UPDATED: 2nd January 2020
Fortunately for those who work in Tenerife, the island enjoys substantially more public holidays and time off than most other countries. Public holidays in Spain are known as ‘Fiestas’. These consist of National (Spain), Regional (Canaries) and local (Borough) holidays. Spanish law in place since 2007 limits the total number of Fiestas to 14 per year. In 2017, Tenerife enjoyed a total of 13 Fiestas, namely:
6th January – Epifanía del señor
20th January – San Sebastian
13th April – Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday)
14th April – Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
1st May – Fiesta de Trabajo
30th May – Dia de Canarias
15th August – Asunción de la virgen
9th October – Santa Ursula
12th October – Fiesta Nacional de España
1st November – Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day)
6th December – Dia de la constitución Española
8th December – La inmaculada concepción
25th December – Natividad del señor (Christmas Day)
By way of contrast, Austria has 13 holidays, Germany 12, Belgium Italy and France 11, UK and Ireland 9 each and the Netherlands 8.
In addition, Spanish law provides that all employees must receive a minimum of 30 calendar days (equating to 22 working days). Including the Fiestas, that adds up to an impressive 36 days holiday per year. By way of contrast, UK workers only receive a minimum 28 total days off per year. Traditionally, many Spaniards use this allowance to take the whole of August off, particularly in the warmer regions of Spain where the August climate is less than conducive to productive working.
And as if that wasn’t enough time off, many Canarians will take advantage of what is called a ‘puente’ (bridge). For instance, if a particular public holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, many workers will take the Friday or Monday off, thereby creating a very long weekend. This is quite a strange concept to new arrivals in Tenerife, who can perhaps be forgiven for asking “Do the Spanish ever work at all?”
In addition to the above, many Canarians will take additional time off during Carnival week in February, perhaps for no reason other than their participation in the festivities up in Santa Cruz resulting in the mother of all hangovers.
Local holidays can be particularly frustrating for those residents from another borough. Someone living in Adeje (e.g. in Playa de las Americas) where everything is open on a particular day might get a shock when he or she travels 1 kilometre down the road into Arona (e.g. Los Cristianos) to find that every non-tourist business is closed for the day.
So how do Spanish public holidays affect tourists and other residents? All public offices, shops and some bars and restaurants in non-tourist areas close. Public transport and medical services are often reduced and taxi fares increase.
Apart from the above public holidays, several regions of Tenerife hold annual celebrations known as ‘romerias’ and ‘fiestas’. Whilst these do not typically result in time off work, they are often grand celebrations nonetheless.
ROMERIAS are pilgrimages in honour of a particular Saint or the Virgin Mary. Most typically involve a colourful procession featuring traditional Canarian costumes, floats or carts and local music. There can literally be hundreds of such events on the island.
The main Romerias are:
January – ARONA – Fiesta de San Antonio Abad
April – TEGUESTE – Romería de San Marcos
May – VALLE SAN LORENZO – Romería de la Virgen de Fátima
June – LA OROTAVA – Romería de San Isidro
July – LA LAGUNA – Romería de San Benito
August – CANDELARIA – Romería de la Virgen de Candelaria
August – ARAFO – Romería de San Agustín
August – GARACHICO – Romería de San Roque
September – GUIMAR – Romería de Nuestra Señora del Socorro
The main local FIESTAS are:
May – Fiestas de la Cruz – ISLAND WIDE – These fiestas vary from town to village but often involve fireworks, costume parties and processions.
June – Corpus Christi – ISLAND WIDE – The largest takes place in La Orotava where carpets of flowers are laid out in the streets along the route of the procession together with impressive tapestries made from coloured sand showing biblical scenes in the Town Hall Plaza.
June – Fiesta de San Juan – ISLAND WIDE – Anyone flying into Tenerife after sunset lucky enough to have a window seat can marvel at the hundreds of bonfires burning up and down the island. Many locals hit the beach after dusk for a party, which typically ends up with the ‘ritual purification’ of a midnight swim.
July – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen – COASTAL TOWNS – Locals honour the patron saint of fisherman with processions of the virgin through the streets and then continuing on a boat surrounded by a flotilla of small boats, often against the backdrop of fireworks.
August – Fiestas de la Virgen de Candelaria – LA CANDELARIA – Candelaria’s Virgin is the patron saint of the Canary Islands. Followers from all over Tenerife descend on Candelaria to participate in processions and masses.
September – Fiestas del Santo Cristo – LA LAGUNA – Locals come to marvel at the Military parades, processions and fireworks whilst eating and drinking in the outdoor cafes, especially in the Plaza del Cristo.
November – Fiesta de San Andres – SELECTED NORTHERN TOWNS – Many bodegas traditionally open their wine cellars for the public to taste their latest vintages. In Oratava and Puerto de la Cruz one can see children running through the streets banging pots and pans and tin cans. In Icod de los Vinos many children toboggan down the steep hills of the town on wooden boards.