The holidaymakers (British I’d say at a guess) were dressed to the nines for a Saturday night on the town. They’d obviously heard about the Noche en Blanco in Puerto de la Cruz and were heading in to town from the La Paz district of the town for what promised to be a night of eclectic fun.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. A coach pulled up and the Saturday nighters piled on. A sign in the window identified its destination; ‘Castillo San Miguel’ – venue for a mock medieval evening ninety minutes away in the south of the island.
There was a humongous party taking place in the town they were staying in and they were heading away from the action. Incredible. To be fair it probably wasn’t their fault. Tour companies can be quite adept at not sharing information of ‘free local festivals’.
As their coach headed to the ‘night-life’ centre of the south of Tenerife, our bus headed to the tranquil centre of Puerto de la Cruz where we met up with our friend Sue who’s visiting from London and having an ‘interesting’ time in her hotel (more of that in a later blog). We began our first tour of the 14 town centre venues where 70+ events were due to take place between 6pm and 2am the following morning.
The idea of Noche en Blanco is to attract people into the town (that one clearly went over the heads of the tour reps) via live music, theatre, dance, fun events for the children etc, etc. As well as entertainment, there were artisan stalls and shops were given licence to stay open till 2am when the festival closed.
It sounded good on paper, but the reality totally blew away expectation.
Plaza Charco was set up for the younger children with pony rides and puppet shows. The next generation up were catered for at El Muelle. Thumping dance music from the Fiesta Sin Alcohol (specially for 13 to 17 year olds) turned the harbour into an open air rave and must have shocked the hell out of first time visitors expecting the tranquil town that so many often describe Puerto as in various forums. Local Indie bands outside Casa Aduana on the other side of the harbour gave the teens a run for their money in the volume stakes, attracting a slightly older audience of music lovers who prefer their music live and slightly more raucous. Anytime Baby were the clear winners of the bad boys award of the night with their leathers and studs. Just to prove it conclusively, the lead singer would take occasional swigs from a Jägermeister bottle offered by pogo-ing fans bouncing off the stage at his feet.
Next on the tour was Plaza Europa where scantily clad dancers (the girls looked sexy, the men in sheer, see-through tops only managed effete) performed risqué Bob Fosse-esque numbers.
A few yards further on and a local band had set up an impromptu fringe stage at the mirador looking towards Lago Martiánez where there was an urban fashion show and a classic car exhibition. But we were thirsty and peckish, so we headed back along Calle Quintana to Plaza Iglesia where there were artisan stalls and a display of iron sculptures for sale from €40 or so.
‘They’re cheap,’ announced Sue almost at the same moment I said ‘They’re expensive.’
She lives in London, I’m Scottish, hence the different view. But she was right; they were original and unique works of art, I was just being tight.
A couple of stalls further on and we hit the jackpot. Local wine (a very decent glass full) and a plate of papas bonitas (the proper tiny scrumptious local potatoes) with mojos for €1.50 per person. A perfect pit stop.
From then on the night sort of sashayed by as we toured continually (save for the occasional refreshment stop). It was essential as the acts at each venue kept changing every half hour or so. By the time we retraced our steps to Plaza del Charco, passing a Brazilian Samba band, a jazz singer, computer games in a tent, clowns on stilts and an African band, the scene had changed from puppets to a youth theatre company performing quite hard-hitting cautionary tales to dance. One was a surprisingly emotional morality tale about drug addiction set to Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart (a choice that could have easily killed the impact but for the talent of the young female dancer).
As is so often the case, time slipped through our fingers in Puerto and by the time we’d seen off another glass of wine at a super-stylish new viñateca just after Nicotine Swing finished a set in Plaza Reyes Católicos and then took a tour of the ‘end of Noche en Blanco fiesta’ in Lago Martiánez it was near 2am.
Although Noche en Blanco wound down at that time, Puerto was set to party for many hours more. The streets were still filled with happy, smiling people; many dressed in white to compliment the event.
It was a wonderful night with too many things to fit into the one blog and a reminder why Puerto de la Cruz is still referred to as Tenerife’s sophisticated resort. It was one of those nights that reminded us why we chose this as a place to live.
I hope nobody tells the crew who went to Castillo San Miguel what they missed.