Fiesta in San Antonio

Blessing the cattle at San Antonio del Monte, Garafia, La Palma island
Blessing the cattle at San Antonio del Monte, Garafia

The biggest cattle fair and country market on La Palma will be held at San Antonio del Monte this weekend, in honour of St Anthony of Padua.

About three hundred years ago, San Antonio was one of the biggest villages in Garafia, but the people gradually moved away. Now there’s just a pretty little church, a house where pilgrims used to stay and for one weekend a year, a massive fair. Apart from the animals, there’s a craft fair, and of course lots of music and dancing, and lots of stalls selling cheap toys, food and drink.

You can see photos of last year’s fiesta here.
SATURDAY
The craft fair opens at 11 am, in the old pilgrims’ house.

At 12:00 there’s a sheep dog competition.

At 1 pm there’s the mass, followed by a procession. I think they’ll take the statue of the saint to bless the animals.

There’ll be music for most of the afternoon, starting with puntos cubanos (Cuban music with improvised words, usually stuffed full of double entendres and innuendo. Wonderful if your Spanish is up to it.) The main dancing will get started at 8 pm. The programme doesn’t say when it ends, but when I still worked at the observatory, I remember you could just hear the music and it went on until about 3 am. Quite a lot of young people camp nearby, so they can stay late and start again early.

SUNDAY

10:30 the music starts again.
11:00 the craft fair and chess tournament open.
12:00 mass, followed by a procession
Music all afternoon.
6:30 pm Another mass.
7 pm more music and dancing.

If you go, be sure to take both sun cream and a jumper: most years the clouds blow in and out and you could get sunburn and a cold in rapid succession. You will also want comfortable shoes as you may need to park some distance from the fairground. And decide who’s driving in advance – there are plenty of free samples of wine and cheese.

There’s also a smaller fiesta in San Antonio in Breña Baja, just uphill from Los Cancajos.

SATURDAY
7 pm Puppet theatre in the village centre.
9 pm Sun Mass followed by a procession
11 pm public dance in the courtyard of the Youth Club. (Head for the church tower, and you’ll find it nearby)

SUNDAY
5:30 pm Bouncy castles in the village centre.
8:30 Sung Mass followed by a procession

Enjoy!

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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