Celebrating the Fiesta de San Abad on Tenerife in Pictures

Celebrating San Abad on Tenerife is one of those quirky traditions we look forward to every year. Normally we pick up our friend Bob and head up into the hills to La Matanza.

This year we decided it was time for a change and instead of heading upwards, turned westward along the coast to Buenavista del Norte. In terms of animals, Buenavista’s San Abad celebrations are a poor relation to La Matanza’s with only a fraction of the oxen, goats and horses you find on show in the northern hill town. But in many ways it’s more accessible for visitors. There’s more of a party atmosphere and where La Matanza’s fiesta is focussed around the church, making the streets congested, Buenavista’s is spread out between a field behind the town and the main plaza.

Bob, being a La Matanza fan, wasn’t sure about the change of venue at first. But as the day progressed, he warmed to the different San Abad scene.

Dancers from El Hierro

El Hierro Dancers, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte,
One of the quirks of the San Abad Fiesta in Buenavista del Norte is that the dancers who accompany the statue of San Abad as he travels up to the field where the animals gather and then back to town again are from El Hierro. Their traditional costumes and music are quite different from Tenerife’s. Men and women dancers wear the same outfit – a better deal for the women I think.

Blessing of the Animals

Blessing the animals, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
San Abad is all about blessing the animals. The local priest wanders through the crowd blessing all the critters he passes, not always an act that is appreciated.

Hiding of the Animals

Cat on a Hot Tile Roof, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Some animals (cats of course) give the whole scene a body swerve and keep hidden well away lest some mad guy in a white robe tries to throw water over them (their interpretation not mine).

Food Stop

Pinchos, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Where Buenavista wins out over La Matanza is in the food stakes. There are loads of kiosks, guachinches and bars, each offering cheap vino del pais (country wine) and spicy pinchos (pork kebabs). After a tour of the field and the plaza, the smell of pinchos sizzling on a barbecue is too much to resist. The ones from the kiosk in the centre of Buenavista’s plaza are exceptional – so much so that Bob went back for more five times during the course of the day.

Prize Animals

Prizes, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Trophies are awarded for the best in each animal category at the San Abad celebrations. The dogs are less keen on the trophies and more interested in these particular prizes.

Animal Parade

Lunch Break for Goats, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
After the animals have been judged, they’re driven through the town to collect their prizes outside of the church. These are always stop-start affairs giving the goats a chance to have an impromptu lunch whilst they wait.

Cats Don’t Mix

Taking a Cat to San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
There are more domestic animals at Buenavista del Norte than at La Matanza but cats just are not social creatures. The expression on this guy’s face just reinforces that bringing your cat to one of these shindigs isn’t a smart idea… unless you’ve clipped their claws first.

Let’s Get this Party Started

Romeria, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
Once the animals start their parade, everyone else joins in behind them and assorted floats, folk bands and local guys and gals wearing colourful traditional dress start a street party that ends up in the plaza.

Cool or Cruel?

Dogs in Traditional Costume, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
The trend at Buenavista is to dress up the pets, sometimes to ridiculous levels. I can just imagine these two muttering ‘hope the grandpups never get to see photos of us looking like this.’

Just Plain Odd

Snake Bracelet, San Abad, Buenavista del Norte, Tenerife
One of the fun parts at Buenavista is looking out for the more unusual San Abad revellers. A chicken in a cart and a tortoise in Tupperware were two of the more amusing sights this year. Hardest to spot was this snakeskin bracelet – the ultimate in San Abad fashion accessories.

The Fiesta of San Abad take place in Buenavista del Norter and La Matanza on the same Sunday each January. Some websites (even the municipality’s) will tell you that it takes place on the third sunday of January.  But this is not always the case, especially if the month starts on a Sunday.

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