Fuerteventura’s festivals are set according to different calendars, such as agricultural, religious and pagan celebrations. The agricultural calendar sets the festivals with the end of the harvest or the beginning of good weather. The religious calendar is determined by the Catholic Church, highlighting Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi, etc. Added to this calendar is the festivity of the patron saint of the town, such as La Virgen de la Peña, San Isidro, La Virgen del Carmen, etc.
Most of the patron saint festivities of Fuerteventura are linked to the protection of the Majorero fields from the plagues that devastated the island, and as prayers to the Saints so that they grant abundant fishing in the Canarian fishing grounds. They also asked for the fishermen and sailors to return safe and sound.
Well, we must not forget that many other patron saint festivities include the ritual inherited from paganism, such as the Nights of San Juan, Carnival, San Antón and La Candelaria.
Among the patron saint celebrations related to the sea, the one that arouses the most prominence and fervor in Fuerteventura is, without a doubt, the one that is held in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. There are many fishing villages where these festivals are lived with true devotion.
Virgen del Carmen patron saint of sailors
From the Franco-Norman conquest and the subsequent Castilian colonization, until well into the 19th century, the patron saints of Canarian sailors were San Telmo and the Virgen del Buen Viaje.
After a huge storm that occurred in the summer of 1845 that almost swallowed the English ship ‘Ocean’s King’ the Virgen del Carmen began to be taken as the patron saint of navigators. It is said that her crew was saved thanks to a sailor throwing a scapular of the Virgin, which he wore around his neck, into the sea. At that moment the storm calmed down. There was only one more wave, the one in charge of returning the scapular to the ship. Since then, the devotion to the Virgen del Carmen as the patron saint of sailors became even more popular.
Festivities of the Virgen del Carmen in Fuerteventura
On July 16, the festival of the Virgen del Carmen, patron saint of fishermen and sailors, is celebrated. On an island surrounded by the wild Atlantic, such as Fuerteventura, various towns and neighborhoods turn to this devotion. In them it is typical to make a maritime-terrestrial procession with the image of the Virgin. That day the shores of the towns are packed with people waiting for the arrival of the Virgin. Each Brotherhood, and each town, has its tradition and customs. But, if there is something that characterizes all of them, it is the large number of residents and tourists who go into the sea when the Virgin does so. It doesn’t matter if the water is a little cooler than normal, or if there are waves, it’s all about being a first-row witness to an event that only happens once a year.
The coast is filled with processions in which hundreds of faithful accompany their Virgin. First they do it through the streets of the town, from their sanctuary to the pier, and later through the waters near the town, in beautifully decorated boats.
You can enjoy the Fiestas del Carmen, from north to south of the island, in the following locations.
This festivities are among the most popular on the island. July 16 is the main day of its patron saint festivities. The Muelle Chico beach fills with people from noon waiting for the arrival of the Virgin by sea.
In Puerto del Rosario
Every year the neighborhood of Carmen in the capital of Fuerteventura celebrates the festivities in honor of its patron saint with a traditional maritime-terrestrial procession. It is usually celebrated on the Sunday following July 16 in the afternoon, after mass. The image of the Virgin is taken from the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary to the Crucero dock.
There the boarding is carried out with a floral offering to the sailors who have disappeared at sea. The procession, accompanied by the band of bugles and drums of the Soria Infantry Regiment No. 9, makes an emotional stop in the Barrio del Carmen.
Los Molinos also has the Virgen del Carmen as its patron saint. If you want to discover this town in all its splendor, come on July 16.
in the Salinas
The coastal town of Las Salinas, belonging to the municipality of Antigua, celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. Although July 16 is the day of the patron saint, the procession is usually held the following Sunday. This is done to ensure the highest possible attendance. In this year of 2022 the procession will take place on July 17 from 1:30 p.m.
That day the women of Las Salinas, dressed in the old style, are in charge of carrying the image of the Virgin from her temple to the beach itself, where she is embarked on a decorated felucca. At the end of the seafaring procession, through the bay of Las Salinas, the Virgen del Carmen is carried again by the women to a stage set up near the beach, where the offering takes place.
Giniginamar, belonging to the municipality of Tuineje, is another of the towns that celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. The land-sea procession takes place from 7 pm, after the Solemn Eucharist in Honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
In Morro Jable
In the municipality of Pájara, Morro Jable is the town that celebrates the festivities in honor of the Virgen del Carmen. On July 16, the image of the Virgin is transferred from the church to the Sebada beach. There she is embarked and paraded through the bay. She is always accompanied by numerous boats that sound their horns in gratitude for the Patron Saint’s protection of the men of the sea.