One of the most popular fiestas in Tenerife is Carnival or as we spell it here Carnaval and as I write this blog, the celebrations are in full swing. It starts immediately before Lent so is dependent on when Easter falls and rivals Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro. As with all the street parties in Tenerife, the local population spends months getting ready designing costumes, floats and preparing acts.
So what’s involved?
One of the most eagerly awaited events is the election of the Carnaval Queen and the junior Carnaval Queen. Hundreds of people attend and for those who can´t get tickets the event is televised. The candidates strut their stuff in the most spectacular and stunning feathered and sequined costumes. Once chosen the Queen will take pride of place in the parades.
With the elections over, things get cracking with a massive Opening Parade featuring performing groups called murgas accompanied by music and dance troupes. Extravagant costumes and decorated floats ensure that each year is somehow more spectacular than the last.
All Images courtesy of © Turismo de Tenerife
The party lasts for days with the largest, loudest, most dazzling and extravagant taking place in the capital, Santa Cruz, but other areas celebrate their own fiesta. Los Cristianos, Puerto de la Cruz and many smaller towns offer something different but one theme is common to all, the streets are filled with excitement and fun, everyone is dressed up as a celebrity or cartoon character, anything goes! and they usually end up as a huge street party with music and dancing in the streets until dawn.
You’ll certainly find something to see and do every day of the carnaval season but the Grand Parade is really the highlight. Thousands of people, locals and the tourists line the streets as the city becomes a sea of colour with elaborately decorated floats, fabulous, skimpy costumes of sparkling sequins and flamboyant feathers and troupes dancing to the most dynamic upbeat, tropical music.
Celebrations go on all day and night as music electrifies the air, fireworks light the night sky and residents and visitors get in the party spirit.
Spain has a reputation for quirky traditions and the Burial of the Sardine is no exception. Now don’t go expecting a typical funeral or mourners. A large paper mache sardine is paraded through the streets accompanied by an entourage of mourners. One of the stranger aspects of Tenerife’s Carnaval is that it has a large cross-dressing theme. Nearly everyone involved is dressed as a member of the opposite sex! So the mourners consist of pregnant men and bawling women lamenting the passing of the sardine as life returns to normal. In Los Cristianos the fish is set alight on the beach and a spectacular fireworks display ends the chaotic celebration.
In a nutshell, Tenerife Carnival essentially boils down to throwing out your inhibitions and becoming what normally you are not. It’s about partaking in everything and above all is pure, light-hearted fun and unbridled happiness.