The bright Gran Canaria night skies

The great firework display at San Lorenzo is one of Gran Canaria’s major summer festivals.

There exists a place in Gran Canaria that emulates a volcano every August. Surrounded by mountains, the neighbourhood of San Lorenzo, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, burns hundreds of kilos of gunpowder to set the night alight, and is famous for its intensity and duration. This particular eruption has several focal points that surround the town, and attracts tens of thousands of people year after year, who come along to experience this vibrant spectacle of light, fire and sound.

Firework display at the Fiestas of San Lorenzo, Gran Canaria
Firework display at the Fiestas of San Lorenzo, Gran Canaria

This huge firework display will take place in the early hours of the 9th to 10th August, corresponding with the commemoration of the martyr of the same name. Fireworks night in San Lorenzo is not easily forgotten. Thousands of rockets are set off from points that look like burning holes that resemble hell itself, lighting up the night sky. This fire and noise ritual will leave you rooted to the spot as you gaze up, transfixed, and watch this star-studded show.

The watching public will have no idea as to which rocket will provide the final crescendo to the dazzling display. When the explosions and twinkling light show are finally over, massive applause breaks out among the crowd while the night air is empregnated with the odour of burnt gunpowder. The aftermath of the event looks like a post battle scene. What actually emerges, however, is a village that bursts into a fiesta, at a tiny corner of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which wears its most rural party dress.

San Lorenzo Market in Gran Canaria

San Lorenzo indeed has a farming soul, as born out by its history and tradition. This is clearly prevalent at its weekly Sunday market that opens from 08.00 and 13.30 and which provides a true gift for the senses. Cheeses, fruits, vegetables, savoury olives, potatoes and fresh oven baked bread go hand in hand with a further thousand and one gastronomical delights, to make up a fine Sunday larder which puts in its usual appearance even during festivities.

The fiesta de San Lorenzo is not just any old fiesta, let alone its great firework night. This is underlined by the town crier for 2017’s event, Juan José Laforet, an Adopted Son of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and official chronicler of the city. The historian still has vivid images of his grandfather dressed up to the nines as he went along with the throngs of revellers to this exceptional display. Today the event is an essential fiesta for thousands of people.

Starlit skies in Gran Canaria
Starlit skies in Gran Canaria

One of the main events on the calendar will once again be provided by the Grand Drag Queen Gala, held on Friday 4th August, kicking off at ten o’clock in the evening. This is followed on Saturday, 5th August, by the pilgrimage, which begins at 6 o’clock in the afternoon. This provides a forerunner to the magical firework display that same night, which comes just a couple of days before the peak moment of the phenomenon called the Tears of San Lorenzo, the name given to the Perseidas, which reaches a crescendo between the 11th and 13th August.

The Tears of San Lorenzo occur when the Earth’s trajectory crosses the trail left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet as it passes through. At this time, particles the size of a grain of sand collide with the terrestrial atmosphere at a speed of over 200,000 kilometres per hour, and desintegrate in a split second, causing a bright zooming path as a last testimony of its existence. Down on planet Earth, in Spain, specifically at the mountain folds of San Lorenzo, people will be out trying to catch a glimpse of this stellar event. For some, looking up at the sky is a healthy habit.