Autumn light wraps around Gran Canaria like a clear veil. The season has arrived on the island with customary calm. The winds have been tamed and the sky’s an intense blue, almost as if somebody painted it during summer whilst nobody was looking.
But make no mistake. On Gran Canaria, autumn is different. Holidaymakers continue to sunbathe on the beaches and the sun extends its luminous reign while the rest of Europe starts to suffer its first cold snaps.
The purity and stillness of the autumnal air allows us to see further than usual, revealing unexpected details in Gran Canaria’s beautiful, curvy silhouette. Although sight is not the only sense subtly touched by autumn’s fingers, as something in the island’s lukewarm atmosphere whispers in our ear that it is already autumn.
Seasons come and seasons go on Gran Canaria, but to the uninitiated every day feels like spring on the island. The subtle differences lie in the nuances. In autumn’s case, nature’s hand intensifies the brightness and vivid colours of Gran Canaria’s palette.
The island’s sunsets and sunrises are so beautiful. Each day says hello and then bades farewell with a festival of yellow, red, orange, and violet lights. The Canarian modernist poet Tomás Morales captured the season perfectly when he wrote of the "golden afternoon in autumn" in one of the verses of 'The Roses of Hercules'.
Gran Canaria’s autumn brings hustle and bustle to the island. In the midlands, in the heart of the magical laurel forest, the stems and leaves of the Canary bellflower turn green. Later, this endemic flora will blossom; announcing winter’s arrival.
Right now, flocks of migratory birds cross Europe to escape the cold and take refuge in the coasts, wetlands and marshes of Gran Canaria. They, like tourists, seek the warmth of the island. Its sounds and splashes are the instruments which make up autumn’s soundtrack, along with the bleating of sheep and the voices and whistles of the shepherds as they guide their flocks to the grazing areas.
Autumn, like any other season in Gran Canaria, offers something for everyone. The coast continues to look its best and proves irresistible for swimmers. Head away from the blue ocean for a contrast in colour as the island turns green.
In deepest autumn, Gran Canaria smells of chestnuts, watercress stews cooked in roadside restaurants awaiting hungry travellers, and the smoked cheeses of taverns. What’s more, all paths lead directly to the place where the friendly spirit of autumn resides.
Autumn brings to the table a round of local cider as toasts are raised to the present and future. On Sunday, October 2nd, Valleseco celebrate the Apple Festival. This fruit is a local symbol and the prevailing variety, the Reinette du Canada, was introduced in the mid-19th century to make use of the municipality’s wastelands.
Autumn also invites seclusion. October 31st sees locals celebrating the night of the 'finaos' which recaptures the tradition of meeting at home, doors closed, to remember and tell stories of relatives who roasted chestnuts, shelled almonds, and cut the kernels off corn.
Autumn swims like a fish and soars like a bird. At night, we look up to take in the season’s extraordinary skies. Gran Canaria’s ancient inhabitants were fascinated by celestial observation and practised various rites linked to the position of the sun, moon and stars and also the equinoxes and solstices, including, of course, autumn. Centuries later, the natives continue to glare.
This century-old connection between the inhabitants of the island and astronomical cycles has been etched into Gran Canaria’s fabric. A clear example of this lies at the foot of Roque de Bentayga, the spectacular basaltic edifice that rises to 1,404 meters inside Tejeda’s volcanic cauldron. There, dug into the rock, is an engraved circle less than one metre in diameter marking the point from which to contemplate the light of the autumn equinox, resulting in a wonderful play of light and shadow on this emblematic enclave.
Video: Autumn Warmth in Gran Canaria
The message, in short, is written on a perfect sky with golden letters: it is autumn, the season where everything changes without us hardly realizing. Well, it’s hard to do so as the parasols continue to line the island’s beaches.