This carnival is the best known and celebrated festival on the island, especially in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital. Over several days, brightly coloured costumes and lively carnival-goers flood the streets of the city with an extraordinary festive atmosphere. The "fiesta" in the streets of Santa Cruz starts on the Friday before Carnival Tuesday (shrove Tuesday) with a spectacular opening procession, which reaches its height during the night: thousands of carnival-goers in fancy dress dance and enjoy themselves until the early hours of the next day.
The party continues night after night until Ash Wednesday when the people of Santa Cruz "entierran la sardina" (burial of the sardine) and carnival is officially over. However, the party starts up again the following weekend, known as the weekend of "piñata".
But before the street carnival begins, the Santa Cruz Carnival has already enjoyed some great events, such as the election of the Carnival Queen, who is crowned during an amazing gala in which hundreds of amateur performers take part: these performers are the life and soul of the carnival. During this spectacular show, the candidates to be the queen parade on the stage dressed in fantastic costumes that stand out for the creativity and ingenuity of their designers.
The carnival groups are also stars of this festival. Throughout most of the year their members, all of them amateurs, rehearse to ensure their songs and dances are just right. Comparsas (dance groups), Murgas (comic groups), Rondallas (singing groups) and other musical groups all have their own special character.
The people of Santa Cruz really take part and celebrate their carnival. They celebrated it in the past, when the political regime of General Franco banned this celebration all over Spain. However, they could not stop it in Tenerife, where it was disguised as a Winter Festival: the people on Tenerife refused to give up this colourful and lively tradition.