Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Is hectic work-life making you feel bogged down or is it the household work that is taking its toll on your mental status? If yes, then it is the right time to consider going on a perfect Spanish vacation. A trip to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, will not only rejuvenate you from within but also will work wonders on your mood. The exotic scenery of the Canary Islands coupled with the blue waters of Atlantic Ocean lures travellers across the globe all the year round. Though Tenerife can be visited any time of the year, the real action takes place in the month of February during the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Carnival of Santa Cruz, Tenerife - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife
Carnival of Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Tenerife, a small Spanish island in the African coast, plays host to one of the world’s biggest carnival celebrations. Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is widely popular and stretches over a period of three weeks during which the entire island comes to live with vibrancy and vigour. The way it captivates the island and its important cities, few can hardly escape the limitless craze and euphoria it creates. In fact, you will be too awed to leave the procession because where in the world will you find so many colours at one place! Gorgeous girls parading on the streets, stunning attires and costumes, marching bands, the loud strumming of drums and a complete mayhem makes the carnival in Tenerife simply outstanding and out of the world.

It is believed that the name ‘carnival’ actually originated in the year 1268 in Italy. The word ‘carnival’ is derived from its Latin roots, ‘carna value’, which means goodbye to meat. This means meat and all sorts of animal products, like eggs and milk need to be consumed before religious Catholics gives them up for Lent, a period of 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. In this way, carnival celebrations have spread through most parts of Europe and in the fifteenth century, it arrived in the Canary Islands with the Spanish.

The history of The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife dates back to the era of early European settlement. The roots of the carnival can be found in the early 1900s when Spain was under a dictator rule and local citizens were asked to change the name of the carnal to ‘The Winter Holiday’ in order to avoid various restrictions imposed by the rulers of that time. As soon as the Canary Islands was conquered by the Europeans, Santa Cruz de Tenerife became the most popular celebration on the whole island and since 1980, it has been gaining mass appreciation from public and holiday-makers.

Ranking as the 2nd most popular carnivals in the world, after the carnival in Rio de Janerio Brazil, Santa Cruz de Tenerife attracts thousands and thousands of visitors, who comes here to enjoy the extravagance and just party, by letting their hands down like never before. An opening procession is a grand event and before the Ash Wednesday event, hordes of people, dressed in dazzling costumes and stunning props are found to be flooding the streets of the city of Santa Cruz.

Carnival of Santa Cruz, Tenerife - Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife

This carnival is basically divided into two parts – official carnival is the one in which organised musical events take place and street carnival is the other part. It is the street carnival that won hearts of hundreds and thousands, as dancers and common people get decked up in party costumes to parade through the streets. Cross dressing is an essential essence of this entire carnival and this trend has been originated as early as 1605. Another striking feature of the carnival is the beauty pageants, involving luxurious beauties. Beautiful women clad in stunning costumes- what a sight! And who doesn’t want to take a glimpse of that?

Each year, the carnival is based on a predetermined theme. In the past years, several themes like Hollywood Musicals, Middle Ages, Hippy life, horror films, etc. have dominated the carnival environment. Throughout two weeks people party till the wee hours until Ash Wednesday, as on this special day, the Burial of the Sardine ceremony takes place, marking the end of week-long celebrations. The ending is marked by a funeral procession where the sardine is burnt to symbolise burial of the past events and asking the society to get transformed and reborn as new.

When and where to go

The best time to attend this carnival is the month of February. The event takes place in the beautiful Spanish city of Santa Cruz that is inundated with brightly painted old buildings, classic boutique shops, world-famous museums, stunning auditoriums and black sandy beaches, thanks to the volcanoes.


Being a largest island of Canary Islands, Tenerife has a warm climate with year-round temperature ranging between 20°C in winter and 28°C in summer months. Frequent rainfalls occur and it is due to this fact that this island is so lush and full of greenery.

How to attend

Getting to Canary Islands is not that difficult as two international airports are there, Tenerife North Airport, aka Los Rodeos Airport and Tenerife South Airport, aka Reina Sofia Airport. As Santa Cruz is the city that hosts this extravagant carnival and it is situated in the north, hence it will be better to get down in Tenerife North Airport.

Things to do

  1. Prior bookings are a must in order to avoid the rush in festive seasons.
  2. Research the theme of the Carnival so that you can bring appropriate costumes and props.
  3. Don’t forget to enjoy local folk music sessions that are played from a local Canarian Timple, similar to a guitar.

Things not do do

  1. Never bring anything of value.
  2. Don’t waste time in buying Adult Murgas Contest tickets because most of the people buy it by standing overnight in queues.

Common facts

  1. In the year 1980, The Secretary of State for Tourism has declared this carnival a Tourist Festival.
  2. Each year, more than 5million people visit Tenerife.
  3. In the year 1987, the carnival got its place in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest gathering of people outside for a concert.

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