Even on a sleepy, sunshine island, fiesta’s and bank holiday weekend breaks are something to look forward to. Lots of people jet to Fuerteventura for a quick bank holiday weekend break and with a flight time of around just 4 hours from the UK or Ireland, you can see why. But are bank holidays in Fueteventura the same as in the UK?
Bank Holidays and Weekend Breaks
In the UK and Ireland, we use the term ‘Bank Holiday’ to mean a day off work. It is a day when a lot of businesses close or run a limited service and, as the name suggests, the High Street banks are closed. It is pretty much the same in the Canary Islands although not all areas celebrate the same days and some islands have more bank holidays or ‘Fiesta’s’ than others.
Across the Canary Islands archipelago, individual islands, villages, towns and regions will set aside various dates during the year for local public bank holidays. These days are usually related to the Christian faith and celebrate special people, such as a local Saint or person, or relate to a particularly important time in that region’s history. Whilst some are clebrated across all of the islands, such as the days which are dedicated to bigger, really important religious festivals, such as Noche Buena (Christmas’ Eve) or King’s Day (The Epiphany), others are much smaller affairs and are only celebrated in a particular region or village and are often only specific to the people that live there. There are many days during the year when a village located in the middle or south of one of the islands is enjoying a bank holiday and villagers in the north are still working away as usual. This isn’t uncommon across The Canaries and sometimes catches people out.
Keeping up with the sheer amount of bank holidays can be a little tricky (there are loads spread out during the year) and many of us that live here often get caught out when popping into town to do our banking or catching a bus. In Fuerteventura, a public holiday really does mean ‘a public holiday’ and it is a day to down tools and close doors. And much like the UK, if the date happens to coincide with a weekend it is often added onto the weekend to give workers a break too. Unlike the UK though, where the extra day is often added to a Friday or Monday, in the Canaries it is usually added as a Thursday and Friday instead. So you still get three or four days in a row, but earlier in the working week. It is usually offices and larger business premises where these rules apply or are apparent, but for the rest of the workers, any building or construction work in residential areas should come to a stop ( to avoid any noise pollution ), tourist information offices are closed, government offices and departments are closed for the day and local council offices and banks will also close their doors and, unless their main offices are in the mainland, will probably not answer the phone either.
Bank Holidays & Transport
During a bank holiday or ‘Fiesta’, the banks will close and you can also expect changes to bus timetables and schedules, such as ferry times. What usually happens is that the company which runs the boat or ferries will switch to their ‘off-peak’ or Sunday timetable, so you will notice a reduced service. But, although the services are limited, they are still running so you can still get out and about and there are always taxi’s in the main resorts that you can jump in at a taxi rank or telephone and they will come and pick you up.
Top Tip: If you are island hopping (for example between Corralejo in Fuerteventura and Playa Blanca in Lanzarote) check the ferry times before you go as during a fiesta, they switch to a different schedule and you don’t want to end up missing the boat!
Supermarkets & Bank Holidays
Some supermarkets will not be open during a bank holiday. These include the larger chains which are aimed at local residents rather than tourists and are not based inside shopping centres. Such chains include the very popular Mercadona supermarkets that are spread around the island or the large Eurospar in Corralejo. However, supermarkets that are located inside shopping centres will also often be open, such as the Spar supermarkets located in C.C Las Palmeras in Corralejo or C.C Atlantico in Caleta De Fuste, or the Hiperdino in C.C Campanario in Corralejo. Other smaller supermarkets that are located on High Streets or in the centre of the main tourist resorts will also usually be open. However, it is worth remembering that this does not apply to all Fiestas! There are some fiestas where even the smaller shops close, and Canarian Day ( May 30th ) is one of them.
As you would expect, banks are closed on fiesta days, so popping in to pay in a cheque or speak to a cashier is not possible. However, using a cash point machine to check your balance or withdraw cash, is not a problem. Most of the major banks have an accessible cash machine outside or just inside the door to their building, which you can usually enter by simply pressing a button or using your cash card.
Top Tip: It is worth noting, that unlike most resorts or towns in the UK and Ireland, many businesses in Fuerteventura still work on a cash-only or mainly cash basis, so the bar owners often pop to the bank regularly. This can sometimes mean long queues. So, if you do need to speak to someone in the bank, ( and most banks do have English-speaking counter staff as well as other languages ) then try to avoid the day before or the day after a bank holiday – as it will always be busier than usual.
Bars & Restaurants
During a fiesta day, some bars and restaurants may choose to close for the day and enjoy a day off, but usually they remain open as usual. The local traders rely on local custom and tourism so, unlike their corporate neighbours, they are allowed to open and serve the public even though its an official bank holiday. In fact, there are certain fiesta days when the bars and restaurants thrive and are usually packed to the rafters, such as Fiesta Del Carmen, so closing would make no sense whatsoever. However, there is one day when you may find your favourite little tapas bar or traditional Canarian restaurant sporting the sign ‘Cerrado Por Fiesta’ or ‘Closed for the holiday’ and that is Canarian Day.
Canarian Day – El Dia De Canarias
Canarian Day is the one fiesta day that you will often find the more traditional bars and restaurants closed, and in some cases, for a few days at a time, so the owners can really let their hair down and celebrate. This special day always falls on the 30th May, and is known as Dia de Canarias or The Day of The Canaries. Canarian Day is an annual, public bank holiday, which occurs across all of the Canary Islands and is a favourite with the local people. It is a celebration of their independence, history, culture, and heritage. It is a very special day, in which everyone gets involved, from school children to Great grand parents and if you are lucky enough to be visiting at the time, is also an interesting event to watch.
Bank Holiday Weekend Breaks
There are a lot of Fiesta’s which fall on or close to the bank holidays in the UK and Ireland, so grabbing that quick 3-4 day getaway can be a nice way to coincide the two. Some fiestas are nice and Christmassy, others are very traditional with music and dancing, some result in the Burning of the Sardine or take place during Carnival week and some take place on the Ocean! For more information on the local fiestas, have a look at our Local Fiestas pages, as there we cover them in more detail. We also give you ideas of what dates they fall and places to stay which are close to the airport (so no need to waste precious time on transfers, and more time enjoying yourself.
If there is some specific event that you want more information about, then please get in touch and we will do what we can to get it for you,
Happy Bank Holiday!