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Friday, February 20, 2009

Los Cristianos Carnival: moveable feast or moving target?

Oh, I did so want to come up with a "magic formula" for calculating the dates of carnaval in Los Cristianos - after all the occasional tourist might drop into the area (~ 3 million a year) and one or two might actually enjoy going to see its annual carnaval.

More would, I'm sure, but for that to happen, a bit of advance notice would be handy, you know, because people need to give employers notice to book time off from their jobs, therefore they need to book their flights, hotels or holidays, months in advance ...

And failing some advance publicity (and we don't mean just posters inside the town, "preaching to the choir"), maybe stick to a regular schedule?

Nah, frustratingly, Arona has never heard of these alien concepts.

After translating the program for a reader the other day, I thought I'd go through the archives to see if a pattern would emerge that would allow us to say "take the date of XYZ and add XX days ..." to arrive at a method for people to predict when these fiestas would take place each year. I thought it did, but it doesn't work.

Taking the dates of Shrove Tuesday (the most reliable and verifiable point in the Carnaval calendar) and the dates of the main parade of Los Cristianos carnaval (which is the event that is probably of most interest to spectators) over the last few years - those few I could find online - plus the date listed in this year's program, I plotted how many days there were between the two dates.

Usually, the Los Cristianos carnaval main parade happens 12 days after Shrove Tuesday, i.e. the second Sunday after "Pancake Day" for those who've forgotten what Shrove is about elsewhere.

And then they go and muck things up, because this year it's all happening a week later, with the main parade 19 days after Shrove Tuesday instead.

The good news is that the basic format for the core 5 days of the Los Cristianos carnaval did not seem to vary in all of those years, being:
  • Thursday. Gala election of the Junior Carnaval Queen.
  • Friday. Carnival Ball for the Senior Citizens and Grand Gala election of the Carnaval Queen.
  • Saturday. Carnaval Ball.
  • Sunday 5 p.m. ish. Gran Coso Apoteósico del Carnaval (The Main Parade)
  • Monday. Burial of the Sardine, followed by the Widow's Ball.
And our recollection is that this has been the case for many more years too.

Some of the events leading up to it; the presentation of the candidates, opening parades, etc., which this year are happening on the weekend before the core events of carnaval, have previously been held mid-week. It's that difference, clearly, that is pushing it all onward 7 days. The trouble is that one cannot predict whether future years will be organized in the way it's being done this year, whether they will revert to the old way, or something else.

Planning ahead: Certainly, Los Cristianos carnaval main parade should not happen earlier than the 12 days after Shrove Tuesday, because their carnaval cannot start until Santa Cruz finishes and releases the fairground rides.

If you plan to be there for that date and book for a fortnight, you'd still be around if it is all moved onwards a week. Watch our news or check with Arona town hall nearer to the date each year to be absolutely sure, but know that this will almost always be too late to plan, unless you take a chance on last minute availability.

Better yet, write to Arona town hall (in English) and suggest that they "get with the program" so that you, as a visitor (after all, you are supposed to be important to them) can get information in time, or count on a regular enough schedule to be able to plan and book your holidays in advance to enjoy their carnaval.

No, seriously, we don't need to rant and whine at them (though it's tempting), but the more people who point out the defficiencies, the sooner the penny will drop that a bit of simple information can positively impact falling tourist numers.

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