We love the Noche de San Juan in Puerto de la Cruz; it is the place to bring in Midsummer’s Day on Tenerife, but we do it every year and subsequently don’t get to see first hand what’s happening elsewhere. Yesterday we decided to rectify that.

Detailed information about what’s happening in various places around Tenerife can be sketchy and a bit vague, so with no real timings except a knowledge that things tend to get going after dark, we headed west on a magical mystery tour of the night of San Juan.

First stop was La Caleta de Interian beyond Garachico, but to get there we had to drive through a pall of smoke around Icod de los Vinos as half the valley seemed to take the opportunity to barbeque their rubbish. As we drove past fires burning dangerously close to dry scrub land I realised why the Cabildo had announced last week instead of this how well they’d contained forest fires so far this year.

Lighting up the beach

Fiesta 1 –  La Caleta de Interian
La Caleta might seem a strange choice and Andy was dubious, but I’d chosen it because it actually did have a programme of timed events…sort of.
We parked up easily – it’s not a big place – and wandered down to the smart promenade where a couple of hundred residents and, bizarrely, a Chinese film crew were queuing up for sardines and papas arrugadas. The sun was setting fast and although it had been a cloudy day along the coast (typical San Juan weather) the sun had dipped below the cloud to cast a golden glow on the hills behind the town. As darkness fell, so did the temperature. As more people arrived at the seafront and a small parranda group tried to out-sing campers on the beach who were enjoying a mini rave, the beach was warmed up by a bit of Midsummer magic. Small torches placed right along the beach were lit as soon as darkness descended creating a fiery crescent. It was a wonderful little touch and a reminder to us that nothing can match seeing something first hand.

Warming up Garachico

Fiesta 2 – Garachico
Next stop was Garachico. A fire had been built on the cliffs beside the town’s small bay which was full of tents. It was much warmer in Garachico, especially as we had to walk within a few feet of the fire to get to the beach. This was something that was made a tad more exciting as a firework display beside the fire started just as we passed and glowing ash and sparks reined down on us. Not a lot was happening, but it had a seductively relaxed vibe.

The Wind Section

Fiesta 3 – San Juan de la Rambla
We’d read that fireballs were launched down the hill in San Juan de la Rambla, but by the time we arrived, everyone had converged on the picturesque plaza beside the church where a batucada group were giving it laldy, adding a bohemian beat to the town. Some people carried torches whilst others, with a touch that was pure Guanche, accompanied the drummers by blowing through conch shells.

The Main Event on the Night of San Juan

Fiesta 4 – The Big One; Puerto de la Cruz
As we drove back along the coast not long before midnight, a spectacular firework display lit up the Orotava Valley. Puerto’s party was in full swing. It was absolute chaos as we drove towards the beach with cars parked anywhere there was the slightest opening – crossings, pavements, anywhere. Cars were  streaming into town and groups of youngsters were still heading to the beach with carrier bags full of rum and coke. By a minor miracle we got lucky and found a space right near the beach. Compared to the smaller fiestas around Tenerife’s coast, Puerto’s party is in-yer-face larging it up. Tens of thousands of people packed the beach from Castillo San Felipe all the way to Punta Brava. As a band belted out 80s rock anthems we threw ourselves into the throng and headed to the sea for the obligatory Midsummer dip to the strains of  With or Without You and I Want to Break Free. The Noche de San Juan just wouldn’t be the same without some time at Playa Jardín.

If anyone out there wants to know what Midsummer’s Eve is like on Tenerife, there’s a very simple answer – it’s magical.

  1. […] But you ain’t going to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow if you don’t make the effort to look for it. Many times, on the basis of an intriguing sentence on a Spanish web page or something similar, we’ve headed off to events with no idea of what to expect. Nine times out of ten we are rewarded with something special. Like this week at La Caleta de Interian when they lit up the beach with small torches. […]

  2. islandmomma says:

    When we first came to live here (in the South, and I know traditions are different here) all we knew of Noche San Juan was that from our terrace, on a hillside we could see various points on surrounding hillsides where bonfires burned, a bit like the memories I had of November 5th in England as a child. This is confirmed to me by Spanish friends, who remember being among just a handful of people on the beach this night. Now it is a big deal. Granted the population has increased a lot in this time, and it makes much more sense to encourage people to go to the beach instead of the fire risks involved in private bonfires. it’s become one of my favorite nights of th e year.

    • dragojac says:

      Mine too. I was really torn this year between lounging on the beach at Puerto just enjoying the music and the general ambiance and going to see what happens elsewhere. There were still a few private fires along the north coast, some just left unattended next to quite dry scrubland. Just as well San Juan’s at the start of the summer and not the end.

  3. […] outstanding. Beginning with the European day of music, weaving it’s Midsummer Way through the San Juan beach parties and culminating last night in the capital, Santa Blues 2010 tops a week in which excellent live […]

  4. […] have apparently shown that quite a few human births follow on nine months down the line from the San Juan beach party and midnight swimming […]

  5. […] haven’t done this charismatic little festival any favours by holding the opening night on Noche de San Juan when much of the local population will be decamping to their nearest sand for the biggest beach […]

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