Las Alfombras de La Orotava Corpus Christi in the Canaries

Las Alfombras de la Orotava FEATURE

Las Alfombras de La Orotava

“Get ready, Erica, we’re going to see La Orotava’s carpets!”

🤷 Vale.

Are we talking Turkish rugs? Royal tapestries? Perhaps Aladdin has swooped down to show me a whole new world? It’s not the first time I’ve jumped at a vague and slightly confusing invitation, and it certainly won’t be the last!

And as usual, I definitely wasn’t disappointed with the alfombras de la Orotava. Spontaneity for the win. 😉

Alfombras de la Orotava

Within the hour we were on our way along Tenerife’s stunningly scenic northern highway amid the lush, verdant ravines of the Orotava Valley. Views of the interminable Atlantic to our right and the titanic Mt. Teide to our left, this was set to be a good day.

La Orotava is easily one of the most charming towns in Tenerife and is worth a visit any time of year, but even more so during its colorful Corpus Christi celebrations held annually from about mid-May to mid-June.

As we arrived, the town was fully alive and singing with color and movement. The abuela’s strolled arm and arm in their traditional Canarian dresses, their pom poms dancing in the wind. Crowds made their way down the sidewalks, admiring the floral carpets as children weaseled between their legs and under the guard rails to get a better view.

As we neared the Church of Our Lady of Conception, young girls in tiaras and white tulle skirts beamed beside the blossoms, their families taking advantage of the lovely decorations and late spring sunshine to snap their first communion photos.

Alfombras de la Orotava

So, What the Alfombra are
Las Alfombras de La Orotava?

The ‘carpets’ are not actually carpets, but intricately designed patterns created with vibrant flower petals, toasted seeds and volcanic sand from nearby Mt. Teide. The carpets are designed and crafted by groups of neighbors from local barrios and decorate the narrow, antique streets and plazas of lovely La Orotava, radiating color and fragrant aromas.

The Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi takes place every year 60 days after Easter, and since the mid-18th century has been celebrated with floral carpets in many parts of Spain. Some of the more well-known celebrations include Ponteareas in Galicia and many towns in the Canary Islands, such as La Orotava, La Laguna and Arucas, to name a few.

In La Orotava, the tradition has been alive and well for over a century, and since 1919 has included a giant display at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in front of the town hall. The elaborate alfombra in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento takes weeks to craft and is such a point of interest on Tenerife that the town of La Orotava has recently set up a web cam for those who wish to see the progress.

Corpus Christi 2018
2018 Alfombras de La Orotava

Corpus Christi 2018 La Orotava

2018 Dates

In 2018, the alfombristas of La Orotava will begin decorating the town hall’s square for Corpus Christi from May 15, with the most important events happening in June.

The most important dates for 2018 are:

Thursday, June 7, 2018: Tapices & Alfombras – Corpus Christi Day

The busy alfombristas begin their masterpieces at 8:00 am, splashing the town in color with their vivid, floral designs. You can even enter the historic town hall to view the biggest floral carpet in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento from the balconies above.

Alfombras de la Orotava Copus Christi

Friday, June 8, 2018: Baile de Magos

To get a real sneak peak into Canarian culture, there’s nothing like attending the Baile de Magos. It’s expected that all guests respect local customs by wearing traditional Canarian clothing, so don your fullest peasant skirt or widest brimmed panama hat and get amongst it!

Baile de Magos Canary Islands

Sunday, June 10, 2018: La Romería de San Isidro y Santa María de la Cabeza

On the morning of the 10th, locals will crowd into the church to offer fruit and attend mass, followed by the romería pilgrimage in the early afternoon. In the evening, the town will continue to celebrate with traditional music and dancing, mostly concentrated around Plaza de la Constitución.

La Fiesta de La Rama. Agaete, Gran Canaria, Spain. 8-2017

For the full schedule of events, click here for the 2018 program.

2018 Theme

Alfombras de La Orotava Theme 2018

In recent years, it has become quite common for the Corpus Christi carpets to spread a social message or commentary, and this year, the alfombras de la Orotava will share two very important messages – the every-growing refugee crisis and violence against women. I’m very much looking forward to see how these themes will play out in this years’ artwork.

La Orotava

La Orotava is easily one of the most beautiful regions of Tenerife, and includes everything from the lush green Orotava Valley, the cerulean blue waters of Puerto de la Cruz, and the otherworldly peak of Mt. Teide (the tallest mountain in Spain at 3,718 m). At the center of it all, of course, is the strikingly elegant town of La Orotava.

The town was strategically built about 400 meters above the northern coastline to protect from pirate raids, which weren’t at all uncommon in the early days.  La Orotava was traditionally the home of the elite, and it shows. Creamy white houses with elaborately ornate wooden balconies peer out over picturesque parks and cobblestoned plazas. La Orotava is always a delight to visit, and not least so during the enchanting Corpus Christi celebrations.

Getting to La Orotava

By Car

From Santa Cruz the journey should take about half an hour. Take highway TF-5 north through La Laguna and along the northern coast heading west. Just past Santa Ursula, merge inland onto highway TF-211 and follow the signs to La Orotava.

Parking is never easy in La Orotava and even less so during special events, so public transport isn’t a bad idea for those looking to avoid the hassle.

By Bus

From Santa Cruz, hop on Titsa Bus 107, 108 or 101. The trip will take 50 – 80 minutes and will drop you off at the La Orotava bus station in the modern part of town. While not far, be warned that the whole town is built on a hill and it’s a steep stroll to get in and around the historic town center.

Get Lost Amid the Alfombras de La Orotava

When: Annually from mid/late May to mid-June. Please see the La Orotava tourism website for this years’ official dates.
Where: The stunning, historical town of La Orotava set above the lush hills of La Orotava valley.
Cost: free!

Have you ever seen Spain’s Corpus Christi carpets?

If you follow this blog, you know that I’m obsessed the Spain’s fun-loving summer celebrations. If you’ve had the chance to enjoy a fragrant Corpus Christi celebration in another town or pueblo, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section!

Hasta pronto!

Erica  💙✌️



18 Comments Add yours

  1. What amazing artists they are, and with flowers and seeds! This looks like a fantastic place to visit at any time of the year, but especially during the Corpus Christi season. You’ve convinced me that Oratava has to be added to my (neverending) list of places to visit. Thanks for the article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      It really is a lovely and charming town! And I absolutely know all too well what you mean about the neverending list of places to visit! haha, thanks for reading 🙂


  2. Oh my word, they look insane! I had no idea what they were until you explained them, I did think they were made with powder paint but petals sounds so much cooler. How do they not blow away? I loved the pictures of this and it looks so colourful


  3. That looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. I’m loving the thought of the abuelas in their traditional dresses, and the real sense of celebration you depict. I’m thinking there must be skill alongside the artistry too, as all of the components of the carpets – sand, seeds, petals – must be very susceptible to the wind, and it wouldn’t be good to lose such beautiful designs to the weather.


  4. Melanie says:

    Wow! I wonder how much time they make doing the Alfombras. These are very talented artists!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      The main carpet at the town hall takes 4 or 5 weeks to complete! They barricade the area with tarp and umbrellas to keep the wind from disrupting them. The smaller carpets on the streets are planned out for many weeks, but they pull them together in one day, starting from 5 or 6 AM!


  5. How unique! It reminds me of a driving tour we did in the Amish country of Indiana in the states. In the summer, they have flower beds designed as quilts in a few cities that make a loop. So much fun! Glad you had a great day and it definitely looks like one of the most charming towns in that area for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Oooo, that sounds so pretty! Amish country is already so quirky and charming, I imagine those quilts were a perfect addition 🙂


  6. trimmtravels says:

    Still can’t believe I haven’t made it to Tenerife as many times as I’ve been to the Canaries. I’m usually there right after the festivals though. I would love to see these and this year’s themes of refugee crisis and violence against women are so important! Just more reasons to love the Canaries! It’s now on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Excellent! Tenerife is stunning, I’m sure you’re going to love it! Let me know what time of year you’re planning to come and I’d be more than happy to give you some suggestions!


  7. Patricia says:

    I can see why everyone raves about this part of Spain. Tenerife does look stunning, so colorful. And these carpets – not the flying ones for sure, but what crazy pieces of art! These remind me of some of the artwork done with fruits and mimosas during the February festivals in the South of France.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Ooo, I’ve never heard of this is the south of France but it sounds dreamy! I’m definitely going to look into that for next year, thank you!


  8. Theresa B. says:

    These gorgeous flower carpets remind me of the flower carpet in the Grand Place in Belgium during their own festival. But this one seems more ideal because the backdrop is the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Would love to visit during this floral festival.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Oooo, I’ve never heard of the festival in Belgium but it sounds gorgeous! The architecture their is already so fairy tale-like, I’m sure the flowers make an incredible addition. What time of year is it?


  9. Yukti says:

    Tenerife looks straight out from fairy tale setting. I went to Spain few years back but missed this wonderland. Tenerife looks very quirky type of place with colorful and artistic settings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Tenerife is incredible, the landscapes are stunning and there are incredible events like this going on all year long. I hope you make it to the Canaries on your next trip to Spain!


  10. This is so different to the Canary islands I experienced when I visited as a child and it really makes me want to go back and see it properly. It seems so full of life and colour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Yes, please do! I feel like it’s become my personal mission to steer people away from the all-inclusives in the south and encourage them to see the *real* Canary Islands. I hope you make it back someday 🙂


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