The streets and Squares are filled with parades and a myriad of entertainment from the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival.
Notice: The 2021 Tenerife Carnival has been officially canceled.
In 2021 the main days of the Santa Cruz festival are from February 10th-21st.
Practically every town and village gets involved in the carnival on some level. It is truly an island-wide event that the citizens of Tenerife are proud to be a part of.
What can you expect from the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival?
Those attending the Carnival of Santa Cruz can expect a magnificent spectacle. This fortnight-long affair provides a welcomed break before the Christian period of Lent. Furthermore the carnival serves as a celebration of the performing arts, personal expression and most importantly, dance.
Each year the carnival has a specific theme. Some past themes have included flower power (2012), the roaring 20’s (2002), and even space (1991). In 2018 for example; the theme voted for by the public of Tenerife was: “La Fantasia” or “Fantasy”. So you know you can expect some truly dazzling displays full of weird and wonderful creatures.
In terms of actual organised affairs, three particular events stand out and have become a tradition each year for the Carnival of Santa Cruz. These are three of the most popular events and a must-see for anyone attending the festivities:
Election of the Santa Cruz Carnival Queen
February 10, 2021
Place: Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congresos
This gala includes a variety of wondrous parades, but most importantly a parade of the carnival queen candidates. The queens are dressed in fantastic costumes usually decorated with elaborate feathered designs.
The public votes for their queen together with a jury panel and the winner is chosen! This is an honoured position and the whole election day is just a truly amazing spectacle. This event is broadcast live to the country and also on select TV stations abroad.
February 12, 2021
Place: Plazas Príncipe, Candelaria and avda. Fco. La Roche
Typically held on the first Friday of the carnival, this is the first and most extensive parade that flows through much of the centre of Santa Cruz.
The announcement parade celebrates the opening of the carnival. It expresses to the world and citizens of Tenerife that the festivities have started, and that its time to party! It is also the first major chance for private sponsors of the parade to promote themselves.
Starting at Parque de La Granja, the parade winds through various streets including the Ramblas, Plaza Wyler, Avenida Islas Canarias, and concluding at the epic Plaza de Espana. Lasting for four or more hours, this parade is an unbelievable spectacle – expect beautiful and vibrant floats, costumes, decorations, music, dancing and more!
Burial of the Sardine
February 17, 2021
Place: Plaza del Principe
This event might not be to everyone’s tastes but it is an annual tradition and one of the main spectacles of the carnival. The streets of Santa Cruz are decorated with mourning drapes. During the day, a parade is held through the streets and the central float is a giant Papier Mache sardine.
Followers dress as widowers and members of the Catholic Church and a funeral procession of sorts is held. You may not understand what is going on, but the spectacle, fish and the parade are like nothing else you will experience.
Other carnival themes
Throughout the two week period, there is a myriad of other events, parades, shows and concerts mainly centred on Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Be sure to check out the Grand Finale which usually happens on the last day of the carnival.It includes an immense parade along the main avenues in Santa Cruz and a pyrotechnic display. We have listed some of the other major events together with their location from the 2021 carnival:
Rondallas Festival & Costume Contest – 02/07/2021
Musical festivities and costume display
Place: Tenerife Auditorium and Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congresos
Festival of La Zarzuela – 02/11/2021
Epic musical theatre
Place: Guimera Teatro
Carnival of the Day – 02/14/2021, 02/20/2021
Fantastic carnival celebrations
Day: Sunday (23/02) and Saturday (29/02)
Place: Plaza de Espana, Principe and Candelaria
Classic car display and gran carnival finale – 02/21/2021
Old car show and closing firework display
Place: Avenida Francisco La Roche (car display) and Círculo de Amistad XII de Enero (gran finale)
This is just a small snippet of the festivities and activities you can attend and there is so much more to discover. We wholeheartedly advise attending as many of the events listed above as possible as they will give you a great introduction to the carnival.
For those stopping in Santa Cruz, we would also advise simply heading out of your hotel and wandering through the streets to see what you can find .there are numerous events happening in every corner of the city and sometimes the best days are those that aren’t planned.
Most of the main events take place in the three main squares of the city; Plaza de España, Plaza de la Candelaria and Plaza del Principe. Consider exploring these areas in particular and the surrounding streets and avenues.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival – immerse yourself in this iconic event
There is no other event like this in the world. The usually quiet and laid back island of Tenerife comes alive for the carnival. Every city, town and village becomes awash with vibrant decorations, fantastic parades and a contagious party atmosphere.
Year in year out, the carnival organisers and comities surpass themselves and provide the locals of Tenerife and the waves of visitors with a true spectacle and a fortnight of frolics and fun!
If the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival has grabbed your attention, we highly recommend travelling to the Canaries largest island, dressing up in a dazzling face mask and carnival attire, and letting your inhibitions take over!
This will be a once in a lifetime experience and you will be swept away by the whole colourful affair! Book your carnival now!
What is the Common Music at Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival?
Salsa and Merengue is the most dominant music at the Santa Cruz Carnival, but you can hear most music genres throughout the entire festival.
Carnival of Santa Cruz Tips
To ensure you make the most of your time in Tenerife and get in the carnival spirit we have provided 3 essential tips:
1# Dress like the locals!
The Santa Cruz carnival is a celebration of colour and vibrancy and the local population dress to impress during this festive period. To get into the carnival mood be sure to do the same! The streets of Santa Cruz are packed full with clothes stalls and costume shops so pick out something garish, colourful and bright to make a good impression and fit in with the crowds.
2# Practice your Salsa moves!
During the carnival parades and festivities, the streets are rife with dancing. The music and atmosphere are infectious – do you want to be the only person who has two left feet? Consider learning a little salsa or even just dusting off your old dance moves so you can impress the locals and enjoy the lively carnival parades.
3# Don’t miss the choosing of the Carnival Queen
This is the central event of the carnival and is usually held on the 19th of February. Election of the Carnival Queen is possibly the most exciting and enjoyable gala of all. It is a major highlight of the carnival that brings everything together in one immense display. If you must choose one event, make sure it is this!
What to Do?
Where is the Carnival of Santa Cruz held and what is there to do?
The main activities and festivities are all centralised in Santa Cruz de Tenerife but most of the other towns and villages in Tenerife have organised celebrations too. When visiting Tenerife, it is advisable to take some extra time to explore the island and see what it has to offer – due to its dramatic volcanic landscape and extensive history, Tenerife is packed full of awesome attractions. The following are some of Tenerife’s must-see sites:
The Market of Nuestra Senora de Africa
Often referred to as the African Market, this is a fascinating public market that is held in an impressive purpose-built building only a 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Espana in Santa Cruz. Within this market, you can find some great bargains on fresh fruit and other produce, souvenirs and handmade gifts.
El Teide Volcano
Any visit to Tenerife would not be complete without experiencing the spectacular volcano of Teide. Standing at 12,198ft, this is the highest point in Spain and the tallest volcano in the world from base-to-peak. Guided tours to the top of the volcano are possible and there is also a superb cable car ride too.
Playa de Benijo
Due to its volcanic nature, Tenerife has a variety of bizarre beaches and one such location is the Playa de Benijo. This beach has gorgeous black sand and a myriad of unusual rock formations, rock stacks and cliff faces – you can even try cliff diving!
Throughout the island of Tenerife, you can find a plethora of superb hotels – this island is renowned as a holiday destination after all and not just for its spectacular carnival!
Locations such as Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz and Costa Adeje all have an abundance of high-quality resorts and amenities.
The ideal place to stay is obviously Santa Cruz de Tenerife as this is where the main carnival celebrations take place – staying here will ensure you are in the heart of the festivities!
The following hotels are some of the best the capital city has to offer and are a great choice for any couple or small group:
First, we have the 3 star NH Tenerife Hotel conveniently located only a short walk from the Plaza de Espana. This hotel has a light and modern décor with stylish and comfortable rooms.
Next, we have the Hotel Taburiente S.C Tenerife – this fabulous establishment has its own pool and is located right next to the gorgeous Parque Garcia Sanabria.
For those looking for a bargain, look no further than the Tenerife Experience Hostel – if you are experiencing the carnival on a budget, this hostel’s shared dorms will certainly not break your bank account for under 25 Euros per night.
For more fantastic hotels such as these, don’t forget to check out Booking to see what other bargains you can find. Remember to book in advance too – despite the large number of hotels in Tenerife, the Carnival of Santa Cruz attracts huge numbers of tourists!
Where to Eat?
When travelling to Tenerife, you will be presented with an exciting plethora of delicious dishes and Canary Island specialities. This chain of islands has developed its own style of cooking with influences from various other cultures. Expect plenty of Mojo (an accompanying sauce made with oil, garlic, red pepper and other spices), tapas, chicken and fish and an array of dishes that will delight your taste buds.
Throughout the carnival locations, you can find a myriad of street vendors and stalls selling gorgeous fast food and snacks – if you try one thing, be sure to tuck into a marinated pork taco! Particular eateries of choice include the Bodegon El Puntero, Taberna El Cambullon, Café Caramba and D’Tapas 26.
Bodegon El Puntero
is a short walk from the Plaza de Espana and is a great local restaurant – come here for a slice of local life and a beautiful choice of fresh seafood.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a light but tasty snack, then head to Café Caramba just off of the Plaza de la Candelaria. This establishment creates a range of unusual sandwiches with ingredients such as pastrami, beef and chicken all at reasonable prices.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, Santa Cruz has plenty of outstanding choices so don’t worry! D’Tapas 26 is an inviting tapas bar near the Plaze del Principi. This restaurant provides some first-class vegan dishes and a great selection of wines.
Taberna El Cambullon
We also have the Taberna El Cambullon – you can find this local restaurant on the popular Calle Bethencourt Alfonso which is right next to the Plaza de Espana. This friendly and welcoming restaurant serves some fantastic Mediterranean and European dishes, as well as a variety of traditional Canary meals
How To Get To There
If you are planning to experience the delights of the Carnival of Santa Cruz, we highly recommend staying in Tenerife itself. You could entertain stopping at one of the neighbouring Canary islands such as Gran Canaria, but Tenerife is packed full of quality accommodation and is a fantastic place to explore in its own right.
Tenerife is serviced by two international airlines – Tenerife North and Tenerife South.
Tenerife South Airport
Tenerife South is the main airport and the largest in the Canary Islands – airlines travelling here include TUI, WOW, Wizz Air, Transavia, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Neos, Lufthansa, Luxair, Icelandair, Iberia, Finnair, EasyJet, Aer Lingus to name a few.
Tenerife North Airport
Tenerife North, on the other hand, has a smaller capacity and deals primarily with inter-island travel and the Iberian Peninsula. Airlines frequenting this airport include Air Europa, Alitalia, CanaryFly, Finnair, Iberia, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair and Vueling.
Generally, non-European residents would have to fly to a major European city and then transfer to Tenerife through one of the airlines mentioned above.
Shuttles from the Airport
There is a range of mini-bus shuttles services available that can then take you from the airport to the northern parts of the island. Journey via shuttle bus typically takes up to 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on the number of stops en-route. Check out airline websites and see what deals you can book today!
Travelling around Tenerife
If you are stopping in Santa Cruz there is a fantastic tram system that has stops at major locations within the city such as Plaza de Espana. You can purchase single tickets directly at the tram stations, or a Bono card which lasts for multiple journeys.
Alternatively, if you are staying outside of the capital and travelling from one of the coastal towns such as Puerto de la Cruz or Costa Adeje, Tenerife has a fantastic island bus service. The public bus company is called Titsa and the buses are green and white – ask at local tourist offices or your hotel reception for timetables and route maps.
History Carnival of Santa Cruz?
One of the Oldest Carnivals in the World
This immense celebration is actually one of the oldest carnivals in the world! Some historians report that the tradition of a carnival has been present on the island of Tenerife since the 18th century. Furthermore, after the epic Rio de Janeiro carnival in Brazil, this carnival is the second most popular in the world.
The Carnival Origins
Originally, the carnival was held specifically in the city of Santa de Cruz, but since its huge increase in popularity and its declaration as a Tourist Festival of International Interest, festivities have spread to virtually every location on the island.
Throughout its history, the carnival has been surrounded by controversies such as the governmental ban during the 1920s and 1940s and noise complaints from residents in the early 2000s. Despite this, the Carnival of Santa Cruz has stood proudly as the main festive event of Tenerife and continues to grow every year.