The first major event of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the opening parade: this year’s theme is cartoon characters. What follows is a full week of masquerade balls, daytime parades filled with scantily clad dancers and outrageous outfits. Then follow long nights of dancing in the streets to the throbbing beat of Latin-style bands, classic old-school records, and Spanish pop.
Hundreds of thousands of people participate, and it’s very much a pick-and-mix party. As a recommendation: do not think that you must see everything or you will end up exhausted the first day. The elected Carnival Queens and their entourage ride their elaborately decorated floats wearing their overwhelmingly ornate costumes. They are suits so huge that they have to be mounted on wheels to be able to move.
Food for the celebration
There’s no real need to pack a picnic for the parades: street stalls provide an endless stream of beer for the thirsty, while tempting food stalls fill the air with the aroma of street food specialties. Each Canarian carnival celebration tempts visitors with typical dishes to try. In Tenerife, snacks are made with Carnival tortillas, small round pancakes that are served warm and sprinkled with honey.
The most surreal of events
The most surreal of the carnival events in Santa Cruz has to be the Burial of the Sardine. On Ash Wednesday, a giant papier-mâché sardine with long eyelashes and a mouth painted with bright red lipstick is carried through the streets. The Sardine is followed by a funeral procession of men dressed as women. It’s not often you see a huge crossdressing fish at the center of a lavish funeral.
The mourners are of course dressed as a parody of widows, crying and sometimes collapsing from grief. The night ends with an eye-catching fireworks display as the great sardine bursts into flames.
The ideal clothes for the occasion
Tenerife has a pleasant warm climate throughout the year so it is not necessary to wear a lot of clothes during the day. February nights can be a bit chilly. It is recommended for the long hours watching the parades to wear comfortable shoes, unless you are participating in the high heels marathon. You’ll definitely need a fancy costume to make the most of Carnival, and anything goes.
The regulars bring a different outfit for each night. Giant supermarkets sell carnival costumes, and even specialty stores sell kitschy costumes and accessories. Stalls in the main squares can offer everything from face paint to unconvincing fake breasts.
The only way to tackle the madness of carnival is to put on your costume, ditch your hang-ups and go out dancing the night away. Do you want to enjoy the carnivals in Santa Cruz de Tenerife? If you are looking for accommodation we offer you the best places so you can relax and enjoy your vacation