Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Parade 2013

I've heard many times that the carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is something worth watching. "Second biggest in the world", "immediately after one ends, everybody starts preparing for the next one", "amount of feathers and sequins like you won't believe", etc, etc...
Last year we were quite content with much more humble offering of Corralejo and Puerto del Rosario, but this year I figured I should go have a look at Tenerife.
Now, I am not an expert on carnivals. Carnivals that I saw in the UK are basically few days affairs, sometimes just one-day affair, when you have a procession and that's pretty much it. Here it is not the case - various events leading up to the main parade start a few weeks in advance. But I couldn't of course drop everything and go for a few weeks, so I restricted myself to just four days. That allowed me to see the two biggest parades on the island - one in Santa Cruz on the day of arrival, one in Puerto de la Cruz on the day of departure, with the Burial of the Sardine and drag "put your heels on" parade in Puerto fitted in between.

I arrived to Santa Cruz well before the parade was due to start and had a pleasure of seeing people assembling for it, putting on their costumes and doing all those last minute things that tend to prevent almost every event in Canarias from starting on time.
It was good thing that I caught some pre-parade pics, as the weather started to turn worse. I am sorry to say that it did rain on their parade at some point.

Above looks like a school group; the big guy with a slinky could even be a teacher, difficult to say with all this makeup on.

Little helpers. Most samba groups contained people of amazingly varied ages - from very small kids to (mostly) ladies of rather advanced age, who would nevertheless dress more or less exactly like their much younger companions and have a lot of fun. In fact it quite often looks like the older the participant, the more fun she or he has, younger ones tend to be more preoccupied with how they look.

Love the polka dots.
The white affair you see to the right is the dress of the queen of the carnival. I didn't manage to catch a good picture of her, but I am really happy with my pictures of my favorite "pretender to the throne" - beautiful woman in the very first picture.

Look at the strap under the chin. Feather or not, this headgear is not light. Many women in the procession spend almost all of their time holding it up with one hand, including the queen and almost all of the "pretenders", apart from the one who somehow managed to wriggle out of having one.

Arrival of my favourite to one of the vantage points that I managed to occupy. You can see how much space and people separated me from the first row. I would say that the crowd along the barriers was about four-deep most of the time.
One possible strategy to get in the first row is to arrive earlier, get into the position and stand there. Unlike Notting Hill, where you apparently should arrive a few hours earlier, I'd say about half an hour before the start is enough here, but you will have to position yourself towards the end of the route. That's what was suggested by one of the security staff I spoke to, but I did want those "before the parade" pics, so I ended up walking along the route, trying to climb onto whatever slight elevation I could find. 

Liked this guy. With that getup, his whip and a peg in the ear he provided more entertainment for the crowd that some of the twenty-strong samba bands. Those tend to get samey after, oh I dunno, about tenth?

It was a good parade, definitely worth watching, but it didn't quite come up to my expectations. Some people in the crowd were saying that it was scaled down this your because of the unfortunate accident that I don't want to relate here. I am not sure if that was the case, or maybe the economic slump reflects even on carnivals, the upshot is it was not as good as usual.

So maybe I'll check again next year.

pics from Tenerife at shutterstock


nameless__one said...

Catching up on your older posts. Great photos and description!

nameless__one said...


Tamara Kulikova said...

doing my not-so-humble best, as usual :)