La Palma Carnival

In Santa Cruz de la Palma, Carnival starts the Friday before Ash Wednesday and goes on until the early hours of Sunday morning, called Piñata Sunday, ten days later.  The varied programme always starts with a children’s parade and includes dances in the street, parties in the Sailing Club, the Casino and the Investigator’s Social Club, a competition for fancy dress and the sardine’s funeral.  But there is no doubt that the fame of Santa Cruz’s Carnival has spread mostly thanks to the celebration which takes place on Carnival Monday. Dates from 3rd of Feb to the 21st of Feb 2012 (Parade 18th).

La Palma Carnival

La Palma Carnival

For one day, the whole town collectively revives the arrival of the Indios – the Palmerans who emigrated from the Canaries to South America or the West Indies, and then returned.  At one time many Palmerans emigrated to Cuba, and this fiesta, which portrays their landfall in the port of Santa Cruz, is the result.

The indianos return from the Americas with parrots in cages, chests, gigantic cigars, slaves, watch-chains and glasses, to be greeted by a curious battle of talcum powder, while the Caribbean music never stops.  The impressive O’Daly and Pérez de Brito streets endure the talc stoically, although it will take several days for them to return to their usual state.

At the begining of the 1960s, two Palmerans in love with their fiestas,  Yolanda Cabrera and Alfredo Pérez Díaz, began to parody the rich returnees, with their elegant dresses of silk and lace, and impeccable suits in fine white linen, open-topped cars and children dressed in sailor suits.  To begin with, the talc had nothing to do with these 19th century costumes, but begining in the 1980s, the indianos were added to the official town hall programme, and mixed with the Carnival talc battle.

In the municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane, and the rest of the island, talc is thrown spontaneously and as a surprise, whether the victim is known to the thrower or not.  In 1993 the old tradition of  Las Viejas a Caballota was added to the official programme.  These are costumes which one person wears, to look like a young man riding piggyback on an old woman.  They dance a grotesque polka composed by Palmeran  Juan García.

More information: www.lapalmaturismo.com

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