May 22, 2009 Leave a comment
Surprisingly, Tenerife hosts a world class Carnaval that it is second in size only to Brazil, which is considered to be the greatest in the World.
The origins go back hundreds of years, the word Carnaval is taken from the Latin words “carne va,” which translated means “meat goes.” Well that is related to Lent; before the fasting began Canarian families would have a big feast to finish up the meat. Family, friends and neighbours would be invited round to celebrate and it became an annual event with people spilling out into the streets.
Initially it was a working class thing with the upper classes not wishing to lower themselves but over time things changed. Not wishing to be left out some of the younger elite began joining in but they disguised themselves by wearing costumes and wearing masks. Over the years these humble traditions developed into what they are today, an excuse for a party and great rivalry.
Carnaval, although a very sociable affair, became somewhat competitive with various groups forming to increase their entertainment profile. These groups took on names such as the Mascarillas, who were accompanied by street bands, known as Murgas, dance groups known as Comparsas and Rondallas who were the singers.
Tenerife Carnaval soon became a cult thing with different clubs forming to compete against each other. The preparations for next year’s Carnaval commence as soon as this year’s Carnaval is over, fund raising, costume making, singing, dancing and choreography are carefully planned and practised. Such is the enthusiasm that people of all generations become involved.
Sponsorship by local firms for publicity is now very common and that has probably helped develop the Tenerife Carnaval into being what it now is. Most of the costumes are painstakingly prepared, mostly at home, with many parents making great sacrifices so that their children can participate.
Tenerife is lucky to have a great climate and as a result it has become fashionable for Carnaval girls to wear less clothes but with the best possible taste, of course. There is definitely no nudity but sometimes not much is left to the imagination. The stunning costumes and head dresses are however a great distraction as the girls gyrate through the streets.
There are many competitions for all the creations not the least important of which is the Carnaval Queen which happens on opening night. There is of course fierce competition for this coveted role.
So, what’s the Tenerife Carnaval like? You will see long colourful parades, hear loud music and see lots of dancing around in the main areas. Carnaval takes place all over Tenerife at different times and the larger venues also have fairs, amusements, live shows and fireworks displays, all of which adds to the atmosphere and razzamatazz. Another thing, it usually goes on for a week so you need a lot of stamina even of you are only a spectator. A large range of food and alcoholic drinks are available from kiosks, stalls and bars of course.
People dress up to visit the spectacle, many young men will dress up as women and the Carnaval goes on until the last people leave which is often dawn.
The Tenerife Carnaval is a legendary event not to be missed. Large numbers of Tenerife tourists visit the Island especially to enjoy the Carnaval.
See a video of Tenerife Carnaval 2009