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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Final balance of Santa Cruz Carnival 2019

Fireworks at the end of Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

As fireworks said goodbye to the The Deep Sea carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife almost a week ago, it's time to look back at the events. Councillor for Fiestas, Gladis de León, said Monday that "Today, everyone says that Santa Cruz has the best carnival in the world". Having been at many of the main events myself, I absolutely don't disagree.

Whilst Rio may be bigger and Venice may have the edge on a certain type of glamour, you just can't beat Santa Cruz Carnival on it's accessibility; the opportunity to become part of carnival rather than just an onlooker; the atmosphere and friendliness.

Mayor, José Manuel Bermúdez isn't hiding his satisfaction with the Carnival either. In an interview, he says, "The night of Piñata Saturday showed that the [carnival in the] streets is our forte, that we are an unique Carnival, a Carnival of international proportions with something that nobody can ever copy: 400,000 people enjoying [themselves] on the street. That can not be copied, it has to be lived and it is a feeling of the people. Our people and their way of living the Carnival is what makes it great, different, safe and special."

We're still nodding our heads. My husband, who was a carnival virgin until this year, has said how he was impressed by Santa Cruz de Tenerife that, from the moment we arrived, felt like a city letting it's hair down and enjoying itself and not a festival that had merely been organised for the purposes of making money and ripping people off.

The distinction, of course, is that any festival in Britain will be organised by private companies, purely for profit and Santa Cruz Carnival is organised with the city council. They may well be, justly, keen to draw money into the city (this year's festivities generated revenue of 35 million euros for the city), but first and foremost it remains the local party for the people of the city. And as much as we'd like you to come an enjoy it too, we'd hate to see that ruined by too much tourism. The other distinction in Santa Cruz is the safety.

  • More than a million people attended the events of carnival, from the start of the contests to the Piñata Sunday
  • The absence of incidents of relevance during the development of Carnival on the street
  • Tista transported 706,000 passengers during the party and the tram to 258,000
  • In spite of the increase of public affluence with respect to previous editions, less solid waste was generated
  • Hotel occupancy in the city reached 100% during the two Saturdays of the party
  • The Carnival recorded up to 18 million interactions through official profiles on social networks

The Carnival of 2019 will go down in history as the most participatory to date, which together with the absence of relevant incidents from the point of view of security, shows this is a party as multitudinous as it is fun and friendly. The Juan Luis Guerra concert, organized together with Cadena Ser and which put the finishing touch to Piñata Saturday, broke attendance records, with an estimated influx of 400,000 people to the city that day.

The increase in traffic on the Carnival Facebook page stands out, as more than thirteen million people have seen some of their publications during the last two months; Nearly nine thousand new fans have registered and the videos have been played 1,513,154 times.

Traditional media

Some 10.3 million viewers watched the Gala for the Election of the Carnival Queen, broadcast live by Televisión Canaria and Televisión Española at some point.

Televisión Española also broadcast the Rhythm and Harmony contest, which was seen at some point by 2.9 million people, and recorded an average of 436,000 viewers.

The Main Parade was also broadcast by Televisión Canaria, which also made a special program on the occasion of the Daytime Carnival.

Hotels at full occupancy

The hotel occupancy data from Ashotel Tenerife reveal a 100 percent occupancy on Piñata Saturday and close to full during the first weekend of the carnival. The vice-president of Ashotel, Gabriel Wolgeschaffen, has been very satisfied with the results, which surpassed the forecast of 90 percent that was expected in the beginning.

Last year's occupation was 83 percent.

Hoteliers want Santa Cruz to be promoted as a City of Carnival all year round.

Between March 1 and 10, 21,200 cruise ship passengers arrived at the capital, such as the "AidaStella", which only on Saturday 9, Day Carnival, brought some 2,800 visitors.

Personally, the number of cruise ship passengers is a bit of wishful thinking. Yes, that number called into port during those dates, but I checked the schedules and there were only two ships, the AidaStella and the Black Watch on 5 March that were in at a time when passengers could have seen any of the carnival events. Someone please let the cruise companies, the port authorities and the council know that they're missing a trick here.

More people, less waste

In spite of the historical figures of affluence, the council registered a descent in the waste generated in relation to 2018 by about 83 tons. In particular, this year 444.7 tons of solid urban waste were collected, against the 528.3 tons of the last edition.

Some 36.7 tons of 'light packaging' were collected, which shows that the actions initiated in relation to recycling have begun to pay off. In 2018 only 930 kilos were collected. (I'll admit it, I had serious doubts over the ability of drunk people to separate their recycling!)

The cleaning operation resulted in 7,819 hours of work and the use of just over 3.3 million liters of water, practically all desalinated and 3,421 liters of chemical products used.

The municipal cleaning services deployed during the festivities, an extraordinary operation, integrated by more than 200 operators and fifty vehicles.

Yes, the streets did look this bad in the mornings, but it's a party. It's going to happen. It gets dealt with. Someone gets a job. For which, I reckon they need medals!

One negative: on the morning of Carnival Tuesday especially, after the big party the night before, the streets of Santa Cruz smelled like 100,000 tom cats had come in and marked their territory. It was rank! And I had survived the toilets at Knebworth Festival in 1979. Clearly 190 portaloos is not enough and we saw many people not using them.

Increase of passengers on public transport

Tenerife's public bus company TITSA, transported 706.606 passengers during Carnival 2019 on routes destined for the Interchange of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which represents 23.7% more travelers with respect to the last year's carnival.

On Saturday March 9, coinciding with the celebration of the second Daytime Carnival, 79,878 passengers used public transport, 28.6% more than in 2018.

This increase in the use of public transport affected all the routes that connect the capital with the main urban centers of the north and south of the island, as well as the metropolitan area. The company had reinforced the service with 262,000 additional seats and 562 additional drivers.

The operation of the service ran without major incidents thanks to the deployment of a special security service that included more than 40 agents distributed both in the buses and in the interchanges of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and La Laguna.

The tram moved 258,855 people during the ten days of Carnival.

Safety and emergency 

The safety and emergency personnel who worked during the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, comprised of almost 1,500 people (compare that to the 13,020 police deployed at Notting Hill last year for only double the number of carnival-goers), has increased its level of coordination and work this year due to the expected increase in public. We felt that the number of police in Santa Cruz was appropriate: enough to make you feel safe, not so many as to make you feel that they were there to stop you having a good time.

The facilities of the Carnival Hospital (Red Cross First Aid Post) were attended by just 681 people, representing a 9% increase over the previous year. Despite this increase, the relationship between the number of people and the number of attentions remains in line with recent years. The number of people who were attended to due to alcohol consumption remains at almost 45 percent of the total. The second cause for which first aid was needed was for injuries resulting from falls or cuts from broken glass in the street.

The number of assaults decreased, by 3 percent, despite the greater number of people at the Carnival events.

National Police under their Operation Neptuno 2019, charged and fined 382 individuals for drug consumption and possession in a public area (yes, I smelt that in various places too), another five were charged with possession of a weapon, while seven were taken to police stations because they refused to identify themselves.

In comparison with previous years, the police are highlighting the relatively better public behaviour by carnival-goers.


The competitions, galas and parades, including the three Carnival Queen galas, were witnessed live by more than 320,000 people. The following are the most relevant data:
  • Friday 1 March - Opening Parade of Carnaval 2019. Participants: 10,000 Spectators: 87,000
  • Saturday 2 March - Rhythm and Harmony Comparsas. Participants: 1,000 Spectators: 52,000
  • Tuesday 5 March - Carnival Main Parade. Participants: 8,000 Spectators: 80,000
  • Wednesday 6 March - Burial of the Sardine. Participants: 30,000

To get a million people to come to 'my 10 day birthday party' (it was on the Tuesday, the main day of carnival and the reason we went this year) was quite an achievement. Thank goodness I didn't have to buy them a round! No idea how I will ever top that.

And then there's next year to look forward to: the dates for Carnival 2020 are here.

The video below packs all of the emotion of those ten days of carnival into 2.5 minutes. To achieve that the editing is nothing short of genius. Knowing I was there and saw most of these things in the flesh, makes my heart pound, takes my breath away, brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. Carnival gets under your skin and does that to you!

Vídeo resumen del Carnaval 2019

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