Los Indianos – how the carnival is celebrated on the island of La Palma

One of Spain’s best-loved fiestas, the carnival, is about to take place! Just like every year, it’s a time for colour, music, festivities and above all, having a great time.

They know a lot about this in the Canary Islands, where the carnival has a very important place in their hearts and their traditions.

Today we will be taking a look at a celebration that is perhaps not so well known to the rest of the world: Los Indianos of Santa Cruz, La Palma.

This famous tradition is celebrated on the island of La Palma coinciding with the Carnival Monday, every year since the 19th century. This celebration commemorates the time when many islanders emigrated to the Americas, then known as Las Indias, specifically to Cuba, in search of a new life and wealth for their families, who eagerly awaited their return home.

On Carnival Monday, the streets of Santa Cruz de La Palma become the alleys of Havana and everyone dresses in white with the traditional clothes from that time, to remember all their ancestors who returned to the island with bags full of riches, ostentatious clothes and of course, tobacco and rum. One of the most striking aspects of the festival is when the locals throw talcum powder at each other to the rhythm of punto cubano, a combination of Cuban and Canary Islands music resulting from the encounter between emigrants and locals back in the 16th century.

Photo: Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz de La Palma

And, we can’t talk about Los Indianos without mentioning their most important character, La Negra Tomasa. This character starts off the party in the morning, simulating the arrival of the boat that transported people who had emigrated to The West Indies to the capital of La Palma, then touring Calle Real and Avenida Los Indianos.

Although the starting time for Los Indianos is officially 12 pm, many people can be seen early in the morning dressed in old-fashioned white clothing, taking a walk around the city or starting the day in a bar with friends and family. After disembarking, the Los Indianos parade moves through the city from Avenida de Los Indianos to the town hall. Once they arrive, after a brief announcement by the local authorities, dances and music begin all over the capital, which won’t stop until dawn.

Los Indianos is probably one of the most unique carnivals in all of Spain, with more than 80,000 people taking part, including locals, neighbours from other islands and cruises that pass by La Palma, intended to coincide with this day.

This year (2020) the big day will take place 24th February. So, if you want to take part in a truly unique celebration, we encourage you to take the opportunity to visit the island for Los Indianos.

 

 

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