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Tag Archive | "parades"

Sunshine and Crowds at the 2012 Santa Cruz Carnival Closing Parade


The Tenerife weather Gods smiled upon Santa Cruz Carnaval 2012 once again as the Tuesday Coso parade marked the beginning of the end of carnival. Blue skies and warm sun helped to take the edge of the cool breeze for the 150,000 or so people who lined the Avenida Marítima in Tenerife’s capital yesterday to witness the closing parade.

Having found our way to the Opening Parade on Friday night barred by the closure of Las Ramblas, we were taking no chances yesterday as we headed into Santa Cruz for the Coso Apoteosis. Parking the car at the bus station just after 3pm, we set off walking amongst the Smurfs, sexy policewomen, gangsters, princesses and assorted creatures of the night who were braving sunlight and a nippy breeze to get to food stalls and the fairground before the parade began.

Jacket potato, churros and hot dog stalls were doing a brisk business and getting our nostrils twitching as we made our way along the Avenida following the file of 8000 chairs placed ring-side for the thousands of visiting tourists arriving in the city by the coach load. With just under an hour until the start of the parade, many of the chairs along the Auditorium end of the Avenida Marítima were still vacant but the further we walked towards Plaza España, the fewer empty seats there were.

By 3.30pm the city was buzzing with crowds. The restaurants and bars lining Avenida de Anaga and Avenida Francisco la Roche were teeming with diners, plates of calamari, tapas, paella and fresh bocadillos doing nothing to temper the rising hunger caused by being in a city that smelled like one, vast kitchen in the throes of preparing a banquet. Progress along the pavement was a slow and stilted affair with the way being barred by groups of chatting friends, little dogs on leads, Christopher Columbus and a posse of baby carriages.

With time slipping away and crowds growing thicker by the second we finally found a standing place in front of some very whiffy bins where we could get an unbroken view of the action and waited for the parade to begin. Almost on the stroke of 4pm the first float set off to the applause and seat dancing of the audience around us and the usual arrival of late comers elbowing their way in front of us until I found myself almost pinned to the smelly bin and straining to see the action. Such is carnival.

Floats, Murgas, dancing troupes and costumed characters passed by, their faces and legs betraying the fatigue they were feeling after the biggest street party of carnival the night before, but still their smiles were never far from the surface when the camera pointed their way. Carmen González wore her costume ‘Imperio’ with all the grace and style of, well a Carnaval Queen as she passed by quite early on in the proceedings to the tumultuous applause of onlookers.

At 8pm when the last of the parade stragglers had made their way past the crowds, the Santa Cruz sky exploded into a spectacular fireworks display and the city was able to get on with the serious business of clearing away chairs for the nightly street parties to begin.

The city of Santa Cruz has a very different feel to it on Carnival Tuesdays. Streets which normally throng with city dwellers, office workers and those on port business with intermittent scatterings of cruise passengers and day trippers, are transformed into Tenerife’s largest tourist destination for the day. The seats which line the parade route are welcomed by visitors for whom the more than three hours of passing parade would otherwise constitute an endurance trail but there’s no doubt they also remove some of the spontaneity and joie de vivre of the Opening Parade. Add to that the fatigue of those involved in the parade following the excesses of the night before and it’s a quieter affair altogether.

But for all of that, the Coso Apoteosis (closing parade) of Santa Cruz carnival is a great day out for anyone visiting Tenerife during carnival. It’s a spectacular, three hour plus show for the price of a €2.50 front row seat and it does give just a little taste of the colour and glamour of a Tenerife carnival.

The party in Santa Cruz will continue with the Burial of the Sardine and nightly street parties until Sunday 26th February before the costume drama is finally packed away for another year.

Posted in Featured, Fiestas & Festivals, NewsletterComments (0)

Carnaval Costumes on Tenerife


What is it about the British psyche that makes us so reluctant to do anything that could be construed as making us look or sound silly? From using the right accent when speaking another language to donning a fancy dress costume, we don’t easily slip into alter egos, unlike many of our European cousins who smooth talk their way effortlessly through foreign accents and don a wig and high heels at the slightest hint of an excuse.

Well carnival is coming and if ever there was a good time to break the mould ““ this is it. So if you haven’t done any serious role playing since you tottered around the bedroom in your mum’s high heels at the age of four, it’s time to rediscover the inner you.

The Sublime
Using the word costume to describe the incredible creations in which contestants in the Carnaval Queen competition strive to move around the stage, is pure poetic licence. The only part of the outfit that actually comes into contact with the wearer is the skimpiest of bikinis and headgear so heavy that if the girls ever let their heads go down they’d be looking at the floor for the rest of the night.

The costumes themselves are reputed to weigh somewhere in the region of 200 kilos and are mounted on wheels to enable the wearer to move. Stretching muscles the size of knots in string, the poor girls are okay once they’re on the move but any hesitation and they have to be ignominiously jump started by the stage roadies.

The Ridiculous
Elusive to all but the most avid of carnival fans and competent Spanish speakers, are the magnificently costumed Murgas whose competitions herald the start of Carnaval for weeks in advance.

Heavily dependant on foam coupled with intensely bright primary colours, an excessive use of glitter and face painting that makes David Bowie’s Ziggy look like it could have been done at a kiddie’s fair, the Murgas are a cross between clowns and Leprechauns on drugs and are my favourite Carnaval costumes.

The Show-offs
Hoping for temperate nights and sunny days for Opening and Closing Parades respectively, are the troupes of scantily clad dancers who twirl, side step and skip their way through the streets.
Usually sporting variations on whatever Carnaval theme has been chosen that year, spectators are treated to a frenzy of feathers, jewels, glitter, tap shoes and exposed flesh.

The Professional
Leaving the formal events and heading into the murky waters of the very soul of Carnaval, long after the last parade float has rattled by, the street parties begin and this is when the real ingenuity and imagination of Carnaval costumes comes to the fore.

Mercifully, the furry animal all-in-one costumes that dogged (lit) Carnaval nights for years are now losing popularity and invention has returned. One of the great joys of attending the street parties is to see what rich veins of imagination and professionalism appear in both contemporary and classic outfits.

The Amateur
They may not be as professional looking as the shop bought version, but rising to the challenge of a home made costume is part of the fun. The gender bender option is always an easy one to go for but it’s worth making the effort to do it properly.

You won’t find many men with a couple of balloons stuffed down their girlfriend’s dress, a lopsided wig and smeared lipstick. What you’re much more likely to see are men who look far better than their wives and girlfriends do on a Saturday night with just that touch of OTT make-up and a Dick Emery wobble in the walk to remind you it’s just Carnaval.

In my experience it’s best to begin with one item of clothing or one accessory which may spark an idea, and to work from there. In past years an old mosquito net and a kilt have been catalysts for some rather fetching numbers.

The Tourist
If you really can’t bring yourself to throw off the mantle of conservatism and plunge headlong into full fancy dress, at the very least pick up a glittery hat or a pair of false breasts at one of the kiosks and spark the inner child in you.
Now all you need are the words to the song so you can belt it out:
Fiesta! Fiesta! Nah na na na na, nah na na na na!
Now, how difficult can that be?

Photo of Carnaval Queen and Murgas courtesy of www.carnavaltenerife.es

Posted in Fiestas & Festivals, Newsletter, Top StoryComments (3)



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