised by the Reyes Bartlet Choir around this time each year.

And, lastly, in the south of Tenerife, in one of Spain’s most cutting-edge buildings, the Magma Arte & Congresos on the Costa Adeje, you can have a great time on the skating rink – 720 square metres of a 5-star ice rink where you feel as if you were opposite the Rockefeller Center in New York, the Natural History Museum of London or the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. A unique attraction for all the family which you should make a point of visiting. Take note!

Customs and Traditions

Needless to say, Christmas in Tenerife is charged with customs and tradition, involving theatre plays, masses, parades, etc. Many of the events that are held here have been celebrated year after year for centuries.

The misas de la luz (light masses) are one of the most popular religious events in the Canary Islands. They date from 1768, according to the last will and testament of the nobleman, Alonso de Medina. Running from 16 to 25 December, they are held at various points in the archipelago. Hundreds of people in the congregation gather just before six in the morning, when mass is due to start, and sing Christmas carols at the church entrances. One of the most exciting moments occurs on 23 December, when the retinue files through the towns and villages and takes part in communal singing and dancing.

Another long-standing tradition on the island is Christmas crib-making. A profusion of highly original cribs are displayed in numerous public and private buildings around Tenerife. Among the most famous of them is the one in the headquarters of CajaCanarias, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, or the one hosted at El Cabildo, also in the island’s capital, in addition to those exhibited in town halls and other public buildings.

Christmas Confectionery

The islands boast a huge variety of sweets and at Christmas the vast array of confectionery focuses on more specialised offerings. Homemade Christmas candies can be savoured in numerous corners of the archipelago and the most popular ingredients are millo (corn), almonds, honey and fruit.

One of the most typical Christmas candies on the island are the so-called truchas, although they can be found all year around. They consist of patties filled with sweet potato, angel’s hair pumpkin and, sometimes, custard. Their preparation is straightforward and they are usually made in all homes.

Get going and enjoy a Christmas getaway to Tenerife – book your Vueling here.

Text and photos by Turismo Tenerife

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From the Heart of Tenerife

Tenerife as a destination has options for a variety of holidays in an enviable climate. Its 22°C mean annual temperature, which virtually blurs the borderline between summer and winter, is one of its major assets, but not its only one. Another is its scenery and natural surroundings, ranging from dense laurel forest (similar to the vegetation that covered Europe in the Tertiary Age, some 20 million years ago) to beaches, coves, charcos (natural pools) and – why not? – the Teide National Park.

Tenerife No Limits – Land Sports

Healthy lifestyles have caught on in recent times and Tenerife has acquired added value as a holiday resort also offering outdoor sport and activities. Indeed, Tenerife is practically one huge outdoor gym, open 365 days a year. Its climate, landscapes and natural setting makes it a veritable paradise for both professional and amateur sportspeople. In hardly half an hour you can go from working out at sea level to doing so at an altitude of 2,000 metres. Following is a rundown of some of the many possibilities for doing land sports and other activities in natural surroundings, apart from those in the sea or air:

Hiking. The island boasts some 1,500 kilometres of walking trails, both official ones and those pending approval. They traverse Tenerife’s 43 protected natural spaces, accounting for almost half (48%) the island’s surface area. Each trail is unique, distinct from the next. One of the most striking is the Gran Recorrido 131 (part of the E-7 long-distance footpath), which comes from the European continent and crosses the island from north to south, a route stretching 83 kilometres that runs through all kinds of landscape, including Mt Teide.

Caving. The island features Europe’s largest volcanic pipe, known as the Wind Cave. It is 27,000 years old and 17 kilometres long, if we add up the tunnels at all levels. The tour lasts about two hours and immerses the visitor in a fascinating, dark and mysterious realm.

Climbing. Tenerife is also a paradise for rock climbers, with its myriad volcanic rock faces to be scaled. There are options for everyone, from beginners to experts.

Mountain biking. Lovers of this sport can enjoy some 200 kilometres of bike trails crossing the island. Most of these paths run across the heights of Tenerife, but set primarily in the Corona Forestal Nature Park. This is a comprehensive network of trails, many of which have parking areas, transport and services at their start and finish.

Cycling. The island is covered by a broad road network in very good condition. Many of the roads go though areas with little traffic, well suited to cycling. You can cycle at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres, at the foot of Mt Teide, or at sea level. Hundreds of world-class cyclists come to Tenerife to train for such races as the Tour de France, the world championships and even the Olympic Games.

Tennis and paddle tennis. Over eleven sports complexes are available to enthusiasts of the racket and paddle on all types of surface – clay court, Plexicushion and synthetic. There are also ample facilities for playing pelota and squash.

Golf. Eight top-notch golf courses, designed by golfers of the calibre of Severiano Ballesteros and Dave Thomas, make this island one of the destinations to seriously consider for playing this sport.

Accessible sport. Here, too, there are facilities for playing accessible sport. The island is one of the training centres for local, national and international Paralympics, featuring such complexes as Tenerife Top Training.

If you’d like further information on all these sports and activities, or on accommodation and specialised schools and companies, check out the offerings at Tenerife No Limits.

And, to discover the island first-hand, you have to see it for yourself. Check out our flights here.

Text and images by Turismo de Tenerife

 

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To the Carnival Beat in Tenerife

No question about it – there is one time in the year when Santa Cruz de Tenerife comes alive, and that is at Carnival time. It is world famous, extremely popular and one of the biggest on earth, rivalling Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (it’s twin city) and Venice. Tourists, sightseers and fun lovers who head for this spot in the Canary Island archipelago end up hopelessly drawn in by the beat, the dazzle and the colour of this splendid fiesta. Lasting for a month, it features a host of activities showcasing mainly music and fancy dress.

This time around, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife lasts from 1 February to 5 March. As in previous years, thousands of people in fancy dress roam the streets, eager to fall under the spell of Carnival magic. The festivities are hosted by over a hundred groups of around fifty people each, compering murgas (ensembles singing to satirical lyrics), comparsas (dancing carnival troupes), fancy dress groups, rondallas (street bands) and musical troupes – quite a feat! Take note of the following rundown of the highlights of the Tenerife Carnival for your requisite getaway.

The Carnival Queen

One of the loveliest moments in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the Gran Gala, at which the Carnival Queen is elected. Beholding the spectacular costumes studded with rhinestones, glittering ornaments and elegant feathers is a magical experience. Amazingly, those costumes can weigh up to between 150 and 200 kilos and have to be transported on wheels. A stunning, must-see extravaganza!

The Opening Horse Parade

As its name suggests, this event marks the start of Carnival and what better way to get the ball rolling? In style, with a spectacular horse parade at which all the Carnival troupes march past, including the queens and maids of honour, who ride in carriages escorted by the troupes. Four hours of rhythmic percussion and Latin beat which extend well into the night.

Carnival Saturday

Another date to jot down on your Carnival agenda is Carnival Saturday, when the streets of the city again become inundated with music and dance. Most of the activity is centred around the Plaza de la Candelaria, the Plaza del Príncipe and the Plaza de Europa.

The Gran Coso Apoteosis

This celebration, the veritable closing ceremony of Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is possibly one of the most exciting moments in the festivities. It is the day all the carnival troupes, carriages, floats and queens parade along the Avenida de Anaga, marking the grand finale of Carnival proceedings.

Ash Wednesday

Like any Carnival worth its salt, the arrival of Lent is heralded by the “burial of the sardine”. The event takes place in the main city streets, suitably draped in mourning, with balconies sporting black ribbons. A giant sardine is paraded through the streets, before being ceremoniously burned at the end of its itinerary. The Tinerfeños or inhabitants of Tenerife bid farewell to Carnival by staging their sorrow in the form of a lament, although they also mark the occasion in comical satire and by lampooning the Church. So, don’t be surprised if, while wandering through the streets, you come across people dressed up mostly as priests, bishops or monks carrying sexual props of all kinds.

Book your Vueling to Tenerife, don your fancy dress and get into festive mood as you attend one of the most popular Carnivals in the world.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Image by Philippe Teuwen

 

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The 10 Linchpins of Tenerife

We were blown away by the island of Tenerife, which has countless charming spots. Among other things, it boasts a stunning volcano, magical laurel forests, buildings revealing impossible architectural feats and the dizzy heights of cliffs plummeting into the sea. These are the essential spots in Tenerife, the things you simply cannot pass up and which make up the very essence of the island. Here, then, is a selection of Tenerife’s top ten. Do you know any of them?

1. Teide National Park

This is undoubtedly the island’s most iconic landmark. The Teide National Park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007 in the category of Natural Properties. It was also awarded the European Diploma by the Council of Europe and is part of the Natura 2000 Network. Indeed, there is no dearth of reasons for earning such accolades. First, Tenerife boasts the most comprehensive supra-Mediterranean vegetation on earth. It also features one of the most stunning volcanic landscapes in the world and, of course, the most prominent one in the Canary Islands. Further information here.

2. Historic Quarters

Tenerife boasts a large number of historic sites. First, there is La Laguna Historic Quarter (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999), a unique example of an unwalled colonial settlement. The original, 15th-century layout – as pinpointed by the engineer, Leonardo Torriani, on his map of La Laguna – has survived virtually intact. This is a must-visit town as it served as the blueprint for colonial cities in the Americas, notably Old Havana, Lima and Cartagena de Indias, characterised by the same aesthetic in their streets and houses. Other must-visit venues include the Arona Historic Quarter, the Buenavista del Norte Historic Quarter, and the historic quarters of Garachico, Guía de Isora, Güímar, Icod de los Vinos, La Orotova, Los Realejos, Los Silos, Puerto de la Cruz and San Juan de la Rambla. Further details here.

3. Anaga Rural Park

Just a few minutes’ drive from the capital (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) lies the Anaga Rural Park, listed as a Biosphere Reserve, with its exceptionally well preserved natural assets. You would not be the first visitor to be awed by its beautiful, rugged range of sharp peaks. And, its deep valleys and gorges run down to the sea and fan out in the form of numerous beaches where you can have a refreshing swim. The area is also rich in indigenous fauna and flora.

4. Whale Spotting

The island’s south-west coast is ideal for whale spotting. There, you will see the whales drifting calmly along in the ocean. Whale encounters are an exciting experience and you will get the chance to photograph them close-up. Tenerife has several companies that organise excursions to see these cetaceans in the wild but, be warned – you should look out for pleasure boats with the “Barco Azul” (Blue Boat) ensign, as they are the only ones authorised by the Canary Island government to run these outings. You should heed this warning for safety purposes – both for your own safety and that of the whales – as these vessels are certified as complying with the standards designed to safeguard these species. The boats sail from the ports of Los Cristianos, Puerto Colón and Los Gigantes and you can choose from an array of prices and travel times to best suit your needs. Further information here.

5. Parque del Drago

Located next to the San Marcos parish church, the parque del Drago (Dragon Park) is the main attraction in Icod de Los Vinos. Its famous Drago Milenario (millennial dragon tree), although officially only 800 years old, is one of the leading natural, cultural and historic symbols of the Canary Islands. The Icod dragon tree (Dracaena draco canariensis),considered to be the oldest in the archipelago, is 16 metres high and has a circumference of 20 metres at its base. A garden of indigenous species has been created around the tree. Particularly edifying and illustrative for visitors, the garden also features smaller dragon trees, cactus spurge and sweet spurge, etc. The nearby church square also has some interesting botanical specimens.

6. Teno Rural Park

The Teno Rural Park is located at the north-western tip of Tenerife and stretches across parts of the Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos, El Tanque and Santiago del Teide municipalities. With a surface area of 8,063.3 hectares, it is one of the island’s most beautiful nature parks. Its ecological, cultural and landscape value has been preserved largely on account of its remoteness. The scenic variety is striking, ranging from stunning cliffs to valleys, low islands, laurel forests and magnificent examples of traditional architecture.

7. Huge Cliffs

This cliff, aptly named Los Gigantes (the Giants), is situated in Santiago del Teide and is part of the Teno Rural Park. At some points it towers 600 metres above the sea and the cliff-face is sheer, capable of making you giddy if you look at it from the bottom. The seabed at the foot of the cliff, some 30 metres deep, is home to a great variety of natural species, attracting enthusiasts of diving and deep-sea fishing.

8. Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

At the end of the 14th century – that is, about a hundred years before the conquest of Tenerife – a Gothic carving of Our Lady of Candelaria turned up on the coast of the Güímar Valley. The local Guanche people worshipped the statue under the name Chaxiraxi. Designed by Enrique Marrero Regalado, the basilica was built in 1959 on the initiative of the Bishop of Tenerife, Domingo Pérez Cáceres, a native of Güímar. Regionalist in style, it has three naves, a faux Mudéjar ceiling and a 25-metre-high dome surmounting the transept.

9. Star-Gazing

The Teide National Park is ideal for observing such amazing features of the night-sky as the rings of Saturn, the Moon’s craters and distant galaxies and nebulae. Teide and Cumbres de Teide were recently awarded Starlight certificates, which endorses them as privileged international spots for star-gazing.

Set at 2,400 metres above sea level, the telescopes of the Teide Observatory are managed by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, which bears out the excellent state of night-sky observation on the island. Enthusiasts can book a guided tour in which the innards of those huge devices are described in detail, as are the telescope-observation methods used by scientists the world over. Further details here.

10. Gastronomy and Wine

Island cuisine is another of Tenerife’s identity traits and, of course, the tastiest one. Dishes are based on locally sourced products and make up a cuisine in which tradition blends with the avant-garde. Papas, mojos, gofio, cheese, fish, honey…

Tenerife wines are unique for their original flavour and the sacrifice involved in their making, as the vineyards are often cultivated in remote, narrow stretches of land. These conditions, together with nutrient-rich volcanic soils, endow their wines with features which have been lauded in Europe since the 16th century. There are five DOs in Tenerife – Tacoronte-Acentejo, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Valle de la Orotava, Valle de Güímar and Abona. Each of these areas yields wines with a personality of their own, be they red, white or Malvasia. Further details here.

Itching to discover Tenerife through its greatest hits? Check out our flights here.

Text and images by Turismo de Tenerife

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