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Gran Canaria

This island is a non-stop celebration

El Pino, the festival at the heart of Gran Canaria

The ancient chronicles tell of an image of the Virgin that suddenly appeared, with no prior warning, in Teror. The town of Teror, towards the end of the 15th century, was a far off place, trapped within dense laurel forests. It was for this reason that this great event gave the town an enchanted feel, a seal of quality which 500 years on still catches the imagination of the islanders.

Wood in the interior of Gran Canaria
Panoramic views of the municipality of Teror

The image of the Virgin appeared in a flash, above a giant pine tree that grew in the main square of the town, and soon after settled in the hermitage of Santa María de Therore. The giant pine tree decided to move on, leaving a great storm in its wake. But the cult of the Virgin was kept alive and spread to the four corners of the island.

Two centuries later, Teror had become an important cult centre in Gran Canaria. When September arrived, while the moon was at its closest to the earth, the islanders would fill their backpacks with their belongings and make their way on foot to Teror.

A group of people draped in typical clothing dance in the Festival of El Pino
A group of people draped in typical clothing dance in the Festival of El Pino

They would normally travel in any old shoes, which were then put away and replaced by new ones once they reached the town. The pilgrims – the great great grandfathers of the present day faithful travellers-, set out with little more than the clothes on their back, to the hallways and patios in the houses that were open to the faithful and provided them with shelter.

Today the ancient pilgrims have become “romero” travelers, who keep the walkers’ tradition alive, making up a bright choreography of roads laden with fruits taken as offerings to the Virgin of El Pino. Thousands of Canarians come from all over the archipielago, with the characteristic whistle calls from El Hierro and “chácaras” castanets from La Gomera also in the catalogue, making their way to Teror, at the time when the sea tides are at their highest.

A group of people draped in typical clothing dance in the Festival of El Pino

The town welcomes them with decked-out balconies and bright lights, and lays on a festival programme for them, deeply rooted in tradition. Great beasts can be seen pulling wooden wheel chariots along, and dancing displays by folkloric groups who criss-cross with great music festivals. On the 7th September, at four o’clock in the afternoon, the herd of sheep which traditionally opens the pilgrimage awakens with a chorus of cowbells and shepherds’ whistles. Just behind, 21 large groups strive to raise the bar of their town to be the highest mark in this exhibition of lavish devotion.

A couple having a rest next to the fountain in Teror
A cuddling couple walk down the streets of Teror

The powerful artistic display of the pilgrimage takes on a format of splendour. The flow of colours pass through the streets of the town, ending in a photo finish in calle Real and the plaza del Pino square, one of the architectural landmarks of the most authentic Gran Canaria. Not in vain, the basilica here is a national monument, just like almost all the people. A people worth catching a glimpse of throughout the year, not only during the Festival of El Pino, a festival in the heart of Gran Canaria.

Fiesta del Pino
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