A Family Christmas under the Lanzarote Sun
There are trips that stay in your heart long after your return, and that’s the case of Lanzarote at Christmas.
The island’s atmosphere at this time of year is unique due to its history of keeping traditions alive and its spring-like climate that allows visitors to enjoy concerts, markets and gastronomic evenings in the open air. If you’re planning to share the Christmas celebrations with your family, below we suggest six activities that will make your holiday unforgettable.
I know, I know, street markets are a universal Christmas classic, but Lanzarote’s markets have an authenticity that makes them special. This year you can buy all your Christmas gifts on the island and surprise recipients with an item of local craftsmanship: leather goods, baskets, jewellery, embroidery, ceramics, local gourmet products and even works of art. You can choose between the Sunday market in Teguise, one of the largest in Europe, or the Christmas markets that are held at this time of year in all the municipalities. If you choose to visit the inland villages, take the opportunity to visit the Tanit Ethnographic Museum in San Bartolomé and the aloe vera interpretation centres in Yaiza and Haría. Arrecife and Tías also have a wide range of shops. A good way to end a day’s shopping in the Open Mall or Biosfera Plaza is to treat yourself to a snack at Charco de San Ginés, or on a beachfront terrace in Puerto del Carmen.
These dates are also great for spending time with the family and cultivating traditions. In Lanzarote we have one that has been passed down from generation to generation: the ranchos de Pascua, a musical format that dates back to the 16th century. If you want to experience them, we recommend that attending the ranchos de Pascua gathering held on 23rd December in the Church of San Roque in Tinajo. The experience is sure to leave you wanting to delve deeper into Lanzarote’s folk culture, but don’t worry because the parrandas, corales, ranchos, bandas and other island folk groups participate in the Navidad Isleña programme every year, another essential feature of the festivities. These concerts, which are open to the general public, will also give you the chance to hear the island’s great voices.
A tour of the Nativity Scenes
Admit it, at this time of year your inner child wakes up and takes notice. If the rest of the year leaves no time for much excitement, at Christmas you have time to spare. And what’s more, you’re on holiday in Lanzarote. There’s no excuse for not taking a tour of the island’s nativity scenes, which becomes a journey through local history and ethnography. We suggest four stops on our particular circuit.
Your tour starts in Haría, the valley of a thousand palm trees, which hosts its nativity scene just a stone’s throw from the church and the square where the Saturday craft market is held. The atmosphere in this northern corner of the island is particularly hospitable.
Next, visit the neighbouring municipality of Tinajo, where the nativity scene comes to life in a performance by locals which, this year, will take place on 25th December at 7 p.m.
The third stop is Yaiza, which has one of the most popular nativity scenes, a genuine work of art that reproduces traditional landmarks and trades to scale. Its mountains, lapilli, churches and typical constructions have made it a Christmas must-see.
But your nativity scene tour has surprises in store in almost every municipality on the island. Some places have original nativity scenes made of sand. Visit them if you pass by the Playa del Reducto beach in Arrecife or Las Cucharas beach in Costa Teguise. In Puerto del Carmen, the nativity scene is integrated into the secluded dry dock, in the seafaring corner of La Tiñosa.
The privileged climate of the island means outdoor activities can be enjoyed all year round, and at Christmas people usually participate in one of the many events that at this time of year turn into a celebration. A good idea for the evening of Christmas Eve is the Haría Music Race Night. No matter your fitness level, everyone is welcome at this race which goes through the fishing villages of Arrieta and Punta Mujeres and ends with a dip in the sea at La Garita beach and a music show. If marathon running is your thing, why not sign up for Arrecife’s traditional San Silvestre on December 31st? There are categories for all ages, making it especially attractive if you’re travelling with younger people. Join one of these popular activities and you’ll take away an entirely different kind of memory of your Atlantic Christmas.
If you have chosen the island for your holidays you’ll be hoping for an unusual, magical experience. And Lanzarote never disappoints. Jameos del Agua organises musical dinners, every Friday, in its Noches de Jameos. Another unique place to enjoy culture is the Cueva de los Verdes, which this month is hosting a performance by the dancer Rafaela Carrasco, as part of the Escena Lanzarote Festival. The gastronomic offer becomes gourmet at the MIAC Castillo de San José, featuring a festive menu based on local delicacies such as artisan cheeses, rock fish, Saharan squid, black pig… And the perfect place to explore traditional cuisine is the Casa Museo del Campesino, in the heart of the natural area of La Geria, where the wisdom of local cuisine is preserved. This year’s Christmas menu is irresistible: millet broth, goat meat stew, octopus with green mojo sauce and Canarian wreckfish stew, all paired with wines from the Lanzarote Designation of Origin.
Christmas for the kiddies
If you’re visiting with chinijos and chinijas (that’s what we call children on the island) in the family, the good news is that Lanzarote is very close to the home of the Three Wise Men. Their Majesties personally collect children’s letters at various points on the island, one of them being the Timanfaya National Park, from where the parade departs and travels to every corner of the island.
If you have decided to await the arrival of the Three Wise Men with us, come to any of the parades that take place on the afternoon of the 5th of January in the main towns and villages. The procession in Arrecife goes along the seafront avenue from the seaside area of the city to the Puente de las Bolas and, at the end, a concert is held in the Parque Islas Canarias. Wherever you are, the Three Kings will be on hand, even on La Graciosa, where they make their appearance amidst a comforting chocolatada (communal sharing of hot chocolate). Getting to know the eighth Canary Island on such a special day is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your trip.
Spend these holidays on the island, absorb its special energy and return with the vital gift of discovering the most traditional essence of Lanzarote.