Beyond the Beach – Music in the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are a popular destination for holidays, thanks primarily to their winning formula of sun, sea and sand. These islands off the coast of Africa are technically part of Spain, but they have an identity all their own.
The Canaries have a unique culture, and part of this is displayed in traditional Canary Islands music and dance. Whether you visit Tenerife, Gran Canaria, or Lanzarote (the three major Canary Islands), you’ll find the islands are teeming with attractions for music lovers.
Sure, you’ll want to spend time relaxing by the sea, but think beyond the beach. If you spend some time discovering the music of the Canary Islands, your vacation will be even more rewarding.
Canary Islands music
Traditional Canarian music has a distinct folk quality. While the islands’ population is a mix of the native Gaunches (who are said to be related to Berbers) and Spaniards from the mainland, their music has a Latin and Spanish flavor.
One thing you’ll notice is that in the Canary Islands, they play instruments that you don’t see elsewhere.
- El Timple – A small string instrument that resembles a ukulele
- Bandurria – Another stringed instrument, that looks similar to a mandolin
- Gomero – A type of tambourine
- Carachas – Percussion instruments typically made out of bone or wood
- Caracola – A wind instrument that looks like a large snail or conch shell
Canary Islands folk dance
What’s music without dancing? Sure enough, folk dancing in the Canary Islands goes right along with the traditional music. After a day of swimming, snorkeling and sunning, why not check out the local dancing? There are numerous performances and celebrations through the year.
Traditional dance outfits in the Canaries are colorful and fun. Women wear bright colored skirts, billowing white blouses, and a scarf on their head. Men wear loose trousers that come down to the knee, with black knee-high socks, and a colored sash around their waist.
Canary Islands Music Festival
Although the Canary Islands are well known for their folk music, the biggest musical event is a classical one. The Canary Islands Music Festival is an annual event, held every January and February since 1985. Events are spread across the Canary Islands, including smaller islands like El Hierro and La Gomera.
This music festival was created to enhance the image of the Canary Islands as a destination that offers culture along with the exquisite beaches. Since the festival has attracted world famous musicians from Placido Domingo to Yoyo Ma, it looks like they’ve succeeded.
If you’re thinking about going to the Canary Islands to sample the magical beaches and water sports, you’re not alone. If you want to mix in some local music and dancing, you’ll enhance your trip with some memorable moments.
The Canary Islands Music Festival is held in winter, when you’re more likely to find cheap European flights to the islands than you will in summer. But whenever you visit the Canary Islands, be sure to seek out some traditional Canarian music and appreciate the local culture. It’s a great addition to your beach side fun.