Happiness, Colors and Extravagance: Tenerife’s Wild Carnival

 Traveling has been my passion for more than a decade and, since the beginning, optimism has always been my partner. I used to say that life is just one big party, but I never imagined I would move to a place where this saying meant more than a whisper in my head. Tenerife is my home now, but it is also the place where “la vida es un carnaval” (life is a carnival), where people are more enthusiastic about celebrating a huge “fiesta” than about Christmas and other holidays.

The charming Spanish island is hosting the biggest yearly carnival, after the one in Rio de Janeiro, and I am one of the lucky people who get to attend it without having to plan a trip, pay accommodation and take days off from work. I actually live in the middle of the action and, even if sometimes it gets too loud, I love it! The Carnival is definitely the most wonderful time of the year, in Tenerife.

Every Carnival Needs a Queen

For two weeks, the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, burst with happiness, colors, extravagance, freedom, music and glamour. In February, people of all ages get out of their cozy homes to applaud the parades and attend the wild parties.

 The theme of the carnival is selected by public voting and the big “fiesta” starts with the election of the queen. The costumes are created by great designers and the ladies look ravishing. The tickets to the gala are immediately sold and the audience is mainly Canarian since most of the visitors are more interested in the parades and the parties.

 Travelers who don’t have the chance to experience this amazing event can always admire the costumes of the winners at the Museum of the Carnival, located in Santa Cruz. It is a small building but, personally, I find it very interesting.

Allegorical Carts, Musical Theatre and Wild Parties

My favorite part of the carnival is the opening parade, when everybody is anxious to see the allegorical carts, the Maids of Honor, and entourages being driven through the center of Santa Cruz (as well as Puerto de la Cruz), together with the traditional “murgas” ( a form of musical theatre) and groups of people following them. Everybody is dressed up, dancing and signing, inviting the whole city to celebrate this fabulous carnival.

 Then, the party begins. At first, I was overwhelmed by the impressive number of people who were dancing and singing together under the clear sky. I honestly never thought this could go on for so many days! But, besides the night parties, that end at 6 a.m., there are also a few day parties which are as glamorous as they can be. Whole families dress up and enjoy the music, the drinks, and the food available on the streets of Santa Cruz.

I have been to many fiestas, but I never thought that a party can fill my soul with so much positive energy. Thanks to their relaxed and joyful way of living, the locals of the island are always a source of happiness for me. But the Carnival brings so much more. Imagine tens of thousands of people sharing their happiness together. Yes, it is an explosion of positivity! And I am very thankful for having this experience!

Burning the Excesses of the Festival  

As you can imagine, during the carnival, immense quantities of alcohol and food are consumed, and many hours of sleep are lost. This is why, on Ash Wednesday, people of Tenerife burn “the excesses of the festival” during…another parade, of course. Known as “the burial of the sardines”, this festivity used to mark the end of the carnival, but it is now celebrated in the middle of the fiesta.

 What to expect? Well, weeping “widows” following a funeral cortège for an enormous sardine made of rags and clothes. The hysterical crowds are actually hilarious and many of the widows are actually men “in floods of tears”. Everything ends with setting the “corpse” alight and admiring the fireworks.

 It might sound weird because…it is. But it is also interesting and overwhelming and nobody who has a chance should miss any of the festivities brought by the Carnival.

 No matter your age, your music preferences, the type of costume you want to wear and how you want to dance, the Tenerife Carnival welcomes everybody who is ready to have fun and forget about the daily worries for a while.


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