Choosing a Fancy Dress outfit for Carnival on Tenerife

Fri, February 6th, 2015 - By Jack Montgomery

A few years ago we were in Los Cristianos when carnival was taking place in Santa Cruz and traditional northern towns.

There wasn’t much evidence in the resort that carnival was consuming the northern side of the island, so a woman in a flamboyant carnival outfit sitting outside of a bar stood out from the crowd. Andrea complimented her, resulting in a big smile, and then asked if she could take a photo of her fabulous carnival costume. The smile evaporated. The woman wasn’t wearing fancy dress.


ghoul, carnival, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife


Most of the time we don’t get it quite so spectacularly wrong. However, fancy dress is a huge part of carnival on Tenerife. In the days leading up to the street parties strange creatures take to the streets.
In Santa Cruz last year we sat outside a bar during the afternoon as various zombies lumbered past, ignored by local patrons for whom the sight of a zombie, Edward Cullen or a gang of clowns was commonplace.

Carnival is a time for dressing up. Although, because it’s carnival, there are no holds barred, there are certain guidelines worth knowing about.

When to Costume Up
As a general rule, you don’t wear fancy dress costume to watch parades. The time to really go to town with the costume is for the carnival street parties. You don’t have to dress up, but if you don’t you’ll end up feeling like someone wearing a shell suit at a party where every one else is in DJs and glitzy cocktail dresses.


Street party, carnival, Santa Cruz, Tenerife


What to Wear
Every carnival has a theme. This year’s in Santa Cruz is ‘The Future’ whereas in Puerto de la Cruz it’s ‘The 80s’. However, most people ignore the theme and do their own thing.

There are varying levels of fancy dress. It’s like football leagues. Those in the Premiership spend months over their costumes, ending up looking like they’ve stepped from a movie set. Trending films can figure highly so I’m expecting a few Katniss Everdeens and Lego superheroes this year. Quality ‘off the peg’ outfits and imaginative attempts at home-made costumes form the Championship and so on. A multi-coloured Mohican wig worn with ‘normal’ clothes is basically the Conference League of fancy dress.


Witches, carnival, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife


Where to Pick Up Fancy Dress Gear
We’ve amassed a collection of false boobs, guns, seeping sores, vampire teeth, axes, wigs and grotesque masks over the years. We’ve used old clothes (always handy for the hippy look), mosquito nets and laddered tights (not mine) to create costumes of weird and wonderful creatures.

Although stalls selling outfits and accessories spring up around carnival hot spots (if you desperately need a bare bottom these are perfect), the cheapest place to pick up ready to wear carnival costumes that look good but don’t cost a lot (under €20) are at the island’s bigger supermarkets where there are aisles devoted to carnival.


Fancy dress, carnival, Santa Cruz, Tenerife


Spruce up costumes with the imaginative application of face paint and hey presto, you’ll be challenging for a spot in the Championship at least, and fitting right in with the bizarre creatures bumping and grinding around you.

In the end it doesn’t matter what you wear. Any effort to dress up goes down well with local revellers and opens the door to an incredible carnival experience.

Posted : Friday, February 6th, 2015 at 2:43 pm
Category : festivals & carnivals
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