As one of Spain’s biggest fiestas, the Carnival in Santa Cruz has a character all its own. During the fiesta, the city is literally taken over by the people, as thousands hit the streets to party. It earning a Guinness World Record in 1987 as having the largest crowd of people 250,000, dancing to the same song in the open air.
Marching bands and dance groups rehearse all year as once the celebrations start, the music never stops. The music of Latin America dominates the scene and you feel you could almost be in Rio as you Samba or Bossa Nova the night away
Yesterday saw the election and crowning of the Carnival Queen, Adtemexi Cruz, wearing a creation called Aurea. Costumes take months to design and make once the theme has been decided upon. She was accompanied by her attendants in equally fantastic outfits and now that that formality is over it is time for the first parade.
Tomorrow Friday 13th sees the Opening Parade. For some, this is the best part of Carnival as the parade snakes through the town and the newly elected Queen waves to the crowds from her giant float. Probably because once the clock strikes midnight it is the time that carnival officially begins. From now on the party and fun will not stop until the fat lady finally sings sometime next week!
Over the weekend there are street parties in all areas, fairground attractions, street vendors and stages erected so that bands can entertain visitors who mingle with the locals, who have Carnival in their blood.
For me the most spectacular culmination of Carnival is the “Gran Coso Apoteosis” the closing parade. It starts mid afternoon and lasts for hours as magnificent floats bearing the queens are joined by all groups. It ends with a massive fireworks display in the Plaza de la Candelaria and it can only be described as an explosion of music, fiesta, joy and above all fun!
The traditional “Burial of the Sardine” ends the Carnival on the first day of Lent. It consists of carrying a giant sardine through the city’s streets on its way to be cremated. Thousands of widows dressed in black, priests, nuns and even “popes” all in floods of mock tears bid farewell to Carnival for another year.
I can only suggest if you want to experience Carnival to the full, Santa Cruz is the place to be.
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