Los Cristianos: The “Other” Carnival

Fri, February 17th, 2012 - By Linda

It’s that time of year again, in Santa Cruz, as in cities across Spain, Carnival has begun and our nightly television screens are full of music and glitz as competitions for the infant queen, the senior queen, the best murgas (satirical musical groups heard only at carnival) and the best dance troupes are broadcast island-wide. Next weekend the whole extravaganza will move out onto the capital’s streets, and it will seem as if the entire population of the island is participating.

However, these days Tenerife’s principal carnival, said to be second in size only to the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is just too much for many. Friends, both local and foreign, prefer to give the sardine-packed streets a miss and wait for the local version. Although local carnivals don’t happen strictly on the prescribed date of Shrove Tuesday, they bring all the razzmatazz to our doorsteps. You’ll find many of the 2012 Tenerife carnival dates here, but Granadilla de Abona, Los Gigantes, Puerto de la Cruz and Los Cristianos spring to mind. I’ve been told by several visitors in recent years that they time their spring holiday to coincide with the celebrations in Los Cristianos.

Here, carnival has many similarities to its rival in Santa Cruz, but far less of the congestion. Elections for the various queens now take place in the comfort of the new Theatre Infanta Elena, and the events are strung out over roughly ten days. This year, 2012, it all kicks off with the presentation of the candidates for infant and adult queens on March 2nd and winds up on the evening of the 12th with the Burial of the Sardine.

The main parade takes place on the second Sunday of Carnival, beginning just past the Arona Gran Hotel and ending at the temporary arena in front of the Valdes Center, which hosts the nighttime dances and entertainments. It’s scheduled to begin at 5pm and, unlike Santa Cruz, it’s usually easy to find a comfortable spot to watch without arriving five hours in advance. Many folk arrive equipped with their own folding chairs and picnics. The Carnival Queen is the star of the day, but you’ll see the runners-up too, in costumes which will take away your breath. Dancers and singing groups from all parts of the island and abroad come to swing their way along the route, and local schools and businesses, have their own groups, or floats.

The whole shebang ends with salsa-ing to live bands well into the wee small hours, which, actually takes place most nights from first day to last. If money is short, as it is with so many of us right now, then this is over a week of free entertainment. Food and drinks can be bought cheaply from the many kiosks which line the street leading from the arena to the fairground, plying baked potatoes and hot dogs as well as skewered meats, tortilla and other more traditional treats.

The last night is a glorious chaos of men in drag, the “widows” who accompany the “sardine” along the town’s streets to the beach, where it is not actually buried, but cremated. It’s much more informal and definitely the booziest night of Carnival, and a fitting end to a memorable week.

Posted : Friday, February 17th, 2012 at 9:10 am
Category : festivals & carnivals
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2 Responses to “Los Cristianos: The “Other” Carnival”

  1. […] until 26th February and after that the resorts of Los Gigantes and Los Cristianos get to have their slice of the carnival fun. Share Tweet Posted : Monday, February 20th, 2012 at 10:18 am Category : festivals & […]

  2. […] Tenerife moves south and you’ll be able to see carnaval queen costumes in Los Gigantes and in Los Cristianos carnivals. Share Tweet Posted : Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 1:30 pm Category : about tenerife […]

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