Collage of 2011's fiesta courtesy of Adeje Ayuntamiento
Collage of 2011’s fiesta courtesy of Adeje Ayuntamiento

As every year, the first of Adeje’s two local public holidays gives an opportunity to see some real Canarian tradition in the heart of the tourist area. The fiesta of one of the town’s patrons, San Sebastian, in La Caleta next week involves horsemen riding into the sea, and pastoral farmers dragging their goats and sheep into the water for the animals to be blessed. The event’s draw makes it almost more a spectacular tourist event than a religious one, but despite the tens of thousands of people who turn up to watch it, at its core is the celebration of a fiesta to San Sebastian, the saint who can ward off plagues, and so keep animals, and humans, healthy throughout the coming year.

The celebrations begin on Tuesday 19 January with a two-day open air exhibition of municipal photographs. There will also be a ‘pinchos’ competition – small tapas on a cocktail stick, cheap and tasty, and ideal for eating on the street. You can vote for your favourite pincho from 7pm to midnight. Mass with the Santa Ana folklore group in honour of San Sebastián will be celebrated at 8pm followed by a procession with the Adeje Municipal Band, and fireworks. From 7pm there will also be a ‘Parrandas’ evening, with small music groups playing in public, among them the Paranda Boleros de Armeñime, G. F. La Diata, A. C. Cultural Imoque, the Parranda El Mesturao and the Adeje Municipal Folklore group.

Wednesday 20th is the actual feast day itself, with events beginning at noon with a mass in honour of the Saint sung by the Santa Úrsula de Adeje parochial choir. The procession with the image of the saint then moves outside and takes the pilgrims down to La Enramada beach where the crowds will be waiting to see the traditional bathing of the horses, and quite often a few donkeys and maybe a camel or two.

This is a fiesta steeped in local traditions which was first celebrated here in the 18th century. Indeed, this year marks 100 years that the statue of San Sebastián has been in Adeje; the statue, which is carried ceremoniously to the sea, was brought to the parish in 1916 by the then parish priest, Eulogio Gutiérrez Estévez. Over the years country people and local Adeje farmers and beyond continued with their devotions to the saint in a very particular and special way. Many have attributed miracles to the statue of San Sebastián, including cures and favours granted.

Since numbers in the tens of thousands take part in the fiesta every year, the council has security measures in place to guarantee safety for everyone attending: personnel will be present from the Policia Local, the Civil Protection Unit, the Sea Rescue service, ambulances and health professionals. The council asks the public please to take note of any access restrictions on the streets or on the beach in advance of the procession as they are there for the public’s security. Some parking restrictions will be in place to facilitate free flow of traffic and allow people walk along the streets. There will also be a zone cordoned off for farm animals who are taking part in the festivities.

In particular, the public is reminded that given the numbers attending, plenty of time should be allowed for parking and walking. Attendees are also advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, to be prepared for long sun exposure, and to bring drinking water. Since this is a fiesta in which animals are very much involved, the council says that if you are bringing you own animal they must be on a lead and have their own food and water too. There are more photos, including those of family pets being blessed, in Adeje English Time’s blog HERE.

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