Festivals in Tenerife, Carnival and much more
The festivals in Tenerife are as numerous as they are varied and popular with the masses. This is due to the personality of the island’s locals: open, festive and extremely devoted to their traditions and identifying symbols.
This also explains why Tenerife’s biggest festival, Carnival is one of the most important street celebrations in Europe.
However, there are festivals in Tenerife throughout the year, not just February. Most have a religious connection, a spirituality that is intertwined with keeping traditions alive, even those dating back to pre-Hispanic times.
The text that follows contains descriptions of some of the most interesting and popular festivals in Tenerife.
Of all the festivals in Tenerife, Carnival draws the biggest crowds thanks to its fun and colourful nature. This celebration is so important that it has been declared of International Tourist Interest. In fact, it is viewed as the world’s second-most important Carnival by many people, followed by the one in Rio de Janeiro, which happens to be the sister city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Three key events stand out in Tenerife’s Carnival calendar:
- Selection of the Carnival Queen: Hundreds of artists and dozens of musical ensembles participate in the gala. All of this serves as the prelude for choosing the Carnival Queen, who dons an elaborate (or fantasy) dress decorated with countless feathers, rhinestones, sequins and a great deal of colour and creativity.
- Cabalgata Anunciadora [Opening Parade]: This takes place on the Friday before Ash Wednesday, and virtually the entire city participates. Thousands of people in costume along with dozens of musical ensembles are the heart and soul of this festival that delights anyone who visits Tenerife to witness this collective performance.
- Coso [Closing Parade]: This event serves as the closing ceremony for Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The parade takes place along the city’s waterfront and includes the Carnival Queen, her ladies in waiting, an array of floats and musical ensembles during several hours of joy, dancing and colour.
Corpus Christi in La Orotava
Of all the festivals in Tenerife, the Corpus Christi celebration in La Orotava is perhaps the most striking. This is because of the meticulousness with which most of the streets in the historic quarter are covered in flower petals, particularly the square in front of the city hall: Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
Ephemeral works of art are created using these petals to pay tribute to the Corpus Christi procession. The festival usually takes place in June, although the date varies according to Holy Week.
A similar event linked to Corpus Christi is also held in La Laguna.
Holy Week in Tenerife
Like in many parts of Spain, Holy Week is one of the most important festivals in Tenerife. Although there are processions throughout the island, the most popular can be found in:
- Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Good Friday is the day with the most processions, reaching a total of 13.
- La Laguna: This city hosted the first processions to take place in the Canary Islands. It is viewed by many as an open-air museum due to the age and artistic value of the images that are carried through the streets and squares of this lovely town. An example is Cristo de La Laguna.
- La Orotava: This village has several hundred-year-old brotherhoods. One of the most important is Santa Vera Cruz y Misericordia. According to tradition, most of the processions take place on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, with images of great historic and artistic value as the centrepieces.
- Los Realejos: Good Friday is the date of the procession for the image of El Nazareno, a piece dating back to the seventeenth century and carved by Martín Andújar Cantos. This is probably the town’s procession with the most devotion.
Virgen del Carmen Boat Procession
Around 16 July, boat processions sail from several of Tenerife’s ports. These celebrations, in honour of Virgen del Carmen, the protector of seamen, perfectly represent Tenerife’s summer festivities.
One of the most colourful and popular (with nearly 100,000 people) is the Virgen del Carmen Boat Procession, which takes place in Puerto de la Cruz. The image is revered year-round at the church Peña de Francia, where it shares honours with the Great Power of God.
The procession travels along the city’s coastline, with numerous boats decorated with flowers and wreaths. However, the religious ceremony also includes events over the course of three weeks.
Other festivals in Tenerife
The festivals listed so far are perhaps the most well known in Tenerife. However, as we mentioned earlier, the island has many celebrations throughout the year. Below are a few examples so visitors may enjoy Tenerife’s festivities:
- Romería de San Marcos religious pilgrimage (Tegueste): This festival, which takes place on the Sunday closest to 25 April, is one of the most important religious public holidays in the Canary Islands. It marks the start of the religious pilgrimage season in Tenerife.
- Day of the Canary Islands: Held on 30 May, it commemorates the first session of the archipelago’s Parliament. Although this public holiday clearly has a purely institutional nature, it also includes many popular leisure events. Celebrations are held in Tenerife and in the other Canary Islands.
- Romería de San Benito religious pilgrimage (La Laguna): This festival begins on the second Sunday in July and lasts 15 days. Participants tend to wear the island’s traditional attire and there are many performances featuring local folklore.
- San Isidro (La Orotava): This festival takes place in June and partly coincides with the Corpus Christi It consists of a religious pilgrimage around the chapel Nuestra Señora de la Piedad.
- Santísimo Cristo de La Laguna: This image, mentioned earlier in the section on Holy Week in Tenerife, is the highlight of another procession, this time to the Cathedral of La Laguna on 14 September. There is also a spectacular fireworks display that evening.