Tenerife: Carnival kicks off on February 17!

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The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife will begin its festivities in the streets on February 17, 2023 with an opening parade as sensational as ever. It is considered the second most popular carnival in the world after that of the city of Rio de Janeiro. For a dozen days, the capital of the largest island in the Canary archipelago will dance until dawn, at an average temperature of 20 degrees. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected!

Mirror mirror, tell me who has the most beautiful feathers?

The first highlight of the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife will take place in the Recinto Ferial (the International Center for Fairs and Congresses of Tenerife) where a huge stage will be the scene of contest of murgas (musical genre), comparsas (group of singers, dancers and carnival musicians) and other musical groups.

But one of the most important moments will take place on the evening of February 15, with the election of the carnival queen at the grand gala. Journalists from all over the world will attend because of the usually spectacular nature of the event. More than fifteen candidates will parade in huge and magnificent costumes adorned with feathers and sequins. The most beautiful creation will of course win the competition.

When we get to town!

These competitions will thus come as a prelude to the second major part of the festival. From February 17, the carnival will take to the streetsand from 8 p.m., place at the grand parade presided over by the queen. Floats, decorated cars, murgas, comparsas and fantastic characters will roam the main streets of the city. The best places to attend if you do it well in advance? Calle Méndez Núñez, Calle del Pilar or Calle Villalba Hervás.

Later in the night, the surroundings of these same streets, as well as the España, Candelaria, Príncipe and Plaza de Weyler squares will become authentic improvised dance floors where it is essential to wear an accessory (very easy to find on site) to transform into a superhero, a dancer, an angel, or any other character, and fully enjoy the moment.

Street parties will take place on the night of the 17th but also on Saturday February 18. And it is precisely on Saturday afternoon that one of the most colorful shows will take place: the Ritmo y Armonía troupe competition (Rhythm and Harmony). The dance groups present their colorful choreographies to the sound of percussion. It will be held on Avenida Francisco La Roche and is completely free.

The day after, sunday 19from 1 p.m., takes place the “Carnival of día (Carnival by day). A day dedicated primarily to families, where young and old alike will wander the streets in full disguise. Head to the Plaza del Príncipe and Plaza de la Candelaria areas to catch the main entertainment.

The party doesn’t stop there! February 20 will be celebrated Shrove Monday until the early morning, but some usually save themselves for the great apotheosis of the “Carnival of Coso” the next day. The Coso is another large parade that takes place on Avenida Francisco La Roche in the city of Santa Cruz. It starts at 4:00 p.m. and is another of the most unmissable events. The queen and her ladies-in-waiting, the comparsas, the murgas, the Carnival characters, the floats… They all fill the afternoon with color and joy, culminating in a big fireworks.

The Burial of the Sardine and the Weekend of the Piñata

And when we thought we were done with the festivities, Tenerife surprises us again with an ever more original event on the night of Wednesday February 22: the burial of the sardine! On this occasion, the streets will fill with widows mourning the “death” of Don Carnal*, staged in the form of a sardine – in homage to the town’s fishing origins – and carried on a float which ends by burning at the end of the parade.

The final “farewell” to the carnival will take place the following weekend. Friday the 24th will be the penultimate big evening of the carnival, Saturday the 25th the “daytime carnival” and Sunday the 26th it will be pinata day ! This last day will probably be the calmest, but the most carnival-goers do not hesitate to take off their costumes and bid farewell to the festival with a great pyrotechnic show. Now is the time to say goodbye to the festival until next year!

A whole island celebrating

Although the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the best known on the island, there are other municipalities where this party is also celebrated in their streets, such as Puerto de la Cruz in the north, or Arona, in the south. During the months of February and March, many of them invite their population and their visitors to dress up and take to the streets – a unique opportunity under the winter sun.

* Don Carnal and Doña Cuaresma represent the struggle between two sides of the human being. Don Carnal is the party animal, he likes to eat meat, dance and dress up. Doña Cuaresma, on the other hand, represents the more serious and religious side, more inclined to eat fruits and vegetables, avoiding dances and celebrations. They refer to the work “Combat de Carnaval et Lent”, a painting painted in oil by Pieter Brueghel the Elder in 1559, which represents a traditional fight of the time, where two chariots and two figures were charged with embody the contrast between two themes: Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

Catherine Mills Avatar