The ‘Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife’, (which is second only to the ‘Rio de Janeiro Carnival’ in Brazil) is held in February every year, and it attracts many thousands of people from all over the world. The Carnival, which is affectionately known as the ‘mixing of the masked upper class with the common people’, has been celebrated since the time of the earliest European settlement -and possibly even prior to that. The festival has two parts: the ‘Official Carnival’, and the ‘Carnival on the Street’. The festivities actually begin on the Friday prior to the main Carnival, with a grand opening parade, which reaches a crescendo during the evening, as thousands of people -the majority of whom are attired in outlandish fancy-dress costumes continue dancing the night away -well into the early hours of the morning.
The party continues-on -virtually non-stop for five days, until ‘Ash Wednesday’, when the people of Santa Cruz de Tenerife celebrate the “Entierro de la sardina” (burial of the sardine) -an event which officially signifies the end of the carnival. However, the following weekend (which is known as the ‘Weekend of the piñata’) the party is duly revived -and the mass of festivities simply begin all-over again. Since 1962, a poster for each year of the Carnival has been created, and in 1980, it was declared a ‘Tourist Festival of International Interest’ by the Secretary of State for Tourism, whose ultimate aim is for the Santa Cruz Carnival to be recognised as a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’.
In 1987 the carnival was attended by a quarter of a million people, and was subsequently registered in the Guinness Book of Records as ‘The largest gathering of people in an outdoor plaza ever to attend a concert’. It was also the first year that the Carnival was given a theme -and this years’ theme was ‘Rome’. The following year the theme was entitled ‘Wild World’ and amongst its many features was a large statue of King Kong! ‘Millennial Egypt’ was the theme for 1989, which included Egyptian-styled palace gates and models of sphinxes, and in 1990 the theme was entitled ‘Story World’, mixing ‘Happy’ with ‘Dark’, including a tree whose branches were shaped like hands, as a tribute to the film ‘Poltergeist’. the themes for the last ’25 years’ have been as follows:
1991 ‘Space’, 1992 ‘Cinema’, 1993′ Circus’, 1994, ‘Atlantida’, and in 1995 ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ theme included scenes from the Arabian story ‘Aladdin’. The highlight of the carnival in 1996, which was themed ‘Mexico’, was a grand stage performance by Enrique Iglesias. 1997 was entitled ‘Pehistory’, 1998 ‘The Middle Ages’ -and in 1999 the theme of ‘Comic World’ included statues and busts of legendary superheroes such as ‘Lara Croft’ and ‘Captain America’. Moving into the new Millennium ‘Pirates’ was the theme for 2000, followed by ‘Space Odyssey’ in 2001 and ‘The Roaring 20’s’ in 2002, which encompassed iconic landmarks from around the world, including the ‘Statue of Liberty’, the ‘Golden-Gate Bridge’ and the ‘Eiffel Tower’.
2003 was dedicated to ‘The Far East (China)’, 2004, to ‘Celia Cruz’ (A Cuban-American Singer) -and 2005 to ‘Hollywood Musicals’. The 2006 carnival was entitled ‘Tribes’, 2007 ‘Fashion’, and 2008 ‘Magic’, which incorporated motifs from ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Lord of The Rings’. 2009 was entitled ‘Horror Films’, the satanic hymn ‘Ave Satani’, from the movie ‘The Omen’, being played several times at the introduction to the Gala -and 2010 was aptly entitled ‘Tenerife, Carnival History’. The theme for 2011 was ‘Enrique Gonzalez’ (‘father of street musicians’ and founder of several acts of the carnival), followed the year after by ‘Flower Power’ in 2012, which was primarily based on hippies, and featured themes such as ‘The Vietnam War’ and ”The Man on the Moon’, and included tribute bands to the ‘Beatles’ and the ‘Rolling Stones’.
In 2013 the theme shifted to India, with ‘Bollywood’, after being chosen by internet voting, and the carnival boasted having the largest LED screen in the whole of Europe. In 2014, the theme was entitled ‘The Cartoons’, and included such lovable cartoon characters as ‘Sylvester’, ‘Tweety-Pie’ and ‘Scooby-Doo’, along with iconic children’s films, including ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’, and last year, in 2015 the theme was ‘The Future’, and included dancers, robots, stilt-walkers-and galactic beings from another planet. This years carnival is entitled ‘The Roaring 80’s’, which was decided by a public vote, after narrowly outstripping ‘The Caribbean’ theme, and on Saturday night (13th February) the ‘Grande Finale’ will take place on the streets of Santa Cruz -I cannot wait!