Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife: The Biggest Bash in the Canary Islands

2-2016 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain Carnaval WM.jpg

Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2019: The Biggest Bash in the Canary Islands

January is usually considered a time to tighten up the budget and the post-holiday buns and to settle in for the less festive side of winter; but as most of Spain is packing up their poinsettias and nibbling on the last crumbs of turrón and Roscón de Reyes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is just warming up for the real party…


There are few festivities that strike up the same enthusiasm amongst Chicharreros (Santa Cruz locals) than this beloved bacchanal of extravagant costumes, Latin rhythms, flamboyant parades and general debauchery in the streets until the wee hours of the morning noon the next day. After all, as any Chicharrero will tell you, Carnaval in Santa Cruz is second only to the world-renowned celebrations of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

For 15 days, the capital of Tenerife transforms from a small and serene seaside city to an explosion of vibrant colors, upbeat tempos and above all: glitter.  I spent two unforgettable Carnaval seasons getting down and dirty in Santa Cruz (and the last two in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria!), and I guarantee you that it’s truly something you have to see to believe, but undoubtedly something you won’t ever forget.

2019 Carnaval Theme:
The Deep Sea

Carnaval del Día. Vegueta, Las Palmas. 2-2017 (7)

The Chicharreros choose a unique theme every year, and 2019 is The Deep Sea (Las profundidades marinas). While it’s not necessary to stick to the theme when choosing your costume (in fact, most Santa Cruz locals don’t), I’m predicting we’ll see plenty of jelly fish, sailors and enough mermaids to lure the entire royal navy to the depths of the Atlantic.

When to Book Your Trip

2-2015 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain Carnaval (62) WM
Calle Clavel. Carnaval del Día Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Carnaval dates change annually based on Easter and the start of lent, typically falling between somewhere between late January to early March. Though some Carnaval traditions begin early (murga competitions, queen galas, etc.), the dressing-up, DJs and debauchery begin the weekend before Ash Wednesday.

In 2019, the best time to visit Tenerife for Carnaval de Santa Cruz is from

Friday, 1st March, 2019 to Sunday, 10th March, 2019 

Be sure to book your trip for at least one of the two weekends! And if your schedule permits, the Entierro de la Sardina on Wednesday, 6 March, 2019 is by far the strangest, and in my book, the best night of the event.

2019 Main Events

Festival Weekend One

Friday, 1st March, 2019 – Carnaval Opening Parade Carnaval Santa Cruz de Tenerife
(La Cabalgata Anunciadora)

Saturday, 2nd March, 2019 – Paaaartaaay (evening)

Sunday, 3rd March, 2019: Daytime Carnaval
(Carnaval del Día, 13:00)

Tuesday, 5th March, 2019: Grand Parade 16:00
(Coso Apoteosis del Carnaval)

Wed, 6th March, 2019: Burial of the Sardine**
(Entierro de la Sardina 20:00)

Festival Weekend Two: “Piñata Chica”

Saturday, 9th March, 2019 – Daytime Carnaval (Carnaval del Día)

Sunday, 10th March, 2019 – Last Day! Fireworks 🎆🎆 (Exhibición pirotécnica)

Click here for a full list of events at the 2019 Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Carnaval Santa Cruz de Tenerife
“Pick the apple, bite the apple, throw the apple away…”

What to Pack

The Costume

Unless you have a costume that you’ve planned and prepared beforehand, I suggest picking something up when you arrive. All of the “Chino” shops and bazaars are full to the brim with tutus, wigs, leotards, props, and the prepackaged sort of costume sets that we typically associate with Halloween. Buying your costume on arrival will lighten your luggage and help to stimulate the local economy 😉

Carnaval Santa Cruz de Tenerife
This is why you don’t pack your favorite shoes…

You will, however, want to pack a pair of shoes that you won’t mind getting wet, dirty, and (let’s be honest) pretty disgusting. Days on end of partying leaves the streets murky at best, and most Carnaval-goers tend to be practical with their footwear, choosing comfort and practicality over perfect costume coordination.

Day to Day Gear

Layers are key in February and early March. Winter in the Canaries is very mild, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be warm. February temperatures are unpredictable and can mean anything from bikini beach sunbathing to cool, windy, coat weather – and every now and then, some rain.

Pack a stash of long and short sleeves for layering, and a water resistant jacket and shoes. Winter evenings are typically cool, but the calor humano from the hordes of merrymakers will keep you warm while dancing in the wee hours.

Oh. And lots of Paracetemol.

Where to Stay

Carnaval Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Calle Anaga, Dancin’ the night away

If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, now is definitely the time! The festivities are spread out throughout the small city, so booking anywhere within Santa Cruz will be convenient enough. If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, steer clear of anything near Weyler, Teatro Guimera and Calle Anaga. There are plenty of Airbnb options in the city, but prices for both Airbnb and hotels will be on the rise this time a year.

If you can’t find anything available in Santa Cruz, consider staying up the hill in the nearby UNESCO World Heritage city of La Laguna. La Laguna is about 40 minutes away by tram or 10 minutes by taxi. It’s charming, well-connected to Santa Cruz and worth exploring while you’re in the area. Be warned though – Tenerife has crazy micro climates and La Laguna is waaay cooler than the coastal capital, so you’ll want to pack some warmer gear if staying here.

If you’re new to AirBnb, feel free to use my referral link and receive a €25 travel credit for your first stay!

Can’t Wait for Carnaval?

Me neither! This year will be my third time celebrating in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and I’ve been busy preparing my costume and getting ready to get down!

Before you pack your bags, take a peek at my “Dos & Don’ts of Carnival in Santa Cruz” and find out:
What’s a murga?
Where’s the best place to watch the parades?
How does the Queen get around in a 100kg gown?
And why do I insist you stay for a late night Wednesday to watch a papier mâché sardine go up in smoke?

Love & Light, Erica 💙

© Erica Edwards and, 2016 – 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Erica Edwards and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


44 Comments Add yours

  1. Gabriel says:

    I´m planning to go to Carnaval in Tenerife this year. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gina says:

    I’ve heard great things about this carnival!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      It’s MASSIVE! The Canarians consider it second only to the one in Rio 🙂


  3. This festival looks like a lot of fun. I’m planning to visit Spain again next year. Will definitely check this festival out. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      You surely won’t be dissapointed! Which Spanish cities are you planning to visit?


  4. Danik says:

    I never even heard of this festival and visited the canary islands quite a few times. Looks like a good party to check out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Canarians love a good party! Maybe you can book your next visit in time to check it out!


  5. Felisha says:

    Looks like so much fun. Ive never heard of this before. Would love to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      It’s a blast!


  6. Carnival sounds so exciting and interesting, I like the sound of dressing us in the themes. I like that you don’t have to go to Rio just for carnival.


  7. We are big fans of general debauchery and have been looking for the best Carnival in Europe. For tradition sake, I have always considered Venice to be destination, but you make some strong points. Any party that includes wide spread public urination in costume has an almost guaranteed level of debauchery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I’ve still yet to visit Carnaval in Venice but it’s on my list! Their version is much more elegant – people spend hundreds of euros on the traditional costumes! A few years ago I never cared much about Carnaval, but after living in the midst of it, I’m curious to check out Venice, Rio and Mardis Gras in New Orleans!


  8. Lance says:

    I have never heard of Carnaval in the Canary Islands, but it sounds like quiet a party. I like that the festivities are spread over a couple of weekends. Great tips for purchasing a costume and bringing practical shoes.


  9. Tee says:

    This sounds like quite an adventure! Thank you for the tip about the shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Denny George says:

    Very informative post for anyone planning to attend the carnaval. Seems like quite the party, and your photos capture the spirit of the carnaval perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      It’s a wild ride, and defintely worth checking out once!


  11. quartz says:

    The colorful hairs totally gives the party feel. This is one carnival which was not in my list till now but I think I must visit as it looks fun . But I am def not carrying my favorite shoes lol .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      Haha, you’re right about the shoes! It’s truly one of a kind, and Canarians definitely know how to have a good time!


  12. Petra says:

    This sounds and looks awesome! I am definitely going next year 😁 thanks for sharing all the info that will be really helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      You’ll love it! If you’re living in Madrid, you may even be able to book a cheeky weekend to celebrate this year 😉 Just a few weeks away!


  13. lilal06 says:

    I’ve never heard of this carnaval before! It sounds and looks like so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Renata says:

    Many interesting info in this article: I didn’t know that Carnaval is so big in Spain – nota bene in Teneriffa, too. And I didn’t know that the date changes according to Easter. It’s over two weeks? Wow! Especially since short after that they have Semana Santa, which is also very big in Spain; gosh, these guys sure now how to celebrate!


    1. Erica says:

      The Spanish definitely know how to have a good time! The dates change according to Easter because Carnaval is traditionally a time to let loose before the somber lent season begins (just like Mardis Gras!).


  15. annakapys says:

    What a fantastic post! I’ve been to Tenerife couple of years ago during the carnival but… we didn’t know it was happening and we went to the South of the island instead. 😦 Then when we were climbing Teide we met some people who told us about the sardine thingie and I was like arrrggg… we should have visited the capital! Anyway maybe next time – with your tips I’m more than ready!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dani says:

    This festival looks so neat and fun! I have never actually attended an event like this but it looks like something that would be fun. I love all of your pictures as the costumes are so neat and very colorful! Thank you for sharing this!


  17. Constance says:

    I’d love to see a carnaval someday. It looks like so much fun. I love the rundown of all the vents you listed, thank you so much for sharing!


  18. carolcolborn says:

    This post just changed my mind. I was going to go to Mexico for winter next year. I didn’t know the Carnaval is second only to the Rio celebs. And we have a timeshare in Tenerife and the Canary Islands!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sarah says:

    The Festival looks amazing, the colours, the people, the atmosphere. I might have to add it to my itinerary next trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. josh says:

    That definitely looks like a proper party! Anything with fancy dress is pretty cool!


  21. I never knew this existed, never mind the fact that it’s the second largest Carnaval. I wish I booked this trip instead of another for that week! I guess I’ll try again next year!


  22. Kyle says:

    Sounds like a fun festival! I love the tip on wearing not so great shoes and the picture along with it LOL I’ll have to try to time our visit to the Canary Islands along with carnaval!


  23. Varsha says:

    This will be a fun destination. Carnivals are always happening and energized places. Nice information and great photos.


  24. Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife seems to be a vibrant and colourful celebration. I was not aware of this, but considering it is second only to the carnival of Rio De Janeiro,it sure must be massive.


  25. Leah says:

    I actually had no idea Tenerife had a carnival like this – it looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. lukeandmeagan says:

    Oh my gosh, what a wild ride this looks like! Carnaval celebrations are always stunners, and this one looks no different 🙂 also, your photos are fantastic and the info you provide is very helpful. Great writeup!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Amy says:

    This looks like so much fun! I love a good street carnival, nothing quite like it as you watch the city/town being transformed to a massive celebration. Love the “don’t pack your good shoes” photo! Hilarious:)


  28. dagniee says:

    I have always been in Venice for the carnival and it’s cold in there so I always wonder how it is to be at a Carnival festival in a hot season. Pretty cool I guess 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica says:

      I’ve always wanted to go to Venice for Carnaval! Did you wear a traditional costume? I think that would be incredible !

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Arnav Mathur says:

    Haven’t yet attended a carnival, or a festival, but I so want to do. The place transforms completely during the time of the carnival, and you have captured the essence of the transformed place completely.


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