Carnaval in Tenerife 2017

Updated 25 March: As Easter approaches, Tenerife’s carnival season draws to a close in Los Cristianos this weekend, with the Carnaval del Día throughout the whole of today at the main stage near the Cultural Centre and in the harbour near the Plaza de la Pescadora, and the Gran Coso tomorrow. This main parade starts any time after 4pm and will lead off from the Paloma Beach complex down by the Arona Gran hotel, arriving eventually at the Cultural Centre. It will be followed by a great party in the Carnival Precinct opposite the Valdés Centre.

On Monday, 27th, the end will be nigh, at least for the poor sardine, whose funeral will be accompanied by the traditional weeping (drag) widows. The whole thing starts at 9pm from the Plaza del Pescador in front of the Cultural Centre and will parade, in very tragi-comic form, to the beach where the poor old sardine will be burnt, returning amongst much wailing the the Plaza del Pescador for the carnival’s Fin de Carnaval party.

Although this is the end for the 2017 carnival, you can already vote HERE for the theme for Santa Cruz Carnaval 2018! The choices are carnival on ice; Fantasia; New York; the Old West; Savannah; the Renaissance; and Ancient Greece. Currently, Fantasia is in the lead followed by Ancient Greece. In Tenerife, Carnaval is always nearby, one way or another! Hasta la próxima!

Updated 17 March: And here it is. The Los Cristianos carnival starts today with the presentation of the candidates for carnival queen, and tomorrow the opening parade will start at 7pm from C. C. Gala in Avda. Rafael Puig Lluvina heading for C. C. Oasis in Avda. Las Américas.. From now until the end of March, Los Cristianos is de fiesta!

Updated 15 March: There will be major traffic disruption in Los Cristianos as a result of the carnival until 29 March, a fortnight today, Arona Ayuntamiento says. The full extent of the diversions and restrictions is detailed on eight pages HERE, with maps, but it essentially boils down to traffic avoiding the centre of town, and not trying to park in the main areas.

Updated 10 March: The Los Cristianos carnival starts in a week’s time but before then another popular carnival in south Tenerife starts at 9pm this evening in Los Gigantes. The whole thing is spread over this and next weekend, and the full programme is now HERE. The carnival’s theme is “the farm”, and its queen will be chosen tonight; tomorrow night from 11pm there will be a fancy dress prize dance, and then on Sunday from 5pm the opening parade. Next weekend,  the sardine will be buried at 9pm on Friday with much wailing, music, dancing and the big fireworks display, and Saturday the 18th will be a day of carnival partying followed by the grand closing dance.

Updated 2 March: Now that the sardine is buried in Santa Cruz, all attention shifts south to Los Cristianos, where the council has now unveiled the Southern Carnival. This year’s theme is Las Vegas, and the playing card design of the poster (left) references the gambling centre of the world as well as the tension between good and evil, the element of “transgression” before penance appropriate to the carnival period and its relationship with Lent.

The full programme for the Los Cristianos carnival is HERE, but the main events will be the selection of the carnival queen on Thursday, 23 March, the Carnaval del Día on Saturday 25th, the Gran Coso (main parade) on Sunday 26th, and the burial of the sardine on Monday 27th.

The council says that there will be an official carnival song – Póker de Carnaval – by Tenerife singer Míriam Reyes with an accompanying video to be released online at 5pm next Wednesday. The open air carnival precinct will have free stepped seating for the first time for audiences to see the gala performances, which will involve some 6,000 participants and three full stages. There will also be a mobile app for the whole fiesta which will transform the town between 17 and 27 March, not least with pretty widespread disruption with extra security and significant traffic diversions.

Updated 28 February: Today and tomorrow are arguably by far the most popular days of the Santa Cruz carnival. The main parade – the Coso – will take place today at 4pm, and the Cabildo and Titsa have laid on extra buses, with several thousand seats arranged in stands along the route where the queens and the comparsas (dancing groups), and many others, will parade. Even so there will be many more there than can comfortably be seated. Many travel companies and hotels have also laid on buses to take tourists up to see the show and get the full carnival experience.

Because the carnival is associated with Lent and Easter, the Coso takes place on Shrove Tuesday, the Martes de Carnaval which we know better as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent proper, and so the sardine is buried in a tradition involving 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 the carnival.

The Santa Cruz Carnival comes to a close this weekend, with a Day Carnival from 1pm on Saturday and the Grand Finale on Sunday.

Photo: Carnaval de Tenerife

Updated 23 February: Judith López representing Fuente Alta was chosen as Reina del Carnaval at the main gala in Santa Cruz’ Recinto Ferial last night. She was wearing a fantasia called Madame Soleil designed by Jorge Gonzalez. Judith is now the carnival queen, and with her selection, the full party moves onto the streets for Semana Grande – the “big week” of the Santa Cruz Carnaval.

During next week, many businesses throughout Tenerife will be operating partial hours, and banks may be closing earlier than usual. Quite a few municipalities have 28 February, the Tuesday of Semana Grande – Martes de Carnaval – as one of their two public fiesta days: among others, Arona, San Miguel, Granadilla, and Icod do, for example, though Adeje, Guía de Isora and Puerto de la Cruz do not – the full list of municipal, and regional public holidays is HERE.

And for those who would like a taste of the carnival without actually being there, Canary Live 24 often has a series of webcams for a live stream, just click HERE, and HERE is the official website which should carry information about its own streamed webcams.

Updated 21 January: The full calendar for the Santa Cruz Carnaval has now been published. Just click on the thumbnails below to see full size.

Updated 18 January 2017: A popular carnival in south Tenerife is that of Los Gigantes, and the dates for that are now confirmed as 10,11,12,17 & 18 March. The theme is “the farm”, and the main events will be the selection of the carnival queen on Friday, 10 March, the Gran Coso on the 12th, the burial of the sardine on Friday 17th, and the carnaval del día on the 18th.

loscristianoscarnival2017lasvegasjpgUpdated 11 November 2016: I’ve been asked several times about the date for the Los Cristianos carnival, and am happy to be able to say that it’s now confirmed for 17-27 March. The theme will be Las Vegas, and the poster (left) has now been officially unveiled, with the playing card design reflecting the gambling centre of the world, but also the tension between good and evil appropriate to the carnival period and its relationship with Lent. The full programme for the “southern carnival” is HERE.

Original post 22 August: The Santa Cruz Carnaval 2017 will take place between 22 February and 5 March. The final full programme is still being fleshed out, but the carnival queen will be elected on 22 February, then the carnival moves onto the streets with the opening parade on the 24th. The Carnaval de Día will be on Sunday 26th, and the main Coso parade on the 28th. The burial of the sardine will follow on 1 March, with another Carnaval de Día on Saturday 4th. The Fin de Fiesta party with fireworks will bring the carnival to an end on Sunday 5th. The official website for Carnaval 2017 is HERE, and there’s a Facebook page HERE. After last year’s theme of The 1980s, 2017’s will be 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. In Santa Cruz’ 2017 carnival, the main parade will be on Tuesday, 28 February, and the burial of the sardine on Wednesday 1 March.

Two other Carnavals of great local interest are in Los Cristianos and Puerto de la Cruz. The first will be between 17 and 27 March, with Puerto de la Cruz – based on the theme of the Circus – between 19 February and 5 March, with the main parade on Saturday 4 March. For the moment, it’s still only August and we’re already on Carnaval countdown!


  1. Hi..could you please tell me the dates for Los Cristianos Carnival 2018??

    1. Author

      no sorry, long way off being able to do so. All updates for all aspects of Carnaval 2018 will be posted on the post HERE.

  2. Janet may I ask what is last years theme for carnava was in 2016

  3. Janet, can I just add that in Adeje public schools close next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – so it’s a shorter mid-term break than usual, and to stress, as you did mention in the comprehensive piece above, Tuesday is NOT a public holiday for the rest of the borough – only schools are closed on that day.

  4. Hello, will there be much in the way of street parties at the beginning of the month?

    1. Author

      Not especially, it’s mainly the murga competitions.

  5. Hello, do you know the theme of the puerto de la Cruz one on the 4th march?

  6. Thanks for your information! You are the best source to information about the island that I love so much! Do you know when the main parade is in Los Cristianos?

    1. Author

      Not yet. As I say, the Los Cristianos carnival is confirmed for 17-27 March, and the full programme will be published nearer the time.

  7. Are the dates for the Los Gigantes Carnival confirmed yet?

    1. Author

      I haven’t come across confirmed dates, but would think mid-March.

  8. Thank you for the information, as I can now look at dates for return tickets back to the U.K.!

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