The ultimate Guide to Carnival in Tenerife (for tourists and newcomers)
Are you arriving in Tenerife within the next few weeks? You either have carefully chosen the dates to arrive in Carnival, or it is just a wonderful coincidence. Either way, you happen to be on the island during the most vibrant, fun and magical time of the year and there’s nothing you can do but surrender to its magic!
The Carnival of Tenerife is the second largest carnival celebration in the world, and it’s definitely the biggest and most important event in the Canary Islands. During this two-week long event, more than 200,000 party-goers converge every night in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to fill the streets up with color, glitter and happiness.
If this is your first experience at Tenerife’s Carnival, you might feel a little lost about the whole thing. Don’t worry. Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife’s Guide to Carnival for Newcomers is born to make your life easier, so your only job will be partying like there’s no tomorrow!
Let’s start from the basics:
1. When exactly does Carnival take place?
Dates are different every year, so you can easily get confused. There are many minor events taking place during the whole month of February, but the official kick-off to Carnival is the Friday after the “Carnival Queen Election Gala”. In 2017, the Gala will take place on Wednesday 22th February. That means Tenerife will start partying on Friday 24th!
- First Weekend – the warming up! Nights of Friday 24th, Saturday 25th, and Sunday 26th.
- Clean Monday, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday: Nights of Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 1st.
- Second Weekend – big closing party: Friday night, Day Carnival on Saturday 4th and big closing party on Sunday 5th night.
2. How to get there?
Going by car is not a good idea. You are way too optimistic if you have any hopes of finding a parking space in Santa Cruz during Carnival. Trust us. The only reasonable option is getting there by bus – unless you are willing to pay for a private parking garage or a taxi.
From Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, this is the itinerary you need to follow: Take the bus number 471 to Los Cristianos. The bus stops in both Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje Bus Station. Get off the bus in any of them, as both have connection with Santa Cruz. Next step is taking the bus number 110 or 111 to Santa Cruz.
Check out the time table of bus number 471 here. Departures for buses 111 are normally every 30 minutes, but the frequency is always increased during carnival. Once you arrive in Santa Cruz, just follow the mass of dressed up people. They will lead you to the heart of Santa Cruz, where magic happens.
3. Do I really need to dress up?
Rule number one of Carnival: NEVER SHOW UP AT THE STREET PARTY IN NORMAL CLOTHES. Normal clothes plus a fake wig is not an option either. Trust us, you are going to feel weird and out of place from the very moment you step in the bus. Spend some time finding a decent costume and remember: always wear sneakers.
4. When to start the street party
Music performances start every night around 8pm, but the real party begins a few hours later. Turning up at the street party before midnight is too early. Leaving before 4am is too early as well. The only exception is Saturday 4th, when Daytime Carnival takes place. It is exactly the same kind of street party than the rest of the days, but starting at 1pm.
5. Eating and drinking at the street party
Start warming up at the hotel, enjoying the Happy Hour of our UTC Lobby Bar. It’s probably the only decent drinks you will get during the night. After that, forget about nice gin tonics and perfectly mixed cocktails. This is how drinking in Carnival works: some people carry their own bottles of self-mixed drinks; some others stick to the kiosks selling “cañas” and “combinados”. A glass of beer – also known as “caña” – can range from 1€ to 2€. The price for a “combinado” or mixed drink is normally around 4€.
Food kiosks are also everywhere in case you need an energy hit at any point of the night: hot dogs, burgers, chips, churros and sandwiches are the most popular snacks. Apart from street kiosks, some bars are also open. Prices can be a little bit higher in bars, but at least this gives you an opportunity to use a decent toilet as well!
6. I am not into partying, but still want to experience Carnival
Carnival is much more that a street party. There are many other minor events you can enjoy. Including colorful parades, dancing exhibitions and carnival contests. The biggest Carnival Parade takes place on Fat Tuesday (Tuestay 28th). All the carnival groups including “murgas”, “comparsas” and “rondallas” are part of this big parade, but the main attraction are the Carnival Queen and her Maids of Honor. You will be able to admire their spectacular hand-made costumes – covered in colorful feathers, sequins and jewels – that sometimes are higher than 5m, and weigh over 80kg.
7. Is Carnival Child Friendly?
Children are the ones who enjoy the most. Obviously, the late night street party is not for them, but there are many other activities and events for them during the day. A perfect plan for families is going all together to the Carnival Parade and spend some time at the fun fair afterwards.
8. Carnival in minor cities
Carnival in Tenerife is endless. When the party in Santa Cruz comes to its end, the smallest cities start their own celebration. So don’t worry if your holidays don’t coincide with the Carnival of Santa Cruz, you might have another chance in Puerto de la Cruz or Los Cristianos.
The International Carnival of Los Cristianos is the biggest Carnival Celebration in the south area. It is just 20 minutes away from Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife and there’s a direct bus that departures from Playa Paraíso. The bus stop is just outside the hotel.
The Carnival of Los Cristianos officialy starts on Friday 17th March, and it ends with “The Burial of the Sardine” on Monday 27th March. The street party takes place from Thursday 23rd on, and the most attractive parade is on Sunday 26th from 4pm.
9. Our own Carnival at Children of the 80’s!
At Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife you don’t need to stick to Carnival to dress up in fancy dress costumes! Children of the 80’s is on once a month, so you can wear fancy 80’s outfits all year around! Check out the exact dates on the website and join the fun!