Home to the second largest carnival in the world and the largest in Spain, the annual Tenerife Carnival has just announced that it will take the theme of ‘New York’ for its 2023 edition. Those who got a taste for music, dancing and colourful parades at the recent Notting Hill Carnival can scale up in 2023 with a visit to Tenerife for increased extravagance.

Hosted in Santa Cruz, the island’s capital city, the 2023 Tenerife Carnival will take place from 20 January to 26 February 2023, with the street Carnival taking place specifically from 17 to 26 February 2023. With exciting events, parades and parties taking place through the day and night, those in search of elation and liberation will not be disappointed.

Below are three unmissable celebrations taking place during the carnival period:

15 February 2023 – Carnival Queen Election Gala

The Carnival Queen Election Gala is the all-important evening where the Carnival Queen is crowned, who is chosen amongst over a dozen candidates. The contestants wear the most spectacular costumes, made mainly of feathers, plastic, metal and rhinestones. These costumes can each weigh up to 400 kg. This year will also be the first-ever year where a junior Gala King is announced. 

17 February 2023 – Opening Parade of the Carnival

It will come as no surprise that the opening parade kicks off the carnival in style. Boasting vibrancy, music and a sea of colour, it features the lead Carnival Queen, “murga” street music groups, “comparsa” bands and “rondallas” playing traditional old carnival songs parading down the streets of Santa Cruz.

21 February 2023 – Big Carnival Parade in Santa Cruz

Known as the Coso Apoteosis, this parade is arguably the highlight of the entire festivities. Visitors from all around the world flock to Anaga Avenue in Santa Cruz to witness the spectacle, featuring all the Carnival Queens and all the Carnival groups, floats, incredible dance routines and musical performances – a celebration like no other.

Additional events:

  • 22 February 2023: Burial of the Sardine – A humorous and grotesque procession of mourners saying goodbye to the carnival celebrations.
  • 19 February & 25 February 2023: Daytime Carnival – A popular event for children and families, featuring plenty of activities to keep all entertained.
  • 26 February 2023: Parade of Vintage Cars, Piñata and End of Party

In addition to the ticketed official carnival events, there are a number of spontaneous street events/activities to enjoy for free. For those looking to celebrate the occasion in Tenerife style, then participation in one of the night carnival parties is a must.

Carnival Groups

A carnival group is a group of people who work together creating ideas, costumes, music, choreography, who all march together in the parade. Tenerife Carnival features hundreds of different groups but two of the key ones to look out for are below:

  • Murgas: The “Murgas” are Spanish carnival groups that feature satire artists, performing songs about current political and world events;
  • Comparsas: The “comparsas” represent the Brazilian influence on Tenerife’s Carnival, filling it with rhythm, colour and joy. Nowadays, the comparsas own the street with the undeniable quality of their live performances to surprise even the most frequent carnival-goers on their nights out.
  • Rondallas: The Rondallas are carnival groups that consist of only guitars, bandurrias, lauds and octavinas.

History of the Tenerife Carnival

The Spaniards and Portuguese introduced carnival to Tenerife in the sixteenth century under presumably religious origins. Over the years, it evolved until the prosperity of the 1920s arrived, favouring the celebration to the point that in 1925, the first Carnival Programme was established by the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Though the Spanish Civil War brought it to a pause, many continued to celebrate in the privacy of their homes. In 1961, the celebration of Carnival resumed under the euphemistic name of Winter Festivities, which in 1967 were declared a Celebration of National Tourist Interest. Eventually the Carnival recovered its name and became the ultimate festivity of Santa Cruz, which was declared a Celebration of International Tourist Interest in 1980. Since then, Tenerife Carnival has become the world’s second most popular carnival after Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Visitors to Tenerife can discover the history and culture of Tenerife Carnival at La Casa Del Carnaval, located in Barranco de Santos next to the bridge Puente Galcerán. Home to a permanent exhibition hall featuring costumes and key items relating to the carnival, visitors can book onto a tour and become a carnival connoisseur.

For more information on Tenerife Carnival 2023, please visit: https://www.webtenerife.co.uk/what-to-do/carnival/

For more information on Tenerife, please visit: