This week is the start of one of Tenerife’s most anticipated events of the year – ‘Tenerife Carnaval’!
With the colourful and flamboyant parades, comical outfits and unconventional events, this annual carnival attracts enormous crowds, with festivities stretching on for days. Sovereign, a luxury Tenerife holidays provider, has put together this guide to the must-see events of this elaborate fiesta.
Originally an extravagant pre-cursor to the oncoming abstinence of Lent, food and drink flow generously as Catholics prepare for 46 days of fasting and prayer by throwing the ultimate annual party. With celebrations continuing through the night, this carnival is a fiesta for the senses and an un-missable experience for lovers of music and theatrics.
A glitzy and upbeat parade through the streets of Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz marks the start of the festivities. The Carnival Queen, her Maids of Honour and their entourage are accompanied by impressive floats and a myriad of elaborately dressed groups and individuals, all dancing and revelling in the celebratory atmosphere. The parade culminates in a spectacular fireworks display at La Marina and Avenida de Francisco la Roche, at which point the party takes to the streets with locals and tourists dancing their way into the night.
Details: Takes place on 4th March 2011, starting at 7pm at Avenida Asuncionistas
Burial of the fish
As a giant papier mâché replica of a dead sardine, complete with pouting red lips and fluttering eyelashes is paraded down the streets, crowds of eccentric mourning “widows”, most of whom are men decked out in hats, veils and pearls, weep and wail behind the funeral cortege.
This bizarre procession originally commemorated the end of ‘Tenerife Carnaval’ on Ash Wednesday but now marks the half-way point of the celebrations. It leads all the way to the harbour, where the festive corpse is set alight and as elaborate fireworks light up the sky, the grieving hordes dramatically howl out their sorrow.
Details: Takes place on 9th March in Santa Cruz, starting at 9pm in Calle Juan Pablo II
High Heels Marathon
The hilarious Men’s High Heels Marathon takes place in Puerto del la Cruz and holds a ‘strictly no females’ policy. Dressed in drag, complete with strictly regulated high heels, preening and posing competitors negotiate cobbled streets to make their way past the finish line. Many entrants in this entertaining event spend so long masquerading for the crowds that they don’t complete the course until well past midnight.
Details: Takes place 11th March 2011, starting at 4pm in Avenida Colón
The closing parades are the biggest celebrations of the carnival, with thousands of spectators flooding to the streets of Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz for these two separate extravaganzas. The fabulous costumes and irresistible sounds of the rhythmic drums and uplifting beats make the closing parties an unforgettable fiesta of noise and colour. Confetti and streamers are thrown onto the passing parade from windows and balconies and the eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating continuing through until morning.
Details: Takes place 8th March 2011 in Santa Cruz, starting at 6pm in Avenida de Francisco la Roche. Then on 12th March 2011 in Puerto de la Cruz, beginning at 4pm in Avenida Colón
- If you don’t want to feel left out then pack some fancy dress items for the celebrations. If there’s no space in your suitcase then there will be plenty of stalls selling a range of fun and glitzy items to get you in the carnival spirit.
- Hotel Botanico in Puerto de la Cruz is just 1.5 km from the resort centre, making it an ideal base for exploring the delights of the ‘Tenerife Carnaval’. Party-goers can even soak weary feet and aching limbs in the hotel’s luxurious Oriental Spa.
- Many celebrations don’t hit their stride until at least midnight, so if you’re up for the challenge you can join the party until the sun comes up. For a post-carnival breakfast treat, spoil yourself with the locals’ favourite “chocolate con churros”, an indulgent dish consisting of mouth-watering doughnut strips with a delicious chocolate dip.