The best fiestas to experience on your Lanzarote summer holiday
Celebrations and fiestas are synonymous with a Lanzarote summer holiday. It’s the season when locals and residents enjoy the beach and the crystal blue waters, laugh, and dance in the good company of friends and family. Be warned, however, as summer spirit can be pretty contagious!
Apart from being the holiday season, there are more deep-rooted and spiritual reasons why summer fiestas in Spainare so important for traditional seafaring communities. And Lanzarote is no exception.
Lanzarote’s maritime history
Lanzarote is surrounded by the ocean, and you can see it from almost any point of the island. Its people have deep-seated bonds with the sea: a way of life, providing the food on their plates and the salt with which to season it.
Lanzarote is a relatively small island with 169 miles of coastline and numerous picturesque fishing towns and coastal communities. Many towns and villages hold their own fiestas during the summer, far too many to mention. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular celebrations.
Fiestas del Carmen, one of the great Spanish fiestas
Most of Spain’s fishing villages and towns celebrate the Virgen del Carmen festival on 16 July. As Spain has over 3,000 miles of coastline and 60 islands, that’s a lot of celebrations!
The Virgen del Carmen is the patron saint of fisherman and sailors, as well as the Spanish Navy, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the most important fiestas in Spain.
How does Lanzarote celebrate Fiestas del Carmen?
Different regions have their own way of celebrating. In Lanzarote, it’s a truly special time that blends its people’s unique culture, volcanic landscape, cuisine, and Canary Island traditions.
In Lanzarote, these celebrations usually go on for around two weeks, and you’ll find lots of individual fiestas dotted around the island during July. Each municipal council organises its own programme of activities, and the exact dates can vary. The most vibrant Fiestas del Carmen in Lanzarote during July are held in the main resort of Puerto del Carmen in Tias, Playa Blanca in the southernmost municipality of Yaiza, Arrieta in the northern municipality of Haria, the island of La Graciosa and in Valterra in Arrecife – the traditional fishing district of Puerto Naos and home to capital’s port.
But if you’re planning a Lanzarote summer holiday, you’ll be sure to find the following activities in all of them.
- The procession of Nuestra Señora del Carmen from land to sea
Día del Carmen falls on 16 July, when the grand procession takes place. It’s a very moving act where an effigy of the Virgen del Carmen is paraded from the village church towards the sea. She will be placed on the leading boat adorned with flowers and decorations and sails out accompanied by a flotilla of smaller boats. When it arrives out into the ocean, priests step aboard to perform a blessing in the hope of a good fishing season.
- A programme packed with activities, sports, music, and dance.
There’s something for all the family during these two weeks of celebration. You’ll find traditional sports and games such as Lucha Canaria (Canarian wrestling), Bola Canaria (Canarian bowls) and domino competitions. There are dance classes, arts and crafts workshops and fairs, prize draws, traditional folkloric dancing, singing, and storytelling for children.
- Verbenas: getting the party started!
Verbenas are the Canarians’ favourite way to party! These open-air festivals with live music and DJs usually start after midnight and continue well into the early hours. There is always a vibrant and positive atmosphere withpartygoers in good spirits. Every municipality hosts a verbena, and they are usually free to enter.
Fiesta de San Ginés in Arrecife
Unlike Las fiestas del Carmen, this is not one of the national Spanish fiestas but a local celebration in honour of Saint Ginés, patron saint of Arrecife. Festivities take place in the capital for around two weeks during August, including the 25th, the official saint’s day and bank holiday.
The celebration’s origins go back to the 16th century when the port and the first chapel in Arrecife were founded. In the chapel hung two pictures, one of Saint Peter the Apostle and the other of Saint Ginés de Clermont. The first Fiesta de San Ginés is recorded to have happened in 1669. Since then, it has become a traditional day when the people of Valterracelebrate their maritime traditions and roots.
What to enjoy during the Fiestas of San Gines
The capital’s maritime roots are at the heart of these celebrations, so much of the fun takes place in the water.
- Jolateros: these rustic little boats were fashioned out of used oil drums in the past. The locals used them as auxiliary boats to sail out to larger trading boats anchored off the coast. Jolatero races for kids in the Charco de San Ginés are a highlight of the fiestas as locals and visitors crowd the waterline to witness the fun.
- Sports: water sports take centre stage during the Fiesta de San Ginés, particularly sailing, with the Regata Internacional San Ginés. Sailing fans might also be interested in popping over to Arrecife from August 18-21 to see the 11th edition of the César Manrique Regatta. The event takes place just after the San Ginés Regatta and attracts regional, national and international participants.
- Music and dance: don’t be surprised if a parranda erupts around you spontaneously in Arrecife at this time of year! Lanzarote locals love to play music, sing, and dance, which is at the core of the summer fiestas in Lanzarote. Over the two weeks, there’ll also be plenty of other musical attractions such as open-air concerts, DJs, verbenas, traditional dancing and performances.
- Other activities and arts: Like most other popular fiestas in Lanzarote, there’ll be lots of artistic and cultural activities, cinema and workshops for adults and children alike
- Beach party with fireworks: the 25th is the saint’s day (Día de San Ginés). It’s the last night of celebrations which go out with a bang with a vibrant beach party and firework display – a spectacle not to be missed!
Fiestas de Famara
Famara, undoubtedly one of Lanzarote’s most beautiful beaches and another of Lanzarote’s most traditional coastal communities, celebrates the Virgen del Sagrado Corazón de María (Sacred Heart of Mary) during the last week of August.
The sea is the true essence of Famara fiestas. Almost everyone is on holiday, and spirits are high as people enjoy their family and friends on the beach.
Apart from a range of games, activities, and musical concerts that fill this popular programme of events, the main attraction for all the family is the Verbena de Agua. Unlike the traditional verbena, which is for adults and takes place at night, this is a fantastic fun-filled daytime event.
It takes place on the final day. Celebrations start with the procession of the Virgen on a boat out to sea. Just afterwards, a batucada leads the streets to the main stage where live music takes place, and crowds are hosed down with water to cool them off as they dance in the sunshine. Everyone is welcome, and its great fun for all!
Fiestas and romerías to round off the Lanzarote summer holidays
The municipality of San Bartolomé also holds its summer fiesta from 8 to 20 August. Activities are usually spread between the town of San Bartolomé and its seaside town of Playa Honda. There’s fun for all the family including workshops, singing, dancing and parrandas, which culminates into the early hours with a verbena on the last night, 23 August.
September is not only the month when children go back to school, but it’s also when Spanish fiestas in Lanzarote come to an end.
Thousands of pilgrims flock from all over the island (called a romería) to the Chapel of Dolores in Tinajo to pay homage to Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores. Legend has it that the saint stopped the flow of lava from the 17th Timanfayaeruptions, and the chapel was erected on the exact spot.
The week is celebrated with a large arts and crafts fair and culminates in the main celebration on Saturday, 10 September in 2022. Hordes of locals, residents and tourists alike dress in Canarian traditional costumes to walk all the way to the chapel for a night of music, singing, dancing and an amusement park for the kids.
So there are plenty of reasons to celebrate during your Lanzarote summer holiday. Come and join in the fun!