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Santa Cruz

Carnival, Madigras, fiesta, call it what you will. It happens every year and is a great excuse to dress up and party.

The centre of Tenerife’s carnival festivities is easy to find, lining the seafront and around the city’s main square the Plaza de España.

During the day there’s really nothing going on as the town heaves a sigh of relief and street sweepers clean up. The carnival’s official events begin no earlier than late afternoon, so if you’re up and about at this time, not recovering in bed like everyone else, you’ll find little to do and only a few bars and cafés open.

Most islanders are experts in pacing themselves during the carnival season, and will only slowly begin to emerge around mid-afternoon, taking their time getting ready, assembling their costumes and hanging out with friends before heading into the fray.

Few turn up in the centre until around midnight, so to catch the islanders at their best and the party at its wildest, you too should take your time be well rested in preparation for an all-nighter.

In their quest for winter sun, the bulk of the holidaymakers on the island will probably be oblivious to the goings-on in Santa Cruz, and those who do make the trip to the capital usually leave when the formal events have finished –certainly before the party really gets going.

This doesn’t mean that outsiders aren’t welcome. On the contrary, the gregarious locals will be more than happy to party with you –as long as you’re in fancy dress. This varies from basic tiger and lion jumpsuits to extremely elaborate get-ups, often designed to fit in with whatever the carnival’s theme is that year. (Recent ones have included space exploration and piracy.)

Following the theme is an easy way to get inspiration for your own outfit, and you will be well provided-for by the fancy dress stores including those along Santa Cruz’s main pedestrian drag, the Calle del Castillo.

Otherwise just improvise, lasting for over two weeks and rated as one of the best carnivals in the world, so let your hair down and join in the fun!

In 2004 the Carnival is going to be held between the 18th of February and the 29th of February.

Check out the 2003 Carnival Timetable, each year is similar.

Sunday 23/02/03 18:00 Gala de elección de la Reina Infantil del Carnaval 2003 Plaza de Europa
Thursday 27/02/03 21:00 Gala de elección de la Reina del Carnaval 2003 Plaza de Europa
Saturday 01/03/03 20:30 Cabalgata anunciadora del Carnaval 2003 Paseo Luis Lavaggi
22:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Sunday 02/03/03 18:30 Concurso de disfraces infantil y adulto Plaza de Europa
22:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Monday 03/03/03 18:00 XXXII Edición Rallye del Valle de Coches antiguos Plaza del Charco
22:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Tuesday 03/03/03 18:00 XXXII Edición Rallye del Valle de Coches antiguos Plaza del Charco
18:00 Actuaciones de grupos del Carnaval Plaza de Europa
22:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Wednesday 05/03/03 21:00 Entierro de la sardina From Avda. Generalisimo
22:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Friday 07/03/03 20:00 Recepción de la delegación del Carnaval de Dusseldorf Ayuntamiento
21:30 Maratón masculino "Mascarita ponte tacón" From Paseo San Telmo
22:30 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Saturday 08/03/03 16:00 Gran coso del Carnaval From Avd. Generalisimo
18:00 Actuaciones de grupos del Carnaval Plaza de Europa
20:00 Gran Baile-Verbena Plaza del Charco
Sunday 09/03/03 18:00 Actuaciones de grupos del Carnaval Plaza de Europa
20:00 Exhibición de Fanfarrias Plaza del Charco

The event kicks off the selection of the Carnival Queen, held on the Wednesday before Shrove Tuesday, when various good-looking girls strut around in elaborate costumes in a bid to be elected.

Things really pick up the following Friday night, after an opening parade of bands and floats that announces the start of the festivities proper follow what are usually the two wildest nights of the Carnival.

After the weekend, the flagship event of the official carnival is the Coso or ‘Grand Procession’ on Shrove Tuesday, generally from around 4pm, a huge, lively cavalcade of floats, bands, dancing troupes and entertainers that marches and dances its way along the dockside road, passing beside the Plaza de España for about five hours. Again the costumes worn by those parading (a good many of the islanders it seems) are impressively imaginative and clearly labour-intensive designs. This is followed by fireworks at around 9pm, which act as a starter gun for another night’s partying to begin.

The following night, on Ash Wednesday, the Burial of the Sardine is one of the best-attended events.

The carnival does not come to its climactic end till the following weekend, when some of the festival’s most intense partying follows a kid’s parade on the Saturday and a seniors’ parade (the Piñata) on the Sunday. And while these may be the end in Santa Cruz, many smaller towns around the island, not wishing to compete with (or miss out on) the capital’s carnival, will wait to start their own celebrations.