Interesting Facts and Figures about the Carnival in Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

carnival queen © doegox/Flickr

The Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is only rivaled in size by the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.  But name any other aspect – the extravagance of the costumes, the beauty of the carnival queens, the general noise level – and it will be hard to tell the difference. Which is not to say that Spain’s major carnival (and Europe’s biggest) does not have its specific traditions. Each carnival is unique, and the one in the Canaries is no exception. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the Carnival in Tenerife that prove my point:

Carnival crowds

The Carnival in Tenerife is a record holder under many aspects. In 1987, the carnival entered the World Book of Records for the first time, when a huge open air concert managed to attract 200 000 people. While it is hard to estimate how many people attend the carnival each year, it would be safe to say that during its open air concerts, there can be up to a quarter million participants.

Music and dance

Dance, music and street parties are also part of the Carnival in Tenerife. there is a great variety of music genres, dance styles and carnival-related events. Both children and adults enroll in the carnival’s numerous dance, music, costume and arts competitions. Most bands will play Caribbean music, but outside the Carnival competitions there will be a lot of contemporary music.

The biggest, coolest, most extravagant costume

The Carnival starts with the election of the Carnival Queen. The queen’s costume has a lot to say in this competition. These costumes become more elaborate and extravagant form year to year, to the point at which they can weight up to 100 kg and be several meters high. Costumes are usually allegoric, in the sense that they represent famous stories, characters or events. Among the the creators of these costumes have been numerous famous designers – the election of the carnival queen is an important event in Spain, watched millions of viewers.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

carnival queen © doegox/Flickr

Burial of the sardine

The Burial of the Sardine is the event that officially ends the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In the last day of the carnival, an over-sized, paper mache replica of a sardine is carried around through the city’s streets. People in black clothes accompany the sardine, in what looks like a mock-funeral. At the end, the sardine is burned, in a ceremony that symbolizes the end of the joyful carnival and the official  beginning of the Easter lent, a time of abstinence and contemplation.

Tenerife carnival

Burial of the sardine ©Mataparda/Flickr


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