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To the Carnival Beat in Tenerife

No question about it – there is one time in the year when Santa Cruz de Tenerife comes alive, and that is at Carnival time. It is world famous, extremely popular and one of the biggest on earth, rivalling Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (it’s twin city) and Venice. Tourists, sightseers and fun lovers who head for this spot in the Canary Island archipelago end up hopelessly drawn in by the beat, the dazzle and the colour of this splendid fiesta. Lasting for a month, it features a host of activities showcasing mainly music and fancy dress.

This time around, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife lasts from 1 February to 5 March. As in previous years, thousands of people in fancy dress roam the streets, eager to fall under the spell of Carnival magic. The festivities are hosted by over a hundred groups of around fifty people each, compering murgas (ensembles singing to satirical lyrics), comparsas (dancing carnival troupes), fancy dress groups, rondallas (street bands) and musical troupes – quite a feat! Take note of the following rundown of the highlights of the Tenerife Carnival for your requisite getaway.

The Carnival Queen

One of the loveliest moments in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the Gran Gala, at which the Carnival Queen is elected. Beholding the spectacular costumes studded with rhinestones, glittering ornaments and elegant feathers is a magical experience. Amazingly, those costumes can weigh up to between 150 and 200 kilos and have to be transported on wheels. A stunning, must-see extravaganza!

The Opening Horse Parade

As its name suggests, this event marks the start of Carnival and what better way to get the ball rolling? In style, with a spectacular horse parade at which all the Carnival troupes march past, including the queens and maids of honour, who ride in carriages escorted by the troupes. Four hours of rhythmic percussion and Latin beat which extend well into the night.

Carnival Saturday

Another date to jot down on your Carnival agenda is Carnival Saturday, when the streets of the city again become inundated with music and dance. Most of the activity is centred around the Plaza de la Candelaria, the Plaza del Príncipe and the Plaza de Europa.

The Gran Coso Apoteosis

This celebration, the veritable closing ceremony of Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is possibly one of the most exciting moments in the festivities. It is the day all the carnival troupes, carriages, floats and queens parade along the Avenida de Anaga, marking the grand finale of Carnival proceedings.

Ash Wednesday

Like any Carnival worth its salt, the arrival of Lent is heralded by the “burial of the sardine”. The event takes place in the main city streets, suitably draped in mourning, with balconies sporting black ribbons. A giant sardine is paraded through the streets, before being ceremoniously burned at the end of its itinerary. The Tinerfeños or inhabitants of Tenerife bid farewell to Carnival by staging their sorrow in the form of a lament, although they also mark the occasion in comical satire and by lampooning the Church. So, don’t be surprised if, while wandering through the streets, you come across people dressed up mostly as priests, bishops or monks carrying sexual props of all kinds.

Book your Vueling to Tenerife, don your fancy dress and get into festive mood as you attend one of the most popular Carnivals in the world.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Image by Philippe Teuwen