Culture Beat: Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

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Culture Beat: Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Tucked away in the Atlantic Ocean, Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands (and the southernmost of Spain’s self-governing islands). Known for its beaches, the island hosts several festivals that highlight its cultural celebrations.

Every February, Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, hosts Carnival, which is said to be the second largest carnival after Brazil’s Rio Carnival. It is observed before the beginning of the Lenten fast. In 2023, the Main Street Festival will run from his February 17th to 26th. The theme of this year’s festival is “New York”.

Contest at the former festival Photo: Luciano de la Rosa /

Colorful parades and parties throughout the day and night are one of the island’s most memorable events. Before the start of the street festival (15 February 2023), there will be an election for the Carnival Queen. Costumes made of feathers, plastic, metal, and rhinestones reportedly weighed up to 400kg each. This year, the first-ever Junior Gala King will also be announced.

The festival kicks off a few weeks before the main festival (January 20, 2023) starting with an opening parade (February 17, 2023) announcing the start of the festival. A colorful procession winds its way through the streets of Santa Cruz. The Carnival Queen leads the way and is accompanied by ‘Murga’ street music her group, ‘Comparsa’ band and ‘Londalas’ who perform traditional old carnival her songs.

This will be followed by the Big Carnival Parade (February 23, 2023) known as Coso Apoteosis. All the queens of the carnival come to life in a float parade on Daun Anaga Avenue in Santa Cruz with music and dance.

On Ash Wednesday (February 22nd), people participate in an event called the “burial of the sardines”. Giant paper sardines are carried in procession through the streets with many cries. A beer with sardines is lit, actually marking the end of the festival.

                                                        Photo: AldisToome /

But the weekend continues with fun. Saturday celebrations are commonly known as “holidays.” Expect lots of music and parties on the streets on both Saturday and Sunday.

The origins of the Carnival de Santa Cruz de Tenerife are not well known, but it is likely to date back to the time of the first European settlements (around the 15th century). Visitors interested in learning more about the festival’s cultural ties can visit La Casa del Carnival, a museum in Santa Cruz. It has both permanent and temporary exhibitions and a varied program about the carnival. One of the permanent exhibition’s biggest attractions is the Carnival Queen’s Dress and Crown Jewels.

However, most travel agencies in the region warn that all festival reservations (accommodation, tickets, etc.) must be made well in advance of 2023. Thousands of travelers will attend the next UN World Tourism Organization festival. Tenerife is best known for its beaches, but it also aims to establish itself as a sports and astrologer tourism destination.

Also read: Take a look at these 10 winter festivals in Europe for your next trip