Getting Ready for Carnival on Tenerife

Fri, January 25th, 2013 - By Jack Montgomery

The Three Kings have barely had time to trot over the horizon on their camels and the horses in Adeje are still damp from their annual dip in the seas for the Romería de San Sebastián; yet already Tenerife is starting to dance to a Brazilian beat.

Groups of clowns (murgas) sing satirical songs on Canarian TV nightly and crisis-hit shops spring back to life with shockingly coloured flamenco dresses, belly dancers’ outfits and false breasts decorating their normally glum frontages.

Carnival is almost upon us.

Although the murga competitions have already started in Santa Cruz, the party doesn’t hit full swing until the election of the Santa Cruz carnival queen on 6 February. From then, the fiesta flows through the capital, Puerto de la Cruz, La Laguna, Güímar and La Orotava until Sunday 17 February. After that, the southern carnivals in Los Gigantes and then Los Cristianos have their turn.

For those involved with official events, there have been months of planning and costume making. For the rest of us, visitors and residents alike who just want to enjoy the spectacle, the big question is to dress up or not?

Do I Need to Wear Fancy Dress at Carnival on Tenerife
It’s a question that comes up a lot. Do I need to wear a fancy dress costume for carnival?


Sailors at Santa Cruz Carnival

Our first experience of carnival was in Puerto de la Cruz many moons ago. We didn’t know much about it, most reports concentrated on the parades, and so we went in ‘civilian’ dress. Watching the opening parade was fine; none of the locals beside us were in fancy dress, only those participating.

Even being at the street party in Plaza Charco as a lively Latino band warmed up the crowd was okay, until the clock ticked towards midnight. As the night progressed, what had been quite a mature crowd in conservative clothes morphed into a sea of colour and bizarre looking creatures. Despite it being a cool February night there were acres of flesh on display; from plunging necklines to bare midriffs and more exposed thighs than the meat section in supermercado Al Campo… and that was only the men.

Nobody looked at us as though we were odd and we certainly weren’t made to feel unwelcome but we felt out of place; as though we’d turned up at a posh party wearing jeans and T-shirts.


Pavement Cafés at Carnival Street Party, Puerto de la Cruz

By 1am the huge crowd of assorted zombies, vampires, pirates and all sorts looked totally normal; however, the rare tourist wearing a sensible jumper stood out like a sore thumb.

We were having a great time but we knew that everyone wearing fancy dress was having an even better one.

The following night we dressed up; it was like being given a key to another world. People spoke to use, threw their arms around us, asked to have photos taken with us. Instead of standing on the peripheries of the party, we were sucked into its pulsating centre.


Native Americans at Carnival Street Party, Puerto de la Cruz

That was when we really began to understand what carnival was all about.

In reply to the question ‘do I need to dress up for carnival?’ the answer is no, you don’t need to dress up… but yes, you should if you want to really experience the best of it.

Posted : Friday, January 25th, 2013 at 10:27 am
Category : festivals & carnivals
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One Response to “Getting Ready for Carnival on Tenerife”

  1. […] picked any number of Tenerife fiestas. They’re vibrant, colourful, fascinating and great fun. Carnival is the best known but the Corpus Christi flower carpets in La Orotava in May/June are quite […]

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