La Rama, Gran Canaria’s great dance party

The fiesta of La Rama de Agaete, in Gran Canaria, provides great fun thanks to an age-old tradition here at this stunning corner of the island.

Just listen. That’s the sound of silence and hushed emotions. Just minutes before five o’clock in the morning, the silvery light of the growing moon is etched over the sea, blending in with the night time shadows that reign over the plunging cliff edges, and –further up- in the pine groves. Down at the village of Agaete, the expectant and murmuring crowds are just waiting for something to happen. What might it be? The answer is La Diana, a firework that rips through the early morning calm at 05.00  to announce the start of the great fiesta day of La Rama de Agaete, in Gran Canaria, as it does every 4th August.

Views of Agaete from Tamadaba, in Gran Canaria

The explosion of the firework up into the dawn sky to signal the start of the fiesta is greeted by loud cheers and the heady melodies of the local band. It is time to let yourself be carried along by the music and become another link in the human chain, eager to enjoy one of the most popular and widely supported festive events, not only in Gran Canaria but in the Canaries as a whole.

Celebrations of La Rama, next to the Hermitage of Las Nieves, in Agaete. Gran Canaria

The day has duly arrived with you hardly noticing it. It is now the turn for the sun to spread out its luminous empire, affording views over the human waves  and giving us the opportunity to take in the extraordinary setting that is La Rama. We look down towards the interior, a deep and fertile valley filled to the brim with fruit trees, coffee plants and tropical crops. Then all this beauty opens up into the sea into which the ravines plunge, with the same impetus as the kids as they dive head first from the dock, all through the year. It is now the perfect moment to get our strength back and breathe in the pure air that oozes the essence of both the land and the ocean.

The name of the fiesta did not come about by chance, not at all. The rama, or branch, is the star of the show. The route starts off without them, at 10.00 in the morning, but it doesn’t take long to appear.

The poster for the Fiestas of Las Nieves 2017, Agaete. Gran Canaria
Valley of Agaete, on the island of Gran Canaria

The branches obtained by the Town Hall of Agaete are deposited in the aptly named street called Callejón de la Rama, where you can pick up yours and dance along with it. Indeed La Rama is all about movement, a ritual which connects you to nature and the history of this quite unrivalled location, which for a day at least becomes a mobile forest, inhabited by giants in the form of the over-sized papagüevos heads. And now you too are part of this happy bustle.

Celebrations of the Fiesta of La Rama, in Agaete, Gran Canaria
Agaete, Gran Canaria

La Rama is on the move. La Rama ends a day with a difference. All the participants fuse into one single green maze that snakes its way down to the coast. And you will feel right at home here. “The village locals are very hospitable and welcome all those who come along to enjoy La Rama”, explains Isabel del Rosario, the Fiestas Councillor at the Town Hall of Agaete, who also stresses the “legendary” character associated to the fiesta, linked according to some theories to the traditions of the ancient dwellers on Gran Canaria.

Celebrations of La Rama in Agaete, Gran Canaria
Agaete, Gran Canaria

Down below, the village keeps the fiesta coals smouldering. Up in the sky, the stars remain on their normal course. Now at night time, from 22.00 onwards, the retreat, or La Retreta, kicks off. For this year’s event a municipal children’s workshop has been set up specifically to recreate the shapes of the old street lights and lanterns, which are an integral part of Agaete’s historic heritage. Their light, alongside the sparkling fireworks, penetrate through the darkness pointing the way for the revellers to follow. The moon sits there unperturbed, maintaining its growing phase for another night.

Agaete, Gran Canaria