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Experience the Crosses and Fires of May 2nd and 3rd

A spectacle for the senses, a ceremony rooted in over 250 years of history. Living the Crosses and Fires of May in Los Realejos means connecting with the history of a town, its landscapes, and its way of viewing the world.


A proverb says that we should not assert anything we believe to be false, nor speak of something without sufficient evidence. That's why I dare to recount everything I have seen and felt without fear of contradicting the truth.

And it's that my eyes saw, still blinded by the artifice of the fire. And my ears heard, even amidst the thunder that shattered the night. I recognized the scent of the orchid emerging from other aromas, of fruits and flowers.

I walked through the streets, and hundreds of adorned crosses came across my path. They led me to the upper streets, where I found the hands of the finest artisans. Beauty enveloped me in silks and organdy, and I traveled to the childhood of my mother and my grandmothers.

From above, I observed my town brimming with colors, celebrating May 3rd. A united community rejoicing in life and the pride of tradition. Owners of the festival with absolute right, guardians of their past, and with their gaze set on the future.

fuegos copia (Thomas Saul)

A Challenge of Fires

As soon as the month of May begins, the residents of El Sol Street and El Medio Street start to prepare. The challenge of one is answered by the other, launching into the air the most colorful and resounding fireworks festival that can be seen. After the rivalry, there are no wounded or victors, as everyone believes they have won, and the celebration starts equally on both sides.

Holy Timber

If the cemetery's dragon tree could speak, it would tell us the story of that holy timber that arrived on the island after the conquest of Tenerife. The timber that inaugurated the first Christian temple. Perhaps that was the beginning, over four hundred years ago. I have no memory of the dragon tree, but I do carry its northern blood, and I can speak of the 300 crosses being adorned in April, reaching their peak splendor in May.

Magical Realism

Experiencing the Realejo festival is to grasp the fervor between neighbors of different streets. It is joining their joyful struggle until the exhaustion of noise. It is being moved by a community that comes together to recreate one of its oldest celebrations, and being transported to the magical realism that flows from a primitive timber to the most spectacular fireworks display.

The sun enters through the glassed balcony of my house in Los Realejos. It's May 3rd, and the aroma of flowers has been filling the streets for days. Hundreds of adorned crosses serve as reminders of ephemeral works of art, intricately woven by the hands of my neighbors.

Antiquity and Heritage

A festival that connects us with a century-old past

On July 25, 1496, the feast day of Apostle James, chance led the Castilian soldiers to declare the conquest of Tenerife complete. To commemorate the victory, the first Christian church on the island was built, named in honor of the Apostle. The temple has grown and improved over the centuries, becoming the beautiful historical and artistic monument it is today, adorned with unique Canarian Baroque altarpieces, a national heritage.
The legend tells that back in 1666, a rider was crossing the ravine of Pago de la Higa —formerly known as Cruz Santa— when his horse abruptly stopped and refused to move forward. Annoyed, the owner urged the horse on, which eventually threw him off the saddle. As the rider recovered from the fall, he noticed the horse digging in the ground. From among the stones, a wooden cross emerged, and deeply moved by the event, the landowner decided to build a chapel in that very spot: the Montículo de la Suerte.
In 1770, the residents of El Sol Street and El Medio Street engaged in a pitched battle on Cruz Day. El Sol was home to farmers and sharecroppers, while El Medio housed landowners. The two sides, representing different social classes, competed to offer the most lively and spectacular festivity. This rivalry culminated in the celebration of 'la papada': a feast of eating, drinking, and dancing, with everyone toasting to life. This contest has enhanced the artistic value of the festival, ensuring its continuity and tradition.

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Get ready to relive the grand celebration of the May Crosses and Fires Festival.

Flowers and Friendship

‘It's a feeling that starts from childhood,’ a fellow villager tells me as he arranges the handmade wicker baskets filled with fruits and vegetables. Everything in my town exudes tradition and culture.

Flowers and Aromas

I arrive at the neighborhood of La Cruz Santa and pause to admire the floral monuments that accompany each cross. They peek out from gateways adorned with anthuriums, orchids, kalanchoes, giant roses... I am moved to discover in every corner the effort and solidarity of my neighbors, united in complete coordination and friendship, each fulfilling their mission regardless of age or profession. The streets are adorned to make everything look even more beautiful.

Guava Pastries

I walk into a café for breakfast. The waiter knows me and greets me with open arms as a sign of welcome. I sit at a table with a newspaper and wait for a pair of guava pastries and a bowl of milk to be brought to me. The recipe for these pastries is centuries-old.

Jeweler's Filigree

I approach Calle de El Sol and cross over to El Medio Street. In both, I remain silent before the beauty of their crosses. Adorned with the skill of an expert jeweler, the filigree of their braids appears like paintings exuding the scents of a fiery spring. The cool breeze then leads me to continue my journey back home.

The first resounding impacts can already be heard...

Gunpowder, Noise, and Color

A whistle rises to the sky. Second explosion. The sky is painted with bursts of colors and artificial stars. The entire village and all its visitors gaze at the sky, absorbed and slightly stunned by the noise. In rival streets, some can't contain their excitement.

Applause can be heard, lasting almost three hours. Los Realejos is now one of the finest pyrotechnic shows in Europe.

The celebration begins!

One Year of Work

This is a celebration of the community, funded by the local residents. Both young and old dedicate themselves enthusiastically throughout the year to beautify the streets and showcase the essence of this welcoming place, proud of its culture. That's why both associations consist of people from the town, who selflessly uphold a centuries-old tradition.

Continuity and Tradition

Now, the residents of both streets have leveled their social differences, keeping the 'rivalry' alive as an excuse to engage in friendly competition. Thus, as soon as the festival ends, they dive into planning all the preparations for the following year. A celebration created by the community, deeply rooted in popular culture.

National Tourist Interest

With over 250 years of history, this festival is already known in many corners of Spain. Since 2015, it has been declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest, attracting more tourists every year. In May, excitement fills Los Realejos, and its festival is a pure devotion to life, thanks to the dedication of its residents.

Prepare for the Journey

Those who are unfamiliar with this story should come to the town of all festivals in May. Feel the pulse of the crosses along the royal paths, whether they're embedded in the ground or resting in the hermitages, covered by silk shrouds that allow the candlelight to shine through. To immerse yourself in the Crosses and Fires of May Festival in Los Realejos, your suitcase can be empty, but your heart should not.