07 and 08 October – Inmaculada Concepcion, Santo Domingo, Garafia. Kart racing, 4 x 4 on the challenging purpose-built course in the town plus inflatables for the children and live music and dancing in the day and evening.
October – Nuestra Senora del Rosario, Our Lady of the Rosary, Barlovento. During the day/s there are inflatables for the children, free of charge. Also the Tagarage Trail cross country running which is called A Run for All. The toughest ones are 16k, 25k with ‘significant’ ascents, also a 16k and 8k race and then a 3k, 1k and 750m for the littlies. In the evening, a local theatre group puts on a play and on the final Saturday, live music and dancing.
01 November – Todos los Santos, All Saint’s Day. All the cemeteries around the island are adorned with flowers in memory of those who have passed away. Whilst there might be a few tears shed, it is also very much a celebration of life and it’s not uncommon for there to be singing between a small group of ladies as they trim and place the flowers.
11 November, Fiesta de San Martin. Wine cellars are opened to the public and dinners or fiestas are organised with plenty of wine, chestnuts and grilled pork fat.
Christmas time in general – various celebrations around the island and special mass. The Belen (Nativity Scenes) are nothing short of a passion with every town and village or even hamlet making their own little or large scene. In the towns and cities of Los Llanos and Santa Cruz, these are available to see at certain hours either in the main church or Town Hall.
The nativity scene is usually of a miniature village with tiny houses, complete with a rock or two on the roof. And there might be caves for the peasants, goats grazing, a natural spring and of course Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
25 December – Navidad/Christmas is a Public Holiday and family time and in general, everything is closed although you might find the occasional bar/café open, but not many.
31 December – Año Nuevo/New Year. Before midnight, there is live music in the bigger towns or cities. As midnight, younger people emerge looking beautiful in their ball gowns or tuxedos. When the church bells begin with the first chimes for midnight, the tradition everywhere on the island is for a grape to be eaten at each of the 12 chimes. For this reason, you’ll see plenty of grapes for sale in the shops – I suggest you buy seedless ones if you’re to have a chance of eating one every second!
However, many people will celebrate the turn of the year in their homes with family and then only emerge after midnight. As somebody once said to us when we commented it was a fairly quiet occasion in one of the smaller towns where we had gone to celebrate but went home at 12.30am, ‘Oh it doesn’t get going until 4 in the morning!