It’s second only to Rio’s Carnival in terms of popularity and reputation for a great time, and best of all, it’s right here in Europe! The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is Europe’s top carnival celebration, attracting around 1 million visitors every year to the island’s capital city for several weeks of fun and frivolity!
What is the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife?
The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife may be based on the religious calendar but for many festival-goers this is far from a religious occasion! The people of Tenerife have been enjoying their carnival for hundreds of years but it’s only in the last few decades that the Tenerife Carnival has come to the attention of the rest of the world.
Visiting the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is a great opportunity to get to see the beautiful island of Tenerife. Situated in the Canaries, this Spanish island is off the northwest coast of Africa and experiences year round mild temperatures, so even though the carnival takes place in February you can still enjoy some island sightseeing!
The Tenerife carnival is based upon the same idea as many others around the world. The word ‘carnival’ basically means ‘farewell to meat’ or ‘to remove meat’, and this is where the religious connotation comes from. During Lent traditionally no meats, fatty or rich foods are allowed to be consumed so the people of each community would get together and have a big feast in which all these foods were used up before Lent. The feasts turned into larger celebrations and went on for a week or more, combining the party atmosphere with lavish costumes and general revelry into what we now know today as the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
What can you expect at the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife?
Apart from the obvious party atmosphere, visitors to this Tenerife carnival can enjoy dancing, fireworks, musical performances and more, many of which take place in the last few days before Ash Wednesday. The processions and parades are always very popular as you get to see wild costumes, cross-dressing, amazingly decorated floats, and more, particularly on the Opening Parade (Friday 12 February). A huge fireworks show follows the parade, and then dancing ‘til the early hours of the morning!
Stay until the end of the Carnival and watch the bizarre and sombre Burial of the Sardine Parade on Ash Wednesday. But the fun still isn’t over as there are more parties at the weekend, leading up to the grand finale and a massive closing parade on the Sunday.
Visiting the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
As Tenerife is such a popular destination getting to the island’s capital city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is easy. Tenerife has two airports – the main one in the south, and the second one in the north which is closest to Santa Cruz. Many different airlines fly to Tenerife throughout the year, and considering the island is so set up for tourism there are many hotels and places to stay.
Visiting the main carnival is free but you may need tickets for some of the side shows. Visit the official website for further information. In 2010, the main carnival celebrations of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife will be from Friday 12 February to Wednesday 17 February.