Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age


The Best Things in Life Can Be Free

No 7 of 10 Things to Do in Tenerife Which Won’t Cost a Fortune

As I’ve mentioned before, I was kind of stung into doing this little series by a comment I read on some travel blog page about there being nothing to do in Tenerife.  I grant you that some of the attractions here are expensive – whale watching, Siam Park, Loro Parque, shows, events at the Auditorium, the occasional concert like the Simply Red one coming up (though all of those things are well worth it if you have the inclination and the money), so I wondered if “Sharon and Dave from Hartlepool”, or whoever it was, had simply found it too expensive to do things.  Because this is my blog, not a website on “what to do in Tenerife” it reflects my personal tastes, but a bit of research will undoubtedly turn up something which is more to your own taste.

Throughout the year, but especially in summer, there are all sorts of free concerts going on in every municipality including jazz, classical music, choirs, folk dancing/music, puppet shows, and art and photographic exhibitions, or sometimes plays and films for just a €5 entry fee.  Remember, if you are staying in the Playa de las Americas area – PDLA is not a municipality.  It’s a purpose-built resort town, with no history.  Half of it lies in the Arona municipality, and half in Adeje, so that’s where you should be looking for local color and events.  My thing, is Blues and after that “World Music” but these are really the least well catered for in a way.  There are loads of classical and jazz concerts.  Just a couple of weekends ago Arona staged two nights of jazz in the main square.  The wonderful weather here makes it easy to give free concerts I suppose, no worries about squeezing people in or seating.

My very favorite because it features my very favorite music is Santa Blues in Santa Cruz.  This event entered my radar about five years ago, but I’m not sure how long it’s been happening, and happening would be the word of choice here.  Back then, there were concerts every Friday and Saturday over the month, from memory, but by two years ago it had settled to a weekend in June.  This year it’s 24th thru 26th.  Word class artists like Robert Cray and Buddy Guy have performed, so it’s the “real” thing.  The only problem in coming from the South is the driving, not so much the distance, it’s only about ¾ hr to an hour, but doesn’t it seem to you that you should have a bottle of Budweiser in hand when you’re listening to Blues?  Still, silly to gripe about that,  I’ve found that one beer and a lot of ambience can get me high anyway!  If you like, you can combine it with a meal in one of the marvellous restaurants in Calle Noria!/calledelanoria?ref=ts     I tried this one year with some girlfriends, but it just didn’t work.  I could hear the opening act peforming as they ooohed and ahhed over the dessert and coffee, and I was itching to go.  For me that’s a totally different night.

Robert Cray : Lousy photo, but happy memory

Arona has been known to stage a decent Blues concert too.  The best one ever I went to was in El Fraile, it may have been the first, because it was woefully underattended for the quality of the music, which was sheer magic.  It was the first time I’d heard “my” music here on the island, so I was particularly stoked.  In later years it moved to Las Galletas, but if it happened this year I totally missed any publicity.

Speaking of publicity, the necessity to promote events is something which doesn’t seem to have registered too much here, and I speak of topline concerts in the Auditorio to these local, free concerts.  Maybe they couldn’t cope with more enquiries, or maybe it’s because we are in something of a backwater here (though, is anywhere in the world really a backwater these days?), but you need to seek out this information at the moment.  Changes are coming I hear, but for the moment, if you don’t speak Spanish there are English language newspapers, the best for me being Island Connections, but I can recommend the following web sites and blogs:

The best sources are the web pages of the local town halls if you speak Spanish.  Many of them, as mentioned before, have excellent information. Just google, for instance, ayunatmiento guia de isora Tenerife, and you will find listings of upcoming events.  If you’re here on vacation, check the maps for nearby towns, and join in a real traveller’s experience.

Check out the Cabildo website too.  If you’re staying in the south it will mean getting up to Santa Cruz, but there are free and low cost events which make it well worth it.  After Santa Blues for me, maybe even on a par, is the Mumes Festival in July, celebrating world music.    One of the best nights of my life was a balmy July night three years back, a few days before we had the indescribable  experience of watching the incomparable Youssou N’Dour in the Auditorium, but this night was about sampling foods and drinks from around the world in the company of a veritable United Nations of folk, both friends and strangers, and watching musicians from around the world, which climaxed with the performance of the incredible Ismael Lo from Senegal, but to tell you about Senegalese music is a whole other topic.  The tickets cost just €12.00 not a fortune compared with Glastonbury or Reading!

Speaking of Guia de Isora, this well-kept little town has been the venue in October/November of the last four years for an International Documentary Film Festival, showing films from all over the world, and entry to see the movies has been absolutely free.  OK perhaps you need to speak Spanish to fully enjoy it, because although the films are often shown in their original lanauge the dubbing is in Spanish, of course. Events take place throughout the day, not just at night.   Last year I saw African and Chinese films, and I could only manage one day, but in previous years I’ve been speeding up there every night, straight from work. You can also attend round table discussions and about the subjects raised in the movies, and  talk with the directors about their movies.  Awesome.

Addendum  for Residents

If you live here and you want to participate more in local life you should check out your local town hall web site too, or just pop in.  I just ran a quick check of every one I could think of both south and north, and they all offered a variety of courses and classes, in some of which you could participate with a fairly basic knowledge of Spanish.  In fact, some offer Spanish classes for foreigners, which sometimes include visits to various places of local interest too, so you learn the language and get to know the island at the same time.  Other than that, I found photography (and I can testify to the excellence of the course offered by Arona), yoga, pilates, tai chi, natural medicines, jewellery making, mime, bellydancing, life coaching, flower arranging, self defence, ceramics, storytelling, folk dancing and theater workshops.  Most of them are not free, but are very low in price and offer you a great opportunity to mix with local people (and so improve your Spanish at the same time :=).  Almost all the municipalities  also offer a variety of hikes during the Autumn and Spring months, which I can also tell you from experience is a marvellous way to see the island safely and meet like-minded people.

My first attempt at timelapse photography.  Not that good, like I said, my first attempt, and something I probably could have taught myself using various internet sites, but much better with expert help and advice, and the 6 week course cost me just €80.

Life here is not perfect, but then, nowhere is, so far as I can see.  The numerous attractions, like golf, climbing, surfing, sailing, windsurfing, paragliding, yes they cost money, but there is still plenty to do at low cost, and the weather makes it all so much easier.  If you want to plan a barbeque for tomorrow, you are going to be very unlucky if you can’t stick to your plans.

This post was part of a series, here are the others:

Be a beach bum!

Take a drive through the Teide National Park

Barbeque in the “Great Outdoors”

Mooch the Markets

Party like a local!

Follow local sports

Free Summer concerts

Try Shanks’s Pony!