Thursday, February 18, 2021

Which is the best Tenerife carnival parade?

The five main Carnival Parades in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 2020

This year, of course, none of the carnival parades have been able to take place and right now, we have no idea if or when they will be able to do so in their previous formats again. But should they do so, which one is best? If you could only go to one of them, which one should you choose? Hopefully, this will help. These five are the main parades:

Cabalgata anunciadora - Opening Parade

There is a special sort of excitement surrounding the first parade in the streets each year on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday. And it takes place in the evening, which imparts a different atmosphere than daytime parades, although it starts early enough for kids to see the start of it at least. At the end of the parade are the many decorated vehicles - busses and trucks made into truly mobile discos - and it goes on for around four hours or so and rolls right into the first night of the orchestras and other night time entertainments that go on until dawn. The fun fair should be operating and there will be plenty of street food, so you can get a flavour of everything. The only downside to choosing the Opening Parade as the only one to go to, would be then wanting to stay for all the rest once you're hooked!

Ritmo y Armonía - Rhythm & Harmony

Part show, part parade and part contest, the Rhythm & Harmony Comparsas Contest usually takes place on the first Saturday night of carnival week. The comparsa dance troupes display their talents and the adult carnival queen and her court of around four maids of honour take part in this event, but not the other candidates, nor the junior and senior queens. Perfectly good if you want lively, a bit shorter than the other parades and just a flavour of carnival and a Saturday Night Out. It is also one of the events for which you can normally get tickets for the stands if you want somewhere to sit relatively comfortably to watch.

Coso Apoteosis - Carnival Main Parade

Obviously, as the main parade of carnival, on Shrove Tuesday, this has the participation of everyone and his dog (often literally). Beginning quite promptly at around 4pm (the need to keep to TV schedules these days) and going on for around four hours, is early enough for a leisurely dinner before going out in the evening, or in time for almost everyone's bedtime. Always headed up by the murga group, Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá, the parade follows an established order of winning comparsas, the carnival queen, then down the list of murgas, comparsas, maids of honour, junior carnival queen and her court, senior queen then her court, other groups, personalities, decorated floats, some of the non-winning carnival candidates may parade too, et al. There are probably around 100 carnival groups of various type in total, so it is thousands of people. You will see everyone in this parade. You can also get seats in the stands to make it a bit more comfortable, although it can get a bit warm if the weather is good: it could be worse if it rained, I guess. Because it is the main event, it would be easy to choose this as the one that simply cannot be missed and maybe it is.

Entierro de la Sardina - Burial of the Sardine

Blasphemous and pornographic, this is the ideal family night out! No, seriously, despite appearances, it is a safe and friendly night and what else did you have to do on Ash Wednesday anyway? It is surreal. It is weirder than anything you could ever imagine. The whole concept of holding a funeral for an effigy of a fish and parading it through the city, with half the congregation dressed up as dildo-waving clergy as a piss-take and mourning it in very sexualised drag befitting street-walkers is, well, alien to us. But if you're looking for something you definitely won't see anywhere else, this could be the one.

Coso Infantil - Children's Carnaval Parade

If you just want to dip your toe into carnival waters and are not quite ready for the big parades or hedonistic all-nighters, or you have kids yourself, then this is the parade for you. See the junior carnival queen and her court, as well as a plethora of small people in the cutest costumes. The Children's Carnival Parade opens the final weekend of carnival.

Obviously, there's no 'best', it depends on who you are and what you like.
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