Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival – Is the Second Most Popular Carnival in the World!

Tenerife Carnival is second only to Rio di Janeiro! It is famous all over the world for its colourful and vibrant celebrations and parties.

February 19th, 2020

March 1st, 2020

Days to start

▷ What is the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival?

Every year more then 250,000 people head to Tenerife the gorgeous capital city of Santa Cruz to celebrate carnival! The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival claims to be the second most popular carnival in the world after Rio. Whilst this may be debatable it was however voted the Carnival Capital of the World beating Rio, Notting Hill and New Orleans!.

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival dates back hundreds of years. It is the quintessential party in the Canary Islands and the most anticipated date of the year. While most of Europe celebrates carnival in the winter Tenerife is the warmest place in all of Spain, so its gorgeous warm weather makes it the perfect place to celebrate carnival!.

▷ When is the Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2020?

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is a pre-Lenten carnival that takes place over an entire month! The main week of carnival is the week prior to Ash Wednesday when the celebration kicks into high gear. During this week businesses shut down and everyone heads out to party.

The 2020 dates for the Tenerife Carnival begin on February 19th 2020 and finishes on Saturday the 1st March 2020.

▷ How do they celebrate the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival?

tenerife carnival people choreography dance

Tenerife Carnival is unescapable! Its when the whole city gets wild and lets loose. The carnival begins with several competitions like awards for the best murgas (musical troupes) and many other singing and dancing competitions. There is also the crowning of the Carnival Queens.

After the crowning of the Carnival Queens is when the party begins in Tenerife. For two weeks the streets of Tenerife are filled with colour, costumes and joy. Tenerife Carnival is jam-packed with numerous parades, shows, concerts, masquerade balls, and non-stop parties.

Everyone both young and old gets into costume and hits up the streets of Tenerife for long nights filled with lots of feasting, socialising, dancing and an insane amount of drinking. The motto of Tenerife Carnival is that “no two carnivals are equal!”.

▷ History of Carnival of Tenerife

What is the history of Tenerife Carnival? The origins of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival date back to the 15th century. Carnival was brought to the island after the Spanish Conquest in 1492. Like most carnivals it was the last chance for a feast and giving into excess before Lent.

In the 19th century Tenerife Carnival has become more official and the first competitions were added to the carnival. Masquerading had also become popular, allowing one to become anonymous so they could hide their social class or take part in some anonymous debauchery.

The first official Tenerife Carnival to be organised by the city was in 1925. However shortly afterwards during the Franco dictatorship, attempts were made to cancel the carnival. The celebrations continued, just under the name “winter parties”. However, when Franco died in 1980, the carnival returned to its original name.

▷ Tenerife Carnival Music

tenerife carnival pretty feather suits

Along with carnival, the Spanish also introduced many other things including music. One style of music was rondall, a medieval Spanish acoustic musical genre that was popularised in Mexico. Another type was murga, a type of musical theatre that came from Uruguay. As well as comparsas, which is live conga music that came from Cuba.

These exotic music types are still a main feature at Tenerife carnival today.

Carnival Groups There is something you should know about the carnival of Tenerife and that is that the carnival groups are all different. What is a carnival group? A carnival group is exactly as it sounds, groups of people who work together creating ideas, costumes, music, choreography and who march together in the parade.  What is a Murgas? The “Murgas,” are Spanish carnival groups that feature satire artists who perform songs about current political and world events. What is a Rondallas? The Rondallas are carnival groups that consist of only guitars, bandurrias, lauds and octavinas.

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▷ The 2020 Tenerife Carnival theme: The Croquette ’50s

Every year Tenerife Carnival has a theme which is used as inspiration for the parades and costumes. The official theme for the 2020 Tenerife Carnival is the The Croquette ’50s! So, you can probably expect to see a lot of blue and maybe a few mermaids around the town.

Some of the previous Tenerife Carnival themes have included:

  • 1987 Rome
  • 1988 The Jungle
  • 1989 Egypt
  • 1990 The World of Tales
  • 1998: The Middle Ages
  • 2000: The Pirates
  • 2001: The Odyssey in Space
  • 2008: Magic
  • 2012: Flower Power
  • 2015: The Future
  • 2016: The Years 80
  • 2017: The Caribbean
  • 2018: The Fantasy

▷ Choose your carnival

Tenerife Carnival is split into two parts. There is the official carnival and the street carnival. The official carnival features over a hundred carnival musical groups; murgas, comparsas, rondallas that features the official program for scheduled events.

The street carnival is where you can just hit the streets and can get lost enjoying more spontaneous carnival celebrations. The streets are filled with thousands of costumed people every day.

The dates for the 2020 Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival have been made available so that you can properly plan your holiday around what you wish to do and see. Here are some dates for next years events so you can plan your carnival better:

Here are the dates for the main 2020 Tenerife Carnival events: 

▷ February 19th, 2020 – Election of the Carnival Queens

A Carnival Queen is selected for the Tenerife Carnival. A Carnival Queen is selected from several age groups including children, adults and seniors. The Carnival Queens are always made a focal point during the parades, riding the floats while looking glamorous.

Crowning the Carnival Queens is a popular event that is even broadcast on TV. The contestants take this event very seriously with the costumes being incredibly expensive and they can even weigh up to 200 kilos!.

▷ February 21st, 2020 – The Cabalgata

The Cabalgata is the opening parade and opens the carnival with a bang. It is a vibrant parade that features the carnival queen, murgas, dance groups and more. The atmosphere is electric as everyone excitedly enjoys the start of carnival.

Parade Route: The parade takes place from the Parque de la Granja, passing through Las Ramblas and ending at the Plaza de Europa. After the parade there is a massive street party that lasts until dawn.

▷ Carnival Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 

Saturday is a more relaxed day where people will go to watch some open-air music concerts. The music ranges from Latin tunes all the way through to DJs. It’s a great day to wander the streets and be part of the crowd. The concert venues are the Plaza de España, Plaza de Príncipe and Plaza de Europa.

▷ Sunday, February 23nd, 2020 – DayTime Carnival

In 2008 Tenerife City Council had the great idea of making a Daytime Carnival for people of all ages and families to enjoy. A project that was met with skepticism until the next day there were 250,000 people of all ages, since then this carnival is always celebrated!.

▷ Carnival Monday – February 24th, 2020

This is another great day to hit the streets up and see some live music. Many of the main stages feature world class DJs. There were plans to make this day an official electronic music festival, but they didn’t officially go ahead. However, it is still like an electronic music festival.

▷ Shrove Tuesday – February 25th, 2020 – The Closing Parade

This parade which is known as the Coso Apoteosis announces the end of carnival in Tenerife. The Tenerife Closing Parade is the absolute highlight of the carnival. The parade attracts the most crowds from all over the world who come to witness this spectacle.  The Closing Parade features all the Carnival Queens and all the Carnival Groups. It is an amazing spectacle full of colour, costumes, floats, incredible dance routines and music. The parade takes place in Anaga Avenue.

▷ Ash Wednesday – February 26th, 2020 – The Burial of the Sardine

This is the first day of Lent and on this day is an event that officially closes carnival known as the Burial of the Sardine. This is one of the most surreal carnival celebrations that occurs around the world. It sees the burial of a giant papier-mache sardine.  The Sardine is paraded through the streets of Tenerife, followed by men dressed as priests and women dressed as widows, and they all pretend to mourn the sardine. The sardine is then thrown into a huge bonfire, set alight and a huge firework show officially closes the carnival.

▷ Tenerife Carnival Street Parties

tenerife carnival men women dresses carnival

Every single night of the week during carnival tens of thousands of people take to the streets to party. The street parties are some of the wildest you’ve ever been to! Everyone dresses up in fancy-dress. The parties kick off around midnight and go right through until dawn.

The best street parties occur on the opening and closing weekends, as well as carnival Monday.

▷ Tickets for Tenerife Carnival

Most of the events at Tenerife Carnival are free to attend. Most of the parties occur on the streets and there are loads of open-air free concerts.  If you want to watch some of the competitions, then you will need tickets for these. The Crowning of the Carnival Queen is a popular ticketed event and you must purchase a ticket early. Tickets can be purchased from the digital platform Search for Gala de Elección de la Reina del Carnaval

▷ What to Wear to Tenerife Carnival?

You absolutely must dress up for carnival in Tenerife! In fact, if you don’t dress up then you will be the odd one out. The costumes at Tenerife are a huge spectacle. Lots of people dress up in the carnival theme however you can wear whatever you like.

Don’t worry if you arrive unprepared as there are plenty of street vendors selling costumes, wigs and masks all over the place.

▷ How to get to Tenerife Carnival?

Tenerife has two major airports Los Rodeos and Reina Sofia. There are over sixty airlines companies services these airports with connecting flights to many major European cities.

▷ Where to stay Tenerife Carnival?

tenerife carnival beautiful woman dressed in flowers

There is plenty of options for accommodation in Tenerife. From luxury resorts, budget hotels, inns and hostels. It all comes down to your budget and the level of comfort you are seeking. It is best to book accommodation close to the action because you want to be able to walk to and from the carnival easily.

While you want to be close to the action, you also want a bit of peace and quiet, so you can get some sleep. Our recommendations are to stay around Las Ramblas.

Check out acommodation options here.

▷ How to get around Tenerife Carnival?

The best way to get around is to go on foot, which is why we recommend booking your accommodation close to the carnival. Lots of roads will be shut, carnival traffic is crazy and there is no parking anywhere. If you are staying further away book your Taxi/Uber early.

Tenerife is famous for its natural beauty, excellent nightlife and luxurious resorts but until you have experienced carnival there you don’t know what Tenerife is all about.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.

Before you go!
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