Christmas Lights Up Santa Cruz

Tradition always draws me to Santa Cruz and La Laguna just before christmas to savour the grand designs of the belens (nativity scenes) and to ooh and aah at the festive lights. Apparently it took seven days to create the world, I suspect it took a lot longer to put together these variations on an annual theme.

First stop was the Caja Canarias bank HQ in Plaza del Patriotismo, Santa Cruz, they always have a large walk around display set on a big rural scale with a cast of hundreds of busy figures. This year it included a bit of a River Nile influence to compliment an Egyptian history exhibit in another hall. The clever thing about this show is the dimming and pulsing light in the room so you get that night time feel too. The meandering stream adds a living feel, and there´s always a few humourous characters if you peek inside of various courtyards. Opening times are Monday to Saturday10am to 1.30pm, and 5.30 to 8pm, Sundays are only on 24 and 31 December plus 5 January, from 10am to 1.30pm.

I don´t need much excuse to get the tram up to La Laguna, so I popped up to see their offering in the Casa del Capitanes, just around the corner from the tram terminus. Not only did they have a selection of model cattle and kings grazing in the outdoor plaza, but also a large room full of a long extended village christmas scene with grand buildings and those small touches that reflected their devotion. Flocks of sheep roamed, and small birds grouped together in flight above the roof tops. This one is open 10am to 2 pm and 4~pm to 7pm weekdays, and 11am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This is probably a good time to say that all the nativities are free, some have had charity collections in the past but that was not the case this year. I did like the knitted nativity in a shop window as well.

Back down to Santa Cruz and there was a strange mix going on at El Rinconito in Plaza Candelaria at the port end of the main shopping drag, Calle Castillo. The Bethlehem stable had a windmill attached to it, and a pink Milka chocolate cow grazed nearby. At least the Cabildo (Tenerife government) building looked more seasonal with it´s facade sending out a cheery greeting. Inside their belen featured rural life with all the christmas story trimmings and some impresive fishing boats. Opening times here are 9am to 3pm, 4pm to 9.30pm everyday, apart from morning only times on 24 and 31 December, and afternnon only on 25 December, 1 & 6 January.

Just one more call, the Canarian Parliament building in Calle Castillo. This is another elaborate walk around giant montage of rural scenes. The feeling is joyful, with big jolly characters, hard at work, and revelling in the joys of the festive season. You may well recognise landmarks of the seven islands that have been incorporated into the design. Ok here come those opening times, 10am to 3pm, and 4.30pm to 10pm, the exceptions are 24 December and 31 December 10am to 4pm, and 25 December and 1 January 4.30pm to 10pm. That should keep you out of the bars for a while, it nearly worked for me.