Culture Beat Carnival Of Santa Cruz De Tenerife

Said to be the worlds second biggest carnival after Rio (in Brazil), the festival returns to its traditional February celebration
Tenerife Carnival    Luciano de la Rosa /
Tenerife Carnival Luciano de la Rosa /

Tucked away in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary Islands (the southernmost among the autonomous islands of Spain). Known for its beaches, the island holds several festivals which highlight its cultural extravaganza.

Every year, in February, the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz, holds the annual carnival which is said to be the second largest after Brazil&rsquos Rio Carnival. It is observed before the fasting during Lent begins. In 2023, the main street festival will be held between February 17 and 26. &lsquoNew York&rsquo is the theme for the upcoming festival.

Colourful parades and parties held throughout day and night make it one of the most memorable events of the island. Prior to the commencement of the street festival (February 15, 2023), the election of the Carnival Queen takes place &ndash the contestant with the most spectacular costume wins the coveted role. According to reports, the costumes, made of feathers, plastic, metal and rhinestones, may each weigh up to 400 kg. Other categories include the Children&rsquos Queen, the Queen of the Elderly, etc. This year, a first-ever junior Gala King is also expected to be announced.

Festivities begin weeks ahead (January 20, 2023) of the main festival, which commences with the Opening Parade (February 17, 2023), when the start of the festival is announced. A colourful procession winds through the streets of Santa Cruz with the Carnival Queen in the lead and accompanied by 'murga' street music groups, 'comparsa' bands and 'rondallas' playing traditional old carnival songs.

This is followed by the Big Carnival Parade (February 23, 2023) which is known as Coso Apoteosis. Dwn Anaga Avenue in Santa Cruz, the float parade features all the Carnival queens and a riot of music and dance.

On Ash Wednesday (February 22), the people participate in an event called the &lsquoBurial of the Sardine&rsquo. A giant paper sardine is carried in a procession down the streets accompanied by much wailing the bier with the sardine is set on fire, and actually marks the end of the festivities.

However, the merriment continues over the weekend. The Saturday celebration is popularly known as the &lsquocelebration by day&rsquo. On both Saturday and Sunday, expect a lot of music and partying on the streets.

Although the time of the origin of the Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife is not quite known, it is said that it likely dates back to the time of the earliest European settlements (around 15th century). Visitors keen to know more about the cultural links of the festival may visit the La Casa Del Carnaval, a museum in Santa Cruz, which features both permanent and temporary displays as well as a variety of programmes on the carnival. One of the biggest attraction of the permanent exhibition is the display of the dresses of the carnival queens as well as their crown jewels.

However, most travel operators in the region have warned that all bookings for the festival (accommodation, entry tickets, etc.) must be made well in advance for 2023. With Tenerife expected to emerge as a popular global tourism destination with due support from the UN World Tourism Organisation, the upcoming festival will see a large number of travellers attending it. While Tenerife is best known for its beaches, it is also aiming to establish itself as sports and astro tourism destination.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller