Carnaval in Tenerife 2016

Updated 12 March: It’s the final weekend of Los Cristianos carnival today, and the town will see widespread traffic disruption as it prepares for the Carnaval del Día today and the main Coso parade tomorrow. Traffic coming down the dual carriageway from the motorway will be detoured before the fountain roundabout around the back and side roads, and Avenida Chayofita (the dual carriageway leading to the right from the roundabout) will be closed entirely to traffic. Extra parking has been laid on, and increased access for taxis and buses. It’s going to be a bit chaotic …

For those thinking of attending events over this weekend, the Carnaval del Día starts today from noon in two locations: outside the Valdes Centre on the fairground, and in the Plaza de la Pescadora at the harbour). From 5pm there will be a carnival fancy dress competition, and from 8pm a dance in the fairground. At 10pm a procession to the Plaza del Pescador outside the cultural centre, and a DJ from midnight.

Tomorrow, the main coso parade starts from Paloma Beach apartments around 4pm, with a dance afterwards in the Plaza del Pescador outside the cultural centre. on Monday, the burial of the sardine will start from 8.30pm in the Plaza del Pescador, ending up at the beach, and then back to the cultural centre for the end of carnival party.

Updated 3 March: Los Cristianos is full of excitement today on the eve of its Carnaval, which starts tomorrow. The main event for many people is the Coso parade on Sunday 13 March, which routinely draws over a thousand participants, and many more lining the streets to see the parade. The same will apply to the Carnaval del Día on Saturday 12th, and the burial of the sardine on the last day, Monday 14th. The full programme is HERE.

Updated 12 February: As the Semana Grande of the Santa Cruz carnival comes to a close with the Carnaval del Día tomorrow and the Gran Fin de Fiesta on Sunday (link), the Los Cristianos Carnaval is starting to gear up. Yesterday in the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre, Arona Mayor José Julián Mena, municipal tourism councillor David Pérez, and fiestas councillor Pura Martín officially unveiled the carnival poster and full programme, which will see the town transformed between 4 and 14 March into old Havana, with constant music, parades, murgas, parties, and three stages for presentations and performances, the largest of which, where the carnival queens will be chosen, will be some 400 square metres. Pura Martín anticipated that thousands would be involved, and mayor Mena said that the carnival will help even further to recuperate Los Cristianos’ reputation, with all the carnival events demonstrating the council’s commitment to quality and internationalism.

carnaval arona 2016 (800 x 1132)

Update 13 January 2016: And with Christmas and Reyes barely over, Carnaval 2016 starts today with the inaugural gala and the draw for the carnival queen candidates, followed tomorrow, Thursday 14th, by the initial rounds of the children’s murga competition. Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento has announced that every single minute of this year’s carnival will be televised, with agreements now in place for Mírame TV, Canal 4 Tenerife, and El Día Televisión to broadcast everything not covered by RTVC. The full programme for the entire Carnaval 2016 is HERE. Tenerife is now in carnival mode until 14 February … and indeed, in south Tenerife, until 7 March when Los Cristianos’ carnival comes to a close!

carnaval sct 2016

Original post 21 July 2015: The Tenerife Cabildo has announced that the Santa Cruz Carnaval 2016 will take place between 3-14 February 2016. The programme is still to be fleshed out, but the official website is HERE, and there’s a Facebook page HERE. After last year’s theme of the Future, 2016’s will be “The 1980s”, a theme chosen by public vote through the website, and which marginally beat “The Caribbean”.

The Tenerife capital’s carnival isn’t just the largest in Tenerife, it is now an official Fiesta de Interés Turístico Internacional, the second largest in the world, with only the world-famous Rio de Janeiro Carnaval bigger. Including initial competitions, events take place over a month, with almost everything pretty much coming to a standstill in Tenerife! In the main carnival week, indeed, shops and banks have restricted hours, and many businesses close altogether on carnival Tuesday, which is a public holiday in many municipalities in Tenerife.

One of the most keenly anticipated events, or series of events, is the murga competitions – a sort of combination of farce, satire and music (involving a type of kazoo) with outlandish costume and group singing. They are phenomenally popular and there is saturation television coverage of all the stages and groups taking part. I’ve posted videos of them in previous years, e.g. HERE.

Perhaps most famous to outsiders, however, are the main parades, the choice of carnival queen, and the bizarre ceremony of the burial of the sardine on the eve of Lent. Men dressed as wailing widows, a gigantic fish in full make-up paraded through the town and then burnt – no-one seems to know what roots the tradition has, but it’s always one of the most popular parts of any carnival.

Two other Carnavals of great local interest are Los Cristianos’, which will be from 4-14 March (formerly officially announced as 26 Feb-7 March), and Puerto de la Cruz’, between 31 January and 14 February, the latter with the theme of “the world of cinema” (programme HERE). For the moment, however, it’s still only July and we’re already on Carnaval countdown!



  1. Good evening
    Does anyone know if there is festival in el medano in April. We arrive 16th-30th April
    Many thanks Freda

    1. Author

      There is a What’s On page HERE, and at the top you will also see a link to public holidays in Tenerife this year.

  2. Thank you very much.

  3. Information is very useful. However as the link is in Spanish do you know the route of the parade and is it in Sunday 6 March or Sunday 13 March.

    Many thanks

    1. Author

      It’s the 13th, as in the latest update to the post (“The main event for many people is the Coso parade on Sunday 13 March”), and it starts from Paloma Beach complex, heading up towards the Princesa Dácil hotel, some time after 4pm.

  4. What time does the carnival start and end on Sunday 14th March in Los Cristianos

    1. Author

      Sunday is the 13th, but there are also events on Monday 14th. There is a link to the programme, with all timings, in the post above. As it says:
      Sunday 13th, 4pm, main parade, followed by dance outside the Cultural Centre.
      Monday 14th, 8.30pm, burial of the sardine, starting from the Cultural Centre, followed by a dance.

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