Start spreading the news, our favourite Canary Island is going New York New York for its carnival next year… be a part of it Tenerife Tenerife.
While the Americas and the Caribbean grab the limelight for carnivals, we have the second biggest in the world here in Europe.
And you thought it was the Notting Hill Carnival.
There’s no denying that Rio is the world’s biggest carnival with two million people taking to the streets but a quarter of a million attend the Santa Cruz carnival on the island.
So what’s it all about and when is it?
Well, it’s rooted in Christian tradition and so that’s two weeks before Ash Wednesday.
And for those of you who forgot that man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return then that’s January 20-February 26.
And now for the history
The history of the Carnival falls into three distinct periods…
The Iberians’ religiosity, the more spirited Twenties-orientated festival and the reinvention of the party from 1961 when it took on many of the features we enjoy today.
Now for a timetable of event and what it all mean we got the Tinerfenos to do the heavy lifting.
And with memories of our hike on the island with CanariaWays and our walk through the ages we know they do it far better than us.
So over to them.
The Queen of Tenerife
And that would be Eva from our walk up to Afur which she took in her stride and then did yoga up at the Franco-themed bar (don’t ask).
And I’d vote for her for the Carnival Queen.
15 February – Carnival Queen Election Gala
The Carnival Queen Election Gala is when the Carnival Queen is crowned, who is chosen amongst over a dozen candidates.
The contestants wear the most spectacular costumes, made mainly of feathers, plastic, metal and rhinestones and weighing up to 400kg.
And this year we will see the first-ever junior Gala King.
Reign on our parade
And what would a carnival be without the sing-song?
17 February – Opening Parade of the Carnival
The carnival is a sea of colour, featuring the lead Carnival Queen.
Murga street music groups, comparsa bands and rondallas playing traditional old carnival songs parading down the streets of Santa Cruz.
All in it together
And that means a dance.
21 February – Big Carnival Parade in Santa Cruz
The Coso Apoteosis is arguably the highlight of the entire festivities.
Visitors from all around the world flock to Anaga Avenue in Santa Cruz to witness the spectacle.
It features all the Carnival Queens and Carnival groups, floats, incredible dance routines and musical performances.
Catch of the day
Now Spaniards and Canarians have their own particular take on carnivals which means:
22 February 2023: Burial of the Sardine – A humorous and grotesque procession of mourners saying goodbye to the carnival celebrations.
19 February & 25 February 2023: Daytime Carnival – A popular event for children and families, featuring plenty of activities to keep all entertained.
26 February 2023: Parade of Vintage Cars, Piñata and End of Party – And there’s nothing like whacking a bag of sweeties to get the juices flowing.
In addition to the ticketed official carnival events, there are a number of spontaneous street events/activities to enjoy for free.
We’re advised that one of these night carnival parties is a must.
And we know all about what dancing in the dark is all about from Crop Over in Barbados.
And a glossary
Of course, when you’re in Espana then it helps to have a couple of words.
And I’m reminded on my landing in Galicia that my Camino guide gave me two words that helped me along my 100km to Santiago de Compostella.
Albergue, meaning hostel, and pulpo, the Spanish word for octopus.
A carnival group is a group of people who work together creating ideas, costumes, music, choreography, who all march together in the parade.
Tenerife Carnival features hundreds of different groups but two of the key ones to look out for are below:
Murgas: The Murgas are Spanish carnival groups that feature satire artists, performing songs about current political and world events.
Comparsas: The “comparsas” represent the Brazilian influence on Tenerife’s Carnival, filling it with rhythm, colour and joy.
Nowadays, the comparsas own the street with the undeniable quality of their live performances to surprise even the most frequent carnival-goers on their nights out.
Rondallas: The Rondallas are carnival groups that consist of only guitars, bandurrias, lauds and octavinas.
And of course there is a museum celebrating it all…
At La Casa Del Carnaval, located in Barranco de Santos next to the bridge Puente Galcerán
Maybe add to that glossary for next year Noo Yoikas… because they want to be a part of it Tenerife.