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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dates of Tenerife Carnaval 2009

Carnival 2009 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

After some pretty heavy rain, the wind dropped, the sun came out, the weather alert ended and, as was hoped, thankfully, the unusually strong winter storms this weekend mostly stayed north and passed Tenerife without incident. Meanwhile, this weekend, on Sunday, February 17th, both carnival parades on the south of the island, in Los Cristianos and Los Gigantes, were able to go ahead as planned, with plenty of blue sky and bare flesh in evidence, but for Santa Cruz it's all over until next year:

Dates of Tenerife Carnaval 2009

  • Santa Cruz main parade on Shrove Tuesday, February 24th, 2009.
  • The Burial of the Sardine on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
  • The final weekend, therefore falling on February 28th, 2009, when Santa Cruz Carnaval ends, Puerto de la Cruz holds their main, closing parade and when the whole thing moves south.

(Always providing that the authorities don't alter the dates or that the weather doesn't, but we can't be held responsible for these outside issues.)

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Santa Cruz Carnival Grand Bang Fest



From yesterday's Carnaval de Día (Daytime Carnaval) initiative for the final weekend of carnaval in Santa Cruz that definitely started with a bang. Firstly with what they're calling a gran batucada. If you've ever given a toddler a toy drum you'll know exactly what this means, incessant drumming, only this time produced by whole groups of adults, rhythmically. It's make as much noise as possible time.

But, as if that wasn't enough for you, this is followed by the incredibly noisy - imagine how it must have sounded was live - fireworks-by-day spectacle coming from the Plaza de España, provided by Los Realejos' firm Hermanos Toste.

These noise fireworks are famous in Valencia and the custom there was unlike any other, where they're called a mascletà or mascletada (bang fest). Michael Palin, in his Hemingway Adventure (video), calls them "a celebration of noise", a competition to make "a bigger, more beautiful din" and "the world eardrum splitting finals."

Given all the fuss made about carnaval's noise in recent years in Santa Cruz it is the absolute height of irony (maybe sarcasm) to introduce this 120dB+ spectacle. In Tenerife, they are calling this firework finger gesture a "gran traca."

Don't you just love the typical, total anarchy of it?

Whoever planned this day's events and the order of service should be wholly congratulated. I think they may be guilty of a wee bit of deliberate manipulation, but they clearly knew exactly what emotion they wanted to provoke in the crowd, as it builds from the drumming, into the firework frenzy ... And bang Billos Caracas Boys launch into the classic, "Santa Cruz en Carnaval". That song (which is also used as the backing for this video that tells of Santa Cruz Carnaval's history), has become a genuine carnaval hymn because Billos Caracas Boys had appeared with the late Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa, now Immortal Goddess, at Santa Cruz Carnaval's Greatest Ever Moment in History: the Guinness World Record for the largest attendance at a dance; 250,000 people in 1987.

That sure is a LOT of Santa Cruz Carnaval loving emotion!

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Los Cristianos Carnival 2008

Carnival in Arona

Carnival isn't finished yet, it just disperses around the island to other towns and, especially to the south, where Arona (Playa de Las Américas - Los Cristianos) holds the next biggest Carnaval del Sur or Carnaval de Los Cristianos 2008, which started on Sunday night (Feb 10th) with the presentation of the candidates for their Carnaval Queen, at the Cultural Center. It runs through to February 18th and the main events are as follows:

Cabalgata Anunciadora (Opening Parade)
Wednesday, February 13th at 17:30
Playa de Las Américas - Los Cristianos

Gala de elección de la Reina Infantil del Carnaval (Election of Junior Queen)
Thursday, February 14th at 20:30
Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure) - Los Cristianos

Baile de Carnaval de la 3º edad (Old Folks Carnaval Ball)
Friday, February 15th at 20:30
Centro Cultural (Cultural Center) - Los Cristianos

Gran Gala de elección de la Reina del Carnaval de arona 2008 (Gala Election of Carnaval Queen)
Friday, February 15th at 21:00
Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure) - Los Cristianos

Baile de Carnaval (Carnaval Ball)
Friday, February 15th at 23:00
Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure) - Los Cristianos
With the salsa orchestra, "Sensación Gomera".

Baile de Carnaval (Carnaval Ball)
Saturday, February 16th at 23:00
Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure) - Los Cristianos
With the salsa orchestras, "Fortaleza and Sensación Gomera".

Coso Apoteósico del Carnaval de Arona 2008 (Main Parade)
Sunday, February 17th at 17:00
Through the streets of Los Cristianos
At the end of the parade, Baile de Carnaval (Carnaval Ball) - With the salsa orchestras: "Wamampy" and "Sensación Gomera" in the Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure).

Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine)
Monday, February 18th at 20:00
From the Cultural Center to Los Cristianos beach

Baile de Viudas del Carnaval (Widow's Ball)
Monday, February 18th at 23:00
Recinto Ferial (Fairs Enclosure) - Los Cristianos
With the salsa orchestra, "Wamampy".

In addition there's the fun fair, fireworks, stalls and lots of yummy street food.

Elsewhere, there's even more carnaval action for all the family with ...

Los Gigantes Carnival 2008 reputedly runs from 14th - 18th February.

Buenavista de Norte won't have a kids carnaval parade like it did last year, but Saturday, February 16th, is the famous Entierro de la Sardina Buenavista.

Carnaval Crawl: There are also carnival events still to come in Candelaria, Güimar, Tacoronte, Guía de Isora, La Guancha and San Miguel de Abona.

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Puerto de la Cruz Carnaval Parade 2008


Carnival Parade in Puerto de la Cruz

Sod's Law always brings some rain or bad weather, at least once while carnival is on in the Canary Islands and this year has been no exception, which explains why the sky is washed out and the colours hazy in these photos. All of the parades and concerts planned in Santa Cruz yesterday, got postponed because of the rains (well, actually a multiple-choice, smorgasbord of strange weather phenomena), with hot calima coming in from the east and cold air from the west, so it was no wonder it collided in the middle and created a huge storm. And boy, that was some storm we had in the early hours of Saturday too.

La Palma even got snow!

Here at "Secret Tenerife Towers," we were woken at 5.30 a.m. when lightening struck an electrical pylon, not 25 meters from the house with a noise like a huge explosion. So, after 9 hours without power; cold, damp, no hot food, no coffee, we decided to go out and catch the bus to Puerto de la Cruz to warm up and see the carnival procession. Like everything here, the Gran Coso Apoteosis del Puerto de la Cruz was listed as starting at 4 pm, but the reality was that it started at 5 pm at the "wrong" end of town for those of us who needed to dash back to the bus station to catch our last bus home at 6 pm. This reduced the couple of hours we thought we had to a mere 5 minutes, but here's what we saw.

Carnaval goers wouldn't go hungry with stalls selling food in the Plaza de Charco

No costume, no problem! You'd have be as mad as a hatter to pay the "last minute" prices tho!
















All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday: Burial of the Sardine

Parade of 'widows' in Santa Cruz. Photo WebTenerife

Anything you heard about Carnival in Tenerife, so far, that you thought was maybe surreal, a bit OTT, downright rude, utterly crazy ... will be rendered tame today, Ash Wednesday. Lent ("Christian Ramadan") begins and, there's a "funeral" taking place, the Entierro de la Sardina to lament the death of the fiestas. The significance of the sardine - so I'm told - is that it represents the return from the anarchy and craziness of carnival, back to the everyday order and, presumably, everyday food, like sardines.

Then again, it might be all to do with a side of pork and some smelly fish in Madrid, as Linda Wainright discovered in response to her question about the event's origins: Why would a bunch of perfectly straight, often macho, guys dress up in fishnets, high heels and widow’s weeds, and parade themselves through town, bewailing (and take the “wailing” part of that literally!) the “death” of a giant, papier mache fish?

Whatever the reasons, apart from the final weekend to come, referred to as the piñata, carnival is beginning to end, officially, in Santa Cruz for another year.

Even the fish is tarted up with make up and red lips!
Although the event is called a burial (entierro means putting in the earth, literally), it would be more properly called a cremation, but that seems like an unnecessary and pedantic distinction, given the circumstances. After the funeral procession (and mucho alcohol has been consumed), the effigy of the unfortunate fish is symbolically burned.

One year, also symbolically, somewhat Guy Fawkes stylee, an effigy of the lawyer who represented the Neighbours' Association in their complaint about the noise of Carnaval was also cremated. OK, so maybe 155 dB - louder than a jet engine roaring 100 feet from your ears - was a bit much for midnight, but their protests fell - pretty literally, I suppose - on deaf ears. Nobody was going to be allowed to do away with more than 200 years of the "institution" of carnaval in the streets of Tenerife's capital.

A couple of 'widows' at Santa Cruz'
Burial of the Sardine in 2007
.
Photo: kasia kazmierska
Still, the best description of this whole surreal and blasphemous closing parade is Julie Burchill's article, Carnaval Queen, in the Guardian. She asks, "Can we imagine a family night out solely about witnessing displays of blasphemy and hardcore porn?" The sardine's "widows" are mostly blokes in drag, dressed as tarts (they're going on the game now their "husband" is dead and they have no other means of support) wailing inconsolably at their loss. Others dress as popes, priests, pregnant nuns, "... many of them carrying huge dildos with which they blessed the crowd", says Burchill.

She continues: "On the night the sardine is laid to rest, you realise how irretrievably the Catholic church's backing of Fascism during the second world war has damaged its reputation in its heartland. I knew that the Catholic countries of southern Europe now boast the lowest birth-rates in the world, but I never realised how complete their contempt for their religion is until I saw the burial."

La Laguna Ahora published an article which explained that during the "Fiestas de Invierno" (Winter Festival) - the name that carnival had to go under during Franco's dictatorship - they used to have to mess with the calendar to make sure that the sardine's funeral - which, of course, was "prohibited" anyway - didn't coincide with Ash Wednesday. Once liberties were regained, the event was restored with enthusiasm.

The official site lists the event as running from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., starting from the Plaza de la Paz and ending in the Plaza de Europa. As with everything else, there will be fireworks to finish, just before the all-night revelries start.

More images of the Entierro de la Sardina at Carnaval 2007

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Carnaval Tuesday Main Parade



The program for Tenerife Carnaval, says the parade kicks off from around 4 p.m. this afternoon in the Avenidas de Anaga y Marítima (map) along the sea front in Santa Cruz, culminating in a huge fireworks display (around 9 - 9.30 p.m.) This video shows a montage of photos from the main Coso or carnaval parade in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 2007, which last year drew a crowd of 110,000. Today is a holiday in the city of Santa Cruz, but as people come from all around the island (and world), numbers in the evening will swell.

So while Pancake Day may be at risk of dying out in the UK, I don't see evidence of carnival losing its popularity, especially attendance at the main parade on Shrove Tuesday

As is traditional, the parade will be headed by the Afilarmónica Ni Fú-Ni Fá, followed by 26 floats - which will include all 17 of the candidates for carnival queen, not just the queen and her attendants - plus all the various dancing and singing troupes; comparsas, murgas, rondallas, etc.

There are also the familiar characters at carnaval such as; Charlie Chaplin, Fidel Castro, Kermit and Miss Piggy and even a touch of Elton John and Queen Marie-Antoinette - not to mention the hundreds that defy identification! These figures have become such local "institutions" (Santiago Díaz has been Harpo Marx since 1969, Francisco Arvelo became Michael Jackson in 1992), that there was an outpouring of public concern when Tenerife's Fidel Castro (real name, Antonio Meseguer) was stabbed during the 2006 Carnival. Fortunately, he recovered from his injuries. The perp, however, Juan Francisco P.S. was condemned to 14 years in prison for attempted murder.

Later on the 150 kilos or so of explosives, around 500 fireworks, will be provided by Los Realejos firm, Hermanos Toste and, of course, there's the funfair, the various bands for dancing in the streets until the next morning ...

For those not familiar with the whole carnival culture, although this parade is the carnival's finale (because today is Shrove Tuesday and therefore carnival "ends", because tomorrow is lent), there is the "funeral" (The Burial of the Sardine) tomorrow, Ash Wednesday and, even then the party continues in Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz through to the weekend, later moving on to other towns on the island.

It's a chilly 54 °F / 12 °C in the north of Tenerife this morning, with some ominous scattered clouds. There nearly always are for carnival, but it'll warm up and there are no serious weather systems about, as far as I know.

Getting there and back: the bus company, TITSA, have, as always, put on extra buses. For visitors coming from the south of the island, the bus number 111 from Las Americas to Santa Cruz is the most useful as the extra ones will run through the night and become virtually carnival coaches and an extension of the party.

The Coso Apoteosis del Carnaval parade is being televised live by TVCanaria from 4 .p.m. this afternoon. It can also be seen on the Spanish mainland (from 5 p.m. there).

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Carnaval Monday: Los Indianos



It's the turn of Santa Cruz de La Palma, the capital of our neighbouring island, to provide the curious custom of the day in the province. The video above is a promotional video for the Los Indianos fiesta that happens in that city every year on Carnaval Monday. Even if you don't understand, there's some lovely footage of the beautiful town - before it becomes besieged by thousands of battlers with baby powder.

The fiesta of Los Indianos, in which everyone (about 50,000 people last year) dresses in white - men preferably in the guayaberas (a.k.a. Beach wedding shirts) traditionally associated with Cuba and, also often carrying their luggage - better yet if it is typical of the period; leather suitcases and trunks, maybe filled with Monopoly money, started off to poke fun at the emigrants returning from Cuba, who, having "made their fortune" arrived back in La Palma ostentatiously showing off their wealth and finery. At the start of the 20th Century, around 7 ships a month left La Palma for La Habana (Havana).

These fiestas, to the rhythm of Son Cubano, also enact a talcum powder battle in the city's streets. First mentioned in writing in 1867, by José Viera y Clavijo as "los polvos" (the powders), though the tradition itself is older than that. The talcum powder - about 5,000 kilograms of the stuff was given out by the town hall this year - harks back to an age old custom of throwing eggs (the white and yolk having been previously removed) refilled with talc (or flour) and confetti at the masked carnival goers from the windows and balconies. Just don't ask me why this age-old custom exists.

Officially, these fiestas started at about noon and the parade carries on throughout the evening and on well into the night. The talcum powder stays around for weeks, apparently!

More photos: Indianos Santa Cruz La Palma 2007 .

If you think throats will be rather dry in all that talcum powder, don't worry, there'll probably be the odd mojito - traditional Cuban cocktail made from rum, citrus and mint - to refresh the revellers. The word mojito is derived from the diminutive of the word mojo, which is a Canarian word for the sauce that originated in the Canary Islands. The word and the sauce were introduced into Cuba and the Caribbean, due to heavy Canarian emigration. The recipe below is for the authentic mojito much favored by Ernest Hemmingway (and rediscovered by Michael Palin in his Hemmingway Adventure), direct from the coctail's birthplace, the La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.

Cuban Mojito recipe

The original authentic recipe from Havana Cuba

1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda

All events are liable to change beyond our control.

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