One of the major symbols of identity of the island of Gran Canaria is, without a doubt, la Fiesta de La Rama in Agaete. This is the main fiesta of the town in honour of Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows), which was declared a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest in 1972.
August 5th is the main fiesta in honour of the Virgin Mary, but it is the day before, August 4th, when the Fiesta de La Rama is held, when thousands of dancers go through the town waving palm branches in the air, to the rhythm of the two municipal bands, as far as the sanctuary of la Virgen de Las Nieves.
La Fiesta de La Rama, according to those who have studied it, may have a similar meaning to the rain dance ceremony of the native Canary Islands inhabitants who brought palm branches down from the mountain of Tirma with which to hit the sea while they sang songs asking God for rain. In the modern-day Fiesta de la Rama of Agaete the branches are not used for hitting the sea, but are offered to the Virgin Mary.
The second major fiesta of the municipality is held on the 8th of December: Fiestas de la Concepción. This is the parish fiesta. LasFiestas de San Pedro are held on June 29th in el Valle de Agaete, and here also the central part of the events is the Bajada de La Rama from el Pinar de Tamadaba to the district of San Pedro on June 28th.
The Carnivals are also a great tradition in the municipality, with the Burial of the Sardine as their highlight.
The large number of archaeological sites located in Agaete confirm its importance in terms of the existence of major Pre-Hispanic settlements prior to the conquest of Gran Canaria at the end of the fifteenth century, when there was a major invasion through Puerto de Las Nieves with the purpose of finishing off the conquest of the northern area of the island.
After the conquest, which ended in 1483, Don Alonso Fernández de Lugo was made governor of Agaete and administrator of the area. Dedication to la Virgen de las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows), whose religious statue was brought by Fernández de Lugo himself, would later provide the name of the place, Puerto de Las Nieves.
The new economic order established in the area by the planting of grapevines, as well as the powerful sugar mills, allowed for the rapid populating of the area, and connected Puerto de Las Nieves with the European markets. From the sixteenth century, Agaete was an obligatory port of call for ships on route to the north of Europe.
After this period of splendour, Agaete underwent a crisis in sugar exports which lasted two centuries, up to the nineteenth century, when Agaete once again had another grand era of commercial splendour, due in particular to the introduction of cochineal and the tomato. In addition, the building of the dock enhanced trade with the rest of the islands.
The municipality of Agaete is in the Northeast area of the island of Gran Canaria. It has a total surface area of 45.50 square kilometres, and the town centre is at an altitude of 43 metres above sea level.
In spite of its limited surface area, the topography of Agaete is, in general, very abrupt. There are three main geographical basins: El Risco, Guayedra, and Agaete, with a maximum altitude of 1180 metres in the peaks area of el Pinar de Tamadaba.
Agaete does not receive the trade winds due to its geographic location and the fact that it faces northwest. Therefore, the annual rainfall in Agaete is very low but there are almost 2.400 hours of sun per year, guaranteeing a pleasantly warm climate. This is the reason why it is one of the most visited municipalities in the northern area of the island.
Until the nineteenth century, the economic base of Agaete was agricultural production and the exporting of these products. These days, activities of the tertiary sector are predominant, such as the hospitality sector and restaurants. This is mainly due to the major development of tourism in the island of Gran Canaria in recent years. Nonetheless, in spite of the lack of water, agriculture and livestock raising still have an important role in the economy of the municipality.
Estates producing tropical fruit, coffee and oranges are the mainstay of the primary sector. In terms of livestock, the making of goat cheese according to traditional methods is the main activity.