Spending Christmas in a hot clime can often mean trading in that warm and fuzzy Christmas spirit for a friendly sun in order to defy winter’s chilly grasp. But that isn’t the case with Tenerife holidays.
Tenerife celebrates Christmas with mucho gusto; historic towns are given a seasonal makeover with twinkling lights draped around palm trees and picturesque plazas. Historic towns like La Orotava and La Laguna become winter wonderlands after dark when cobbled streets fill with shoppers fuelled by turrón (a Christmas speciality cake) from quaint street stalls add to the town’s Christmassy atmosphere.
In Tenerife’s modern resorts, street decorations are much in evidence, and you’ll find that the Plaza del Duque shopping centre in Costa Adeje gives traditional towns a run for their money with exquisite decorations that are as chic and sophisticated as the clothes in the centre’s designer stores.
Best of all is Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz, which buzzes with festive flair. Apart from streets that could double as Santa’s grotto if he ever re-located to a tropical paradise, there are live bands to entertain shoppers. One of the highlights of the city’s Christmas programme is a Christmas Day concert by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra which is not only magical, it’s free.
Although there are similarities in the way Christmas is celebrated on Tenerife, there are also differences worth knowing about. The Spanish hold their big family dinner on Christmas Eve not Christmas Day. Consequently Canarian restaurants and some hotel dining rooms close early. The locals are back on the streets by midnight, heading to church for the Misa de Gallo Christmas mass.
A cheeky little fellow to look out for is ‘el caganer’, the star of beautifully detailed nativity scenes called beléns which are erected in town halls and shopping centres. Everybody gets a kick out of trying to spot the belén’s most popular and amusing figure as he’s someone who has been caught short outdoors. He’s usually found crouched behind a bush or beneath a tree.
The Icing on the Christmas Cake
The spectacular jewel in the crown of the island’s festive scene is when Mount Teide puts on its winter coat to make Christmas on Tenerife a white one. Imagine spending Christmas morning on Tenerife snowboarding and Christmas afternoon surfing and sunbathing – there aren’t many holiday destinations that can offer a combination like that.