Las Alfombras de La Orotava Corpus Christi in the Canaries

Las Alfombras de la Orotava FEATURE

Las Alfombras de La Orotava
Corpus Christi in the Canaries

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

<Shrug>🤷, 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 wasn’t disappointed with the alfombras de la OrotavaSpontaneity, once again,  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. Sunny spring skies above, 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 never more so than during its colorful Corpus Christi celebrations held annually from about mid-May to mid-June.

As we arrived, the town was fully alive and buzzing with color and movement. The abuela’s strolled arm and arm in their traditional Canarian dresses, the colourful pom poms of their full, striped skirts 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 with local products 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 and La Laguna (in Tenerife), and  Gran Canaria´s 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 2019
2019 Alfombras de La Orotava

Las Alformbras de La Orotava Corpus Christi Tenerife 2019

Alfombras de la Orotava: 2019 Dates

While every year is a big event for las alfombras in La Orotava, this year marks a major milestone as the event celebrates it´s centenial in the lovely village – 100 years of floral carpets  for Corpus Christi.

In 2019, 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 late June.

The most important dates for 2019 are:

Thursday, May 15, 2019: Day 1 of La Orotava´s annual festival of San Isidro Labrador

The festivities in La Orotava begin in mid-May and last over a month. For the full schedule of events, click here for the 2019 program.

Thursday, June 27, 2019: 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 28, 2019: 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 30, 2018: La Romería de San Isidro y Santa María de la Cabeza

On the morning of the 30th, 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

2019 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 we´re eagerly awaiting the announcement of  the 2019 theme.

In 2018, the alfombras de la Orotava shared two very important messages and calls for action – the ever-growing refugee crisis and violence against women. I’m very much looking forward to see which theme is chosen for 2019.

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. Locals gather on the terrace of a café which sits within a gazebo overlooking the valley and the coast in the distance. 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, like La Rama de Agaete, Teror´s Fiesta del Pino and Madrid´s La Paloma. 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 comments below!

Hasta pronto!

Erica  💙✌️

 

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30 Comments Add yours

  1. Amanda says:

    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 🙂

      Like

  2. Amber says:

    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

    Like

  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.

    Like

  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!

      Like

  5. Dayna & Scott says:

    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 🙂

      Like

  6. Heather Trimm 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!

      Like

  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!

      Like

  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?

      Like

  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!

      Like

  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 🙂

      Like

  11. Delphine says:

    The Canaries were a popular destination when I was growing up in France. We don’t hear about it much in Australia. Thank you for some great photos, I´d love to see those floral carpets in person one day.

    Like

  12. Tania Muthusany says:

    What a lovely post. I would love to see this festival. Those carpets are amazing! I love the details and it´s pretty incredible that they´´re all made with local flora and fauna.

    Like

  13. sarah blevins says:

    Those carpets are so beautiful! This area wasn’t even on our radar! Do you find it to be pretty kid friendly? Seems like could be a great day out with the family for an end of the school term escape.

    Like

  14. Patricia says:

    La Orotava and las alfombras look unreal! It’s like a fairy place coming alive! The colors, the designs, the structure, and buildings, incredible! The time spent to create and maintain these carpets must be insane!

    Like

  15. carolcolborn says:

    Those alfombras are certainly captivating in beauty and color. I canceled a trip to the Canary Islands kast October. Perhaps the better time is when thus happens!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Spring is definitely a magical time around here. Everything is in full bloom and there are tons of cultural parties and festivals where the locals dress up in traditional costume and dance to traditional music. Any plans to reschedule you visit for a later date?

      Like

  16. Kevin says:

    It is so interesting that these can only be seen at a certain time of year, but if they are made from flower pedals then I guess it makes sense! Despite not actually being carpets, I can see why they’re called that; based on your photos, they truly do look soft and fluffy! Thanks for sharing, this must’ve been a joy to see in person 🙂

    Like

  17. Astrid Vinje says:

    There’s a town in Mexico that I learned about recently that does a similar tradition of street carpets, but during the Day of the Dead. They look so beautiful!

    Like

    1. Erica says:

      Oooh, I´d love to see that! Do you remember what the town is called?

      Like

  18. Mirela says:

    I’ve recently been reading about Spain, I really hope to visit soon. (But, as this year and the next are fully booked, soon is quite far away!)

    Like

  19. Yukti says:

    La Orotava is really looking like a fairy tale town in Tenerife. It really looks like the home of elites and good to know that it was strategically constructed to escape out from pirate raids.

    Like

  20. Jas says:

    This is my first time hearing about the town La Orotava and those “carpet” designs are just amazing! Wow! Best thing is it’s free admission too. Will defs need to add this to my travel plans for next May/June!

    Like

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