Robot Buggies & Missing Wings in Tenerife News of the Week

Icarus by Julio Nieto

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Canarios are worst paid in Spain
Once again the Canary Islands have topped a statistical table, this time for being the lowest paid workers in Spain, earning on average €16.29 per hour, way below the top earners, the Basque Country who come in at €23.09 (there must be a lot of high earners out there to make these figures the average). Newspaper comments blamed everybody from illegal immigrants to mainland Spanish to foreigners for the Canaries being at the foot of the stairs. As is usually the case nobody actually pointed a finger inwards or compared work experience and educational/vocational qualifications between Spain’s autonomous communities. With Wild West business practices being what they are on Tenerife, it was a shock that enough people had actually been paid to be able to provide the compilers with a statistical figure.

Robotic Tenerife
There are all sorts of weird and wonderful vehicles on Tenerife at the moment. Apart from the cast of Fast and Furious 6 pushing the pedal to the metal on Tenerife’s highways, a team of scientists were testing out a much slower vehicle on the Minas de San José in Teide National Park. The robot, called Idris, looking like a sort of intellectual quad, was brought to Tenerife by Aberystwyth University’s Department of Computer Science to spend a few days using the other-worldly landscape as a stand in for Mars. Maybe the money the island gets from the Fast & Furious crew using the ring road at Guia de Isora could be put towards actually finishing the dormant white elephant.

Not Open for Business
What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Teide National Park Visitors” Centre in La Orotava? It opened to a great fanfare a year and a half ago.
Possibly the reason that the flagship building has been somewhat anonymous since, is that when it enjoyed its inaugural opening it wasn’t exactly ready. In fact, 18 months down the line it still isn’t. There’s this crisis you see and funds are in short supply. All of which is understandable but does beg the question why throw an opening bash for an empty building?
There’s quiet optimism that the ‘new’ centre might be open before the year is out. But as it has taken eight years to get the Teide National Park Visitors” Centre to this unfinished stage, it’s probably wise not to hold your breath.

And finally the TIT (This is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… A Pair of Tenerife Truckers
Anyone who’s marvelled at the incredible work of talented La Orotava based sculptor Julio Nieto will be gob-smacked to learn that it’s thought a truck driver mistook one of his works, Icarus, for scrap and made off with the tragic fellow’s wings.
In a scenario that borders on farce, a truck driver responsible for transporting the steel sculpture left Icarus” wings by the side of the road in La Matanza whilst he moved the rest of the work of art (presumably his truck wasn’t big enough to take the lot).
Apart from the fact that leaving a work of art unattended by the side of the road seems – let’s be blunt – quite a stupid act, it looks as though the dim-witted truck driver was unlucky into the bargain. Another truck, with space to store a huge pair of metal wings, just happened to be passing on the same road at the wrong time and made off with an unexpected ‘scrap’ windfall.
Julio Nieto has requested that anyone who spots an unusual pair of steel wings flying about Tenerife get in touch with him on 670 800 265 as he’d like to reacquaint Icarus with his metal feathers. On Tenerife it seems that Icarus might have more chance of survival flying closer to the sun than keeping his shiny feet on terra firma.

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Investigating Memories of the Past in La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz

Compelling detective stories usually begin with a crime; often a heinous murder. Thankfully this one doesn’t. It begins with a clue – “Guy Attwood from A A H 1898 ““ views of Orotava, Tenerife”.
It’s a clue that teases the little grey cells as the words were found on a photograph album of evocative and rare images of Tenerife at the end of the 19th century.

Recently Cornwall based photographic historian and genealogist Steve Colwill and his partner Karen Willows acquired a treasure chest of a photograph album featuring 42 photographs of life in La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz in 1898. The images not only show islanders going about their daily business, they also capture the world of the rich and possibly famous visitors who were enjoying Tenerife’s friendly climate from the luxury of the recently built Gran Hotel Taoro above Puerto de la Cruz.

This is where the mystery comes in ““ who are the people in the photographs taken at the Hotel Taoro?

Steve and Karen contacted Tenerife Magazine to ask if we could help put names to the faces and places in the photographs. We in turn sought out expert assistance and contacted Tenerife’s answer to Robert Langdon ““ Kenneth Fisher (except Ken’s much more amusing), the former president of the English Library in Puerto de la Cruz.

Ken has already managed to throw some light on the photographs.

However, whilst he continues to follow up leads and extricate himself from the occasional blind alley, we’d like to ask Tenerife Magazine’s readers to assist by contributing any information at all which may help pull the pieces of this sepia tinted jigsaw together; whether it relates to the people or the locations in the photographs.

If you can’t help you might know someone who can. It might be someone who’s lived in the area for a long time or has Canario friends who have abuelos (grandparents) who may be able to help ““ or who might even enjoy seeing images of their island from the past.

Discovering who may have stayed at the Hotel Taoro around the time the photographs were taken is proving a tricky business. The whereabouts of the hotel’s register is also a mystery, having disappeared after the hotel closed in 1972. Any information or thoughts about where this historic document might be would also be very helpful.

Ox drawn cart - still a common sight at fiestas on Tenerife

Even if the locations and people in the images are a complete mystery to you, the photos offer a wonderful and fascinating glimpse into north Tenerife’s social history.

Anyone who recognises any of the people or places in the photographs or can provide any information at all which they think might be useful can leave a comment here, email us at editor@tenerifemagazine.com or contact Steve and Karen directly at lorgan@helagan.eclipse.co.uk

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My Tenerife, A Personal View From Gavin Lewis

I’ve just returned home from my 3rd successive visit to the island of Tenerife. My wife and I love the place and we keep coming back for more. Our first visit was in 2007, but we returned once again in 2010 for our Honeymoon and then for a 3rd time this February. If you believe everything you read in the travel press about Tenerife you may be forgiven for thinking we had both lost the plot. Tenerife is portrayed as a bit of a tourist trap, full of beer-swilling louts making the most of their all inclusive bar whilst turning an unhealthy shade of maroon. In some parts yes, this may well be true.

Masca

However, if you look beyond the outer edges of these tourist hotspots you’ll find an island of superlatives. There aren’t many places that let you go from sea level to the highest point in Spanish territory in just a few miles. There aren’t many places that allow you to enjoy year-round warm sunshine in one part of the island only to find snow, rain or gale-force winds a few miles up the road. Tenerife is blessed by a variety of climates thanks to its dramatic terrain. As the landscape changes from one of dry, scorched soil and cactus (and Euphorbia plants…) to lush green grasses and terraced plantations, the towns and villages also change. Head to Santiago del Teide, Vilaflor or Oratava a few miles inland and you’ll no doubt wonder if you are actually still on Tenerife. The armies of sunburned tourists are nowhere to be found; the architecture changes from high-rise apartments and hotels to a mix of styles reflecting the island’s long history and the people are busy living their lives, doing what they do.

Keep heading uphill and you’ll reach the pine forests. The searing heat of the south is replaced by clean, crisp, and cool air and the road is enveloped in lush, green pine trees and clouds.. Keep climbing a little further and the trees suddenly disappear to reveal a landscape that wouldn’t look out of place on Mars. The national park is a sight to behold, with unusual rock formations, craters and lava flows from ancient eruptions and it boasts a 12,198ft centrepiece, Mount Teide.

Tenerife

This is the Tenerife I keep coming back to.

Words and images by Gavin Lewis – Tenerife Magazine reader, blogger & amateur photographer from Wales.

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Councils should Ignore the Law & an Earth Bound Asteroid in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

El Hierro Eruption Update
The undersea eruption at El Hierro continues to bubble away with no-one really sure what is going to happen next ““ nature can be a bit like that. Some are excited by the idea that the eruption will result in the emergence of a new island or volcano whereas others claim this is unlikely to happen.

The main development during the week was the appearance of a huge turquoise stain on the sea caused by the earth discharging its volcanic substances. A five mile exclusion zone has been established around the area of the undersea eruption whilst scientists monitor the situation.

Residents of La Restinga on El Hierro haven’t been allowed to return to their homes yet but that’s supposed to be because of the overpowering smell of sulphur in the area which scientists say is too unpleasant to live with rather than toxic.

The situation has remained stable throughout the week, although seismic activity has continued, with low level tremors being registered mostly on El Hierro but also between Tenerife and Gran Canaria and at Buenavista del Norte on Tenerife.

The Canarian Government continues to reassure that the eruption poses no danger.

No Money For Cyclists
Plans to bring Vuelta a España, one of Europe’s major cycle races, to the Canary Islands and Tenerife in 2012 have been reported as hitting a dead end because the Canarian Government doesn’t have the budget to finance the Canary Islands” stage of the race. The Tenerife leg had been agreed and would have included a route that took cyclists up to Mount Teide, but it isn’t going to happen in 2012.
Plans haven’t been totally abandoned and it’s hoped that the Vuelta a España will come to these shores in 2013.

Amateur Astronomers Spot Asteroid Heading Towards Earth
A member of a team of amateur astronomers visiting the Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) in September identified an asteroid on a trajectory towards earth that was considered close enough to be categorised as posing an impact threat.

However, the asteroid, imaginatively named 2011 SF108, shouldn’t come closer than about 30 million kilometres from Earth, so not one to lose any sleep over.

Tenerife Mayor Suggests Councils Shouldn’t Stick to the Law
Love him or hate him, when the dependably controversial Mayor of La Orotava, Isaac Valencia, opens his mouth what comes out is never banal.

During a 45 minute speech last week, he aimed his shotgun mouth at a number of targets and confirmed what some of us suspected by apparently suggesting Tenerife’s councils shouldn’t stick to the law. He said to ignore the law would be brave. No Isaac, it would be a crime.
He bemoaned the loss of the past when running a council was much simpler because there weren’t as many rules or laws to have to abide by. Aaah, those halcyon days when there was nothing to prevent unlimited greed and corruption.

The mayor also levelled his verbal barrage at the south of Tenerife when he spoke of the barbarities that had been carried out in the name of tourism saying that much of the money that had been ploughed into developing tourism in the south had arrived in suitcases via the port of Los Cristianos. The southern councils were blasted for allowing many tourism projects to be carried out illegally in Arona and Adeje where he said that councils had handled a lot of money, yet didn’t charge for taxes or licences for a number of hotels.

Isaac Valencia also confirmed another suspicion about how up-to-date with the modern world some of Tenerife’s politicians are by proudly stating that he didn’t own a mobile phone or know how to use a computer.

Yup, this is Tenerife…where ignorance is a virtue.

Great stuff Isaac, keep it coming.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦Endesa.
We may joke about the frustrations that can occasionally be caused by Tenerife’s utility companies” quirky little ways but sometimes these go beyond a joke. Two residents of the El Rosario municipality have resorted to staging a hunger strike to force the local authorities and Endesa, the electricity company, into action after enduring five years without electricity.

The pair, who are camped in a tent outside of El Rosario’s town hall, have now gone five days without food to raise awareness of their cause after taking their complaints to the courts in Santa Cruz proved a fruitless exercise.

As is so often the case on Tenerife, there’s a bit of a right hand and a left hand situation with the local council saying that the couple will have electricity within 48 hours but Endesa stating they’ll only turn on the light when a judge orders them to do so.

Sadly on Tenerife there’s always someone else to blame. It is exactly this mentality that will always hold the island back.

El Hierro Image courtesy of the National Geographic Institute (IGN)

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The Corpus Christi Red Carpet on Tenerife

It’s June 1936. Francisco Franco is Governor General of the Canary Islands and is in La Orotava watching the Corpus Christi procession as it passes over the floral works of art.

Well known as a dissenter, Franco has been posted to the furthest and quietest outreach of Spanish governance to keep him out of harm’s way. If only they’d known then that most powerful of idioms – keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The authorities are expecting trouble, there have been whispers of an assassination attempt and the Guardia have a heavy presence, their cars parked beneath the magnolia frontage of Casas de Los Balcones. In the event, the procession passes quietly without incident.

Fast forward 75 years and on the 30th June 2011, the alfombristas of La Orotava will unveil the 106th carpet to be constructed in the Plaza Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square). During its existence this most fragrant of Canary Islands traditions has seen some important feet passing over its cobbled streets, not least those of the Corpus Christi procession to whom it owes its existence.

Rolling out the carpet
The feast of Corpus Christi had already been celebrated for over 300 years in Tenerife, predominantly in La Laguna where the day was marked by theatre, dancing and traditional games as well as pious acts, before the first petals were ever laid in La Orotava. The honour of being the first is attributed to Leonor de Castillo Monteverde who, in 1847, thought it would be a nice idea to decorate the road outside her home for the Corpus Christi procession to walk over. So successful was Leonor’s idea that the practice quickly spread to other parts of the island and her descendants still complete that section of road outside her home today.

In their 164 year history the La Orotava flower carpets have only twice been suspended, once in 1891 and again in 1897. Last year, despite the persistent rain that marred the whole proceedings, the people still turned out to make their flower carpets and to ensure that their 120 year unbroken record still stands.

The La Orotava Town Hall tapestry
Despite the popularity of decorating La Orotava’s streets for the procession, it was to be almost 70 years after Leonor’s radical gesture before the Plaza Ayuntamiento stained its face in the name of religious devotion.

The Corpus Christi procession began passing through the Town Hall plaza in 1913 but it wasn’t until 1919 when Felipe Machado and Benítez de Lugo took it upon themselves to carpet the square in flowers and vegetation that the tapestry tradition began. Before then, the only time the square had seen decoration was in 1905 when a floral carpet tribute had been laid to honour the Spanish Navy ensign.

On the 21st May 2011, work began on this year’s tapestry, the theme of which is the 26th World Youth Day which will once again bring the Pope to Spain. This year’s design will use 21 different colours to create 20 individual tapestries as a nod to the 20 years that this particular group of alfombristas have been the creators of the carpets and the latest generation of artists to continue the ethereal tradition that has characterised the town for so long.

The La Orotava Corpus Christi flower carpets take place on 30th June 2011.

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Easter Traditions

A Moveable Feast
I have made several attempts in the past to understand why the dates of Easter vary year on year, after all, surely the date of Christ’s death and his resurrection are known and can be commemorated annually? But no, apparently the crucifixion took place on 15 Nisan (Nisan being the first month of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year) which in turn depends on phases of the moon. And here is where the problem starts. Phases of the moon vary season to season and year to year, what’s more, they don’t always obligingly fall on a Sunday which is when the Christian church would like to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

After centuries of contention, which incidentally still continues (the latest meeting of the World Curches Council held in 1997 proposed yet more reforms which were never implemented), the way to calculate Easter is this: find the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring) which is usually the 21st or 22nd March, then look for the next full moon and Easter falls on the Sunday following that ““ simple.

Holy Week
In Spain, Holy Week which this year begins on April 17th, is the most important event in the religious calendar, even more so than Christmas. The week commemorates so many significant events in Christ’s life, from his arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In Tenerife, as all across Spain, Holy Week is a deeply sombre affair featuring masses, blessings and processions, the most important and reverent of which take place in the former capital of La Laguna. But you’ll find events taking place right across the island in Santa Cruz, Los Realejos, La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz, Garachico, Arona and Adeje.

Holy Friday (Good Friday) is the most solemn of the events as the Church mourns the death of Christ. In La Laguna there are two processions featuring hooded penitents who wear the traditional capirote, or hooded conical hats to hide their faces, and barefooted monks whose ankles and wrists are manacled. The first of the processions, the Magna, leaves the Church of the Concepción in La Laguna at 5pm while the haunting Silent Procession takes place by torchlight at 9pm with the centre of the city plunged into darkness as a sign of respect. In Adeje, one of the biggest Good Friday events on the island is staged with The Passion, a re-enactment of the crucifixion involving some 300 participants and thousands of onlookers.

Easter Eggs and Bunnies
With Easter perpetually tied to the advent of spring, the humble egg has long been a feature of celebrations. From the use of hard boiled eggs dipped in salt water in the Jewish Passover Seder to the pagan celebrations of fertility and reproduction, the egg is a powerful symbol of the arrival of spring and nature’s awakening from the slumbers of winter. The association of re-birth and the dawning of the light that stems from both the religious significance of the resurrection of Christ and the pagan celebrations of spring also brings the bunny rabbit into play, their prowess in the reproduction business being a well established fact.

The chocolate Easter egg made its first appearance in the early 19th century but without the know-how to separate cocoa butter from the cocoa bean, using moulds to create the egg shape was a lengthy and lumpy affair. It wasn’t until the Dutch invention of a press in 1878 that chocolate moulds first appeared. Naturally, the Cadbury Brothers were pioneers in the industry, their first chocolate Easter eggs being made from dark chocolate and filled with sugared almonds. When they began adding decoration in the form of chocolate piping and marzipan flowers, the fashion took off and by 1893 there were 19 different lines in the Cadbury’s Easter Eggs range. It wasn’t until the turn of the century in 1905 that milk chocolate was launched with the Cadbury’s MilkO Chocolate. Today, milk chocolate Easter Eggs dominate the market.

Incidentally, if all this talk of Cadbury’s Easter Eggs has whetted your appetite for your favourite egg, your best bet for hunting down a real chocolate Easter Egg on Tenerife is to head to one of the out of town large supermarket chains where you’ll find a small selection of familiar names.

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The Alternative Live Music Scene in Tenerife, FMAC 2011

Vegas lounge crooners, tribute acts and stars who made it big in the eighties are all very nice, but what is there for those of us staying in or visiting Tenerife who get a buzz from vibrantly fresh and original live music? Where do we go for our hit of sex & drugs & rock ‘n” roll…well the rock ‘n” roll part anyway?

The answer is that there are actually plenty of venues to see good, live original music that offer an alternative to the cabaret and tribute acts more commonly associated with the music scene on Tenerife. And the next couple of weeks sees the best of the Canary Islands” musical talent rock the reef, as well as most of the other islands, as part of fmac 11; The Canary Islands Festival of Alternative Music.

This year nearly forty bands are performing at the fmac festival. Most are Canarian based, but there’s also a good sprinkling of artists from mainland Spain, Europe and as far afield as Japan. On Tenerife a concentrated dose of the indie rock, pop, jazz, world music and funk that usually makes up the sounds heard at the fmac festival can be a welcome change to those of us fed on the musical diet of the Latino beats and traditional Canarian compositions most often heard outside of the main southern resorts. For everyone else the festival is a great opportunity to get to hear some thumping live local bands do their stuff as well as experiencing a different face of Tenerife’s night life that isn’t usually seen by most visitors.

Most of the concerts are free and there are seven venues just on Tenerife alone; Cafe Quilombo (La Orotava), Castillo San Felipe (Puerto de la Cruz), Bar del Sheriff (Puerto de la Cruz), Cafe 7 (La Laguna), Banda Aparte (Santa Cruz), ON Bar (La Orotava) and La Casa de la Cultura San Agustín (La Orotava).

The first guitar twangs rang out on 18th March, but fmac really only hits its stride in April and the next three weekends see nineteen different artists bring their own particular brand of alternative music to venues on Tenerife; the highlight of which is the free concert featuring three or four bands that signals the end of the festival. Usually this is held beside Casa Aduano (the customs house) in Puerto de la Cruz but this year it’s been inexplicably shifted. So if anyone wants to catch Lanzarote’s pop/rock group Oscartienelas, Tenerife rockers Marvel Hill, electronic punksters LolaLola and the ‘delightfully’ named Fuckin Four Factory from Gran Canaria, they’ll have to head uphill from the north coast to the plaza beside the Casa de la Cultura San Agustín in La Orotava on the night of Friday 15th April.

Historic surroundings and rocking good music in the same package and for free…surely an alternative aspect of Tenerife that is worth seeking out?

For a full list of venues, artists and dates (but curiously not times) check out the official fmac website here…

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Top Ten-erife Days Out

Tenerife may be one of the world’s most popular winter sun getaways, but when the novelty of lying half naked on the beach while the folks back home are shivering in their boots wears off, where can you go to see something more than sun, sand, sea and theme parks? Our advice is to sort yourself out some Tenerife car hire and check out these fabulous days out…

1. Teide National Park – if the only place you’ve seen Mount Teide is through the window of your aircraft as you arrive and depart the island, then you’re missing one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth.

2. Masca ““ whatever you’ve read in the brochures or heard from the tour reps, it still won’t prepare you for the wow factor you’ll experience as you enter this lost paradise nestling amongst colossal peaks on the edge of the world.

3. Garachico ““ the little town that fought its way out from under a volcanic eruption to provide amazing rock pools where you can swim with tropical fish, the prettiest plaza on Tenerife and more picturesque scenes than you can point a camera at.

4. La Orotava ““ stretch the thigh muscles on a stroll around Tenerife’s most aristocratic town to uncover stunning island architecture, beautiful parks and gardens and excellent souvenir shopping in the town that gives us streets paved with petals.

5. Candelaria ““ the spiritual heart of the Canary Islands, pilgrims travel on foot and on their knees to worship at the feet of the Black Madonna. Luckily, buses also run from all over the island to transport you to the bronze icons of a forgotten era.

6. Santa Cruz ““ When its streets aren’t filled with the semi-naked women, drag queens and Maquinería bands of Carnaval, they’re home to museums, art galleries, splendid architecture and pretty plazas spread around the island’s best shopping and bordering a busy cruise liner port.

7. Santiago del Teide – travel into the rural heartland for a Tenerife a million miles away from its popular travel brochure image. Riding stables, picnics under the eucalyptus trees, a beautifully restored country house and unspoilt beauty await.

8. La Laguna ““ pack an umbrella and goad the rain gods with a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tenerife’s former capital city. Beautifully restored mansions and monasteries span five centuries and they have one of the best farmer’s markets on the island.

9. Icod de los Vinos ““ with a pedestrianised street lined with pavement cafes and boutiques, a splendid church square and a butterfly farm, there’s more to Icod than just dragon trees, volcanic tubes and Jackass antics.

10. Vilaflor – climb up into the pine forest where thermal spas and fir trees create a landscape more akin to an alpine village than Spain’s highest, and try to resist the urge to yodel.

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Carnival Dates in Tenerife 2011

Carnival on Tenerife hit top gear at the weekend. Although the opening round of parties are over, some of the most popular carnival events are still to come.

There are loads of carnival events on Tenerife to look out for over the next few weeks. So anyone with a yen to slip into the fishnets and little black number (men only on this occasion), really vamp it up at an unforgettable open air party or even simply enjoy the spectacle of a colourful carnival parade should take a note of the dates in our Carnival Agenda.

Carnival on Tenerife, Güímar

Güímar has the best carnival poster on Tenerife this year and enough to warrant a visit the town of the mysterious pyramids for their celebrations.

Main Dates: 11th to 26th March. More Information Here

Carnival on Tenerife, La Laguna

Not a lot of tourists seek out this carnaval, or many fiestas in the former capital city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna even though they hold some of the biggest parties there.

Main Dates: Between 5th and 12th March. More Information Here

Carnival on Tenerife, La Orotava

With a theme of the music from the 70s and 80s La Orotava could be a hippy and new romantic haven during carnival.

Main Dates: From 5th to 12th March. More Information Here

Carnival on Tenerife, Los Cristianos

Despite the carnival poster howler, the circus themed Los Cristianos carnival should be a lot of fun.

Main Dates: 25th to 28th March. More Information Here

Carnival on Tenerife, Los Gigantes

One of the best carnivals in south Tenerife, Los Gigantes has a Latino theme this year.

Main Dates: 13th to 21st March. More Information Here

Carnival on Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz

Not quite as big as Santa Cruz, but carnival in El Puerto involves tens of thousands of people and rocking street parties.

Main Dates: Between 3rd and 12th March. More Information Here

Carnival in Santa Cruz

The biggest, brashest and most exuberant celebrations are held in Tenerife’s capital city, Santa Cruz.

Main Dates: Carnival really hits its stride in Santa Cruz between 2nd and 13th March. More Information Here

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