Noche de San Juan in El Médano 2015. Photo: Nikki Attree
Updated 23 June: Police, emergency and security forces including the 112 control room and bomberos have all pleaded with the public to enjoy tonight’s San Juan Bautista midsummer bonfires safely and responsibly. We are in the middle of a mini-heatwave, with the toxic combination in place of high temperatures, high winds, and low humidity.
The rules and conditions for private bonfires are at the bottom of this post – they are the ones issued by Adeje but virtually the same will be in place in all municipalities – but this morning the Tenerife Cabildo has announced that bonfires in the mountains will not be permitted at all due to the weather conditions. The map opposite (click to enlarge) shows the areas in colour where bonfires are prohibited. Only in the areas which are white are private bonfires allowed provided the rules as below are adhered to.
Bear in mind that given the dividing line on the map above is in the main the motorways, and in the west, this means that areas that you would not expect to see bans in are in fact no-go areas for bonfires, eg Roque del Conde, Los Menores, etc. The main activity, in any case, will be on the beaches, and the main public bonfires will be at Puerto de la Cruz, Playa San Juan, Playa de Los Cristianos, and Playa Fañabe, though many smaller beaches like Puerto Santiago’s Playa Chica will also have a bonfire party going on. It’s a special night. Let’s hope it’s a safe one too.
Updated 21 June: Santiago del Teide municipality’s bonfire will be at Playa Chica, and like Adeje counts with a giant sculpture, this one holding a fish. Both will be going in the bonfire!
Updated 20 June: Arona’s bonfire will be on Playa de los Cristianos, and will be lit at 9pm, but with entertainment around the beach area from 8pm.
Updated 19 June: Adeje Ayuntamiento’s celebrations for San Juan’s Night will be held at Playa Fañabé. The council is coordinating the event with the company that manages the beach, Urb. Playa Fañabé S.A., and is preparing a huge bonfire to burn a 5m sculpture created by Italian artist Luigi Stinga. The picture of it opposite has a spine-tingling Wicker Man type effect! The evening starts at 7.30pm and the bonfire will be lit after 10pm. Needless to say, celebrations will go on most of the night!
The council reminds the public that they need permission for their own bonfires, either from the council itself or, if a beach bonfire, from the Dept of Costas. The form you need to fill in can be downloaded online from the council page, www.adeje.es and presented at the citizens’ advice office. There is no cost for this service, and you must include where the fire is to be built, and include a copy of your personal documentation. The council says that the procedure is to guarantee the public’s safety and the council urges people to respect this rule and take all the appropriate security measures to ensure that the evening is one that is enjoyed by all.
Original post 13 June: Tenerife has its own bonfire night, on the eve of the annual midsummer festival of San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist). On St John’s Eve, 23 June, Tenerife is lit up with bonfires, and with smoke swirling in the hills throughout the island, many visitors often think that an early summer fire has broken out. This year, on Friday next week, is certain to be no different.
The celebrations are not restricted to the inland hills and villages, however, with fires and parties on many beaches. Particularly popular are the ones held in El Médano and Los Cristianos, but the most spectacular will no doubt again be the west coast celebration at the fiesta’s namesake beach, Playa San Juan. If you are near one of these beach parties, which continue despite occasional attempts by some local Ayuntamientos to ban them, you will see the clear pagan origins of the midsummer rite with people leaping over the flames three times, a purification ritual to burn away sins and misfortunes, and so bring good luck for the next year.
In Guía de Isora, San Juan Bautista’s Day itself, the 24th, is a public holiday, and in Puerto de la Cruz goat keepers from the hills above the town bring their flocks down to the sea to bathe them in the early morning waves. This Baño de Cabras (bathing of the goats) is another tradition with pagan roots, making the goats quite literally “scapegoats”, whose own purification brings good fortune to all in the local community. Thousands come to watch the spectacle.
Please do check with your local council if you’re planning a bonfire of your own – here are Adeje’s safety regulations for private bonfires, but they apply to anyone anywhere! Wherever you celebrate la Noche or el Día de San Juan, I hope you have a great and safe time.
- Bonfires are forbidden in barrancos, protected natural zones, close to residential areas or zones deemed dangerous.
- The provincial coasts (Costas) department are the only body who can grant permission for beach bonfires. If you light a bonfire without permission you are liable to fines and/or prison and the police will be vigilant about asking for the relevant documentation.
- Bonfires are also forbidden on public roads or public spaces without the written permission of the body in charge of the particular zone.
- Any bonfire must be in a place that is easily accessible by the emergency services. It must not be near trees, bushes, electrical fences or posts, cars, buildings, etc. The fire can be lit and maintained between the hours of 9pm and 2am (June 23rd – June 24th), and always away from any area that would affect residents (noise consideration too).
- Before setting the fire, clean the surrounding area to avoid danger of the fire spreading out of control. If a fire is not safely set or placed, the authorities will have the right to extinguish it.
- Have a 2-metre wide firewall around the fire.
- The firewood piles must not be higher than one metre. You may burn wood and similar materials. You may not burn materials that will release toxic or contaminated products, pressurised containers, plastic, tyres, greenhouse materials, fireworks or any other risk-related items.
- The bonfire must be looked after until it is completely extinguished and at least two hours after embers have been glowing. The fire must not be lit if there is excess wind or other meteorological conditions declared by the regional government that would affect it (high temperatures, etc).
- In the case of any form of emergency people should call 112 or the local police, 922 47206 / 922 716508.
- The person who signs the application is also taking responsibility for any fires or covering the cost of any damage caused by the bonfire as well as the cost of any service that is called to attend to a problem caused by the bonfire.