There are lots of carnivals throughout Tenerife’s cities and villages, but the most popular by far is the Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It takes place in the city of Santa Cruz, the capital of the island, and everyone knows it as the Tenerife Carnival.
Traditionally, carnivals take place in February or March and last for practically the whole month, with a particularly busy week where there are events in the capital’s streets, filling the city with colour, music, and masks.
It has been declared a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest and attracts thousands of people from all corners of the globe. It is undoubtedly one of the world’s best carnivals.
The Carnival is organised into two phases: the first phase includes the murgas, comparsas, and rondallas, and other musical groups, as well as the selection of the Carnival Queen. The second phase, the Street Carnival, Is when the whole island dons a costume and celebrates their parties in the streets of Santa Cruz.
These are the popular acts at the Tenerife Carnival:
Murgas, comparsas and rondallas
The murgas, comparsas, and rondallas serve as a prelude to the fiestas, marking the start of the Carnival and setting the atmosphere alight. They are the soul of the Carnival’s bustle. There are several different contests organised around these groups in the days leading up to the street Carnival. We’ll explain what each of them is for:
- The murgas are musical groups that sing political and social songs laden with irony and satire. Their contest is one of the most popular during the Carnival.
- The comparsas, on the other hand, are groups dressed in unique costumes that make the streets of Santa Cruz pulse with their batucada and other dances.
- Finally, the rondallas, are responsible for providing a touch of calm and elegance to the Carnival with their classicals songs and rhythms.
Carnival Queen Election Gala
The Queen Election Gala is one of the most important and stand-out events during this part of the fiesta.
The event attracts thousands of people and is broadcast throughout the media. During the event, dozens of young people parade and flaunt their majestic and enormous outfits. The event is enlivened by comparsas, murgas and other musical acts. Finally, one of the participants is crowned the Carnival Queen.
The Announcement Parade fires the starter pistol for the Carnival to move onto the streets – the Friday before the Carnival Tuesday – once the different contests of murgas, comparsas and rondallas have taken place and the Carnival Queen has been crowned.
Thousands of people of all ages don costumes, while dozens of carnival floats, musical and dance groups parade around the capital’s streets for hours to celebrate the arrival of the fiesta. After this, the streets of Santa Cruz are full of hustle and bustle for a whole week.
Carnival Tuesday is the high point of the Carnival. In the early afternoon, a party starts that lasts until the morning of the next day. The streets of Santa Cruz are once again filled with life and colour, with thousands of people in costumes, floats, all types of groups, and music, lots of music.
Burial of the Sardine
The burial of the Sardine (entierro de la sardina) announces the end of the Tenerife Carnival fiestas. On Ash Wednesday, Santa Cruz mourns and a huge sardine is paraded through the streets followed by a massive funeral procession to the place where it will be cremated. All this, obviously, without losing an iota of the festive atmosphere that characterises the carnivals.
An although the burial of the Sardine officially closes the Carnival and announces the arrival of Lent, the fiestas don’t end here, as they are extended to the end of the following week, with events known as the Saturday and Sunday of Piñata.
The Daytime Carnival takes place throughout the week, and as its name suggests, it involves concerts, contests, and other events running from the morning to afternoon in Tenerife’s capital, bringing together thousands of people.