First Published: March 19, 2024 |

The Carnivals of Tenerife

The Tenerife Carnival is a symbol of Tenerife’s identity. Every year more than 10,000 people come together to make the Tenerife carnivals a reality, keeping alive the island’s most important cultural legacy. There are no limits to their enjoyment, creativity is the only rule.

Here we leave you with the most important aspects of the carnival in Chicharras, find out what it’s all about and the history behind the celebration.

The carnivals of Tenerife

Tenerife Carnival (3)

The Tenerife carnivals are the most popular in Europe and the most similar to those celebrated in Brazil. In fact, they are in the second place as the best in the world, only surpassed by the great festivities of Rio de Janeiro.

During the carnivals, the streets of Tenerife are filled with fantasy, music and colour. The different groups and guest artists do their best to give their best for the festivities. For their part, the citizens take to the streets to accompany them with joy and colourful costumes.

Before we continue, we would like to define some of the terms typical of the Tenerife carnivals:

  • Rondallas: musical groups exclusive to the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife with a particular musical style.
  • Murgas: these are musical groups with theatrical performances from the Canary Islands who sing lyrics aimed at criticism with sarcasm and mockery.
  • Comparsas: dance and music groups that perform at carnivals in colourful and colourful costumes.
  • Comparsas: dance and music groups that perform at carnivals in colourful and colourful costumes.
  • Carrozas: these are large sculptures with a variety of themes that are built on top of the floats to parade in the carnivals.

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Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional

Since 1980, the Tenerife carnivals have enjoyed the distinction of “Fiesta of International Tourist Interest”. They have a high impact both on and off the island. For this reason, tourism increases at this time of year in the same way as it does in summer.

There are stages with music and good entertainment for people to enjoy, dance and wear their best costumes. International singers and renowned artists come together to put on great shows and celebrate in style. The main stages have been the Teatro Guimerá, the Avenida de la Constitución, the Plaza de Toros de Tenerife, the Plaza de España and the Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congresos de Tenerife.

During the 1987 carnivals, more than 200,000 people danced to the sound of music amidst colour, fantasies and fun. This made them guinness record winners as the concert with the largest concentration of people in an open place. The event was attended by the famous and unforgettable Celia Cruz along with Billo’s Caracas Boys and other musical groups.

How do the carnivals of Santa Cruz de Tenerife take place?

In the days leading up to the election of the queen, there are competitions of comparsas, floats, costumes, musical groups, murgas, rondallas, elections of other queens and much more.

Election of the carnival queen in Tenerife

The election of the queen takes place on Wednesday with massive attendance and television broadcasting. The candidates parade and show their best version to win the top prize. The chosen queen will not only be the face of the carnival, but will also represent the carnival at the various tourism fairs in the Canary Islands.

The candidates prepare themselves many months in advance and wear their best outfits to compete for the crown. The winner receives the crown from the hands of the previous year’s carnival queen. The girls’ costumes are huge and can weigh up to 500 kilograms, so they must be carried on wheels.

Announcing Cavalcade

On Friday there is the famous cavalcade with all the groups that participate in the fiestas. This parade takes place at night and passes through the main streets of the city.

On Saturday there are dance-oriented shows with Latin rhythms as the protagonists. On Sunday, the first daytime carnival is held, which is attended by the whole family. Monday is the biggest party with great music and world-renowned guests.

Grand Coso Apotheosis

On Tuesday the Gran Coso Apoteosis takes place with a parade of all the groups, floats and troupes. One event worth mentioning is the Burial of the Sardine, which takes place on Ash Wednesday, in which a giant sardine moves towards the bonfire.

Finally comes the Piñata weekend with big celebrations, the Piñata Saturday 2019 gathered more than 400 thousand people but there was no notary present to certify the new guinness record. Finally comes Piñata Sunday to say goodbye to the Tenerife carnivals with more party and colour, in the evening it closes with a fireworks display.

History of the carnivals

It all began at the end of the 18th century in the different European towns. At that time it was customary to change sex by hiding behind disguises. The bourgeois class also used to wear masks to go out into the streets to enjoy the festivities without being recognised. A few years later, a type of lively and fun dance called comparsas emerged.

Towards the end of the 19th century, new groups called rondallas joined the celebrations and they still continue to bring us their joy. During the 50s of the last century, the famous murgas appeared and came to stay.

Since 1987, the year in which they won the guinness record, they began to celebrate with a specific theme. Rome was the theme that year, for which the Roman temple was recreated and the Ionic style was emulated in the decoration. In the year 2022 the theme was based on Science Fiction and was held in June due to the Covid contingency. For 2023 the theme is: New York, the city that never sleeps.

Come and enjoy the Tenerife carnival, a tradition that remains intact generation after generation and that is gaining more and more fame every year. Enjoy Tenerife’s most emblematic festival, and dance to the catchiest rhythms of the moment. This is a celebration that takes a whole year of preparation to achieve a great party with lots of smiles and unbridled emotions.

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Under karnevalet i 1987 dansede mere end 200.000 mennesker til lyden af musikken i farver, fantasi og sjov. Det gjorde dem til guinness-rekordvindere som den koncert med den største koncentration af mennesker på et åbent sted. Ved denne begivenhed deltog den berømte og uforglemmelige Celia Cruz sammen med Billo’s Caracas Boys og andre musikgrupper.Tenerife Carnaval (6)

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The Carnivals of Tenerife

Tenerife Carnival (10)Tenerife Carnival (11)

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