Archive for the 'Art & Culture' Category
Coso Parade Sews A Seam Of Jollity And Colour Through The Heart Of Los Cristianos

Noses were pressed against the ropes dividing the Coso parade route from the pavements and bars for hours before the off. It’s the big showpiece spectacle that everyone flocks to on the final Sunday afternoon of carnaval celebrations and it always excels beyond expectations.

The back road below Guaza Mountain was throbbing with activity as all the groups and vehicles assembled. The infant and senior Carnaval Queen had been elected and the dance groups had strutted their stuff in the week so an end of term exuberance replaced the competitive edge. Vianney Casiana Garcia Chinea burnt brightly in her orange and black winning fantasy, and Nayara Plasencia Gonzalez was magnificent in her pink and gray Infant Queen winning design. All the runners up also got to shine, they may have been high up on lorries but they were all floating on the adulation of the 25,000 crowd.

Some of the parade entrants had already revealed the glories of their outfits during the weeks events but many had saved their big wow outfits for the Coso, others were making their first appearance, and plenty of the crowd that packed the route joined in with their own home made fancy dress contributions. Hotel and apartment roofs and balconies were well subscribed, bars and restaurants along the road side were run off their feet, and mums and dads dutifully lifted their offspring to new heights.

It’s a thirsty old business having fun on this scale, volunteer organizers made sure bottled water was plentiful but for those wanting something a bit more uplifting the floats and multi layered costumes became instant drinks cabinets. There’s always a lot of interaction along the route, everyone wants their photo taken with the joyous characters and they were always ready to oblige. The pulling power of Tenerife is never clearer than at these big set piece festivals, the mix of languages and home countries was as diverse as those taking part. Schools, youth, and dance groups are the driving force for much of the Carnaval celebrations, some of the youngest entrants had a bit of stage shyness but there’s always a helping hand and a few encouraging word.

Working its way up from Paloma Beach to the city centre and showground was the usual stop start affair, well who wants to hurry on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The brow of the hill is one of the popular vantage points, from there I could see the procession stretching back like a huge multi coloured serpent. Full marks to the drummers for keeping up the driving rhythm, and I’m sure there will be a few sore feet and legs after all that dancing. That wont stop the showground from rocking into the wee hours of the morning!


Los Cristianos Is Dressed To Thrill For Day Carnaval

A sizzling hot dog was thrust into one hand and a cold beer into the other and I was still just outside the showground in Los Cristianos, Tenerife, for the daytime carnaval celebrations. The parking area next to the Valdes Centre had been hosting the late night shows all week but now there was a youthful feel with a noon start and top acts from Spain’s top 40 pumping out infectious dance tunes.

Local supermarket shelves had been depleted as a multi coloured fancy dress army swept through like thirsty locusts and small groups gathered around clinking bags on the upper walkways of the commercial hub. The BBQ greeting was a tasty welcome and I even managed to eat and drink while clicking away at the sea of wonderful costumes that awaited me.

The previous weeks cabalgata opening parade was a bit more regimented, this afternoon revealed the hard work that had been going on in many homes to deck out entire families in original and amusing outfits. The bank of speakers ensured the music was heard and felt and the bars and food stalls inside the showground were also doing a roaring trade as inhibitions were loosened. Traffic was diverted from a couple of the main roads into the city centre and the crowd ebbed and flowed down towards the seafront as police and the fire brigade kept a discreet and watchful eye on the fun.

There was another focus for the party, Plaza del Pescadora near the old beach had it’s own smaller stage and was featuring zumba and dance. I felt quite exhausted just watching the energetic exertions of the dance groups but plenty of holiday makes were drawn in to shake a leg. A fancy dress competition was lined up for late in the afternoon and each new batch that arrived brought more admiring glances, the Ghostbusters, and The Bee Gees complete with a mass of chew sets, were among my favourites. They were all winners in my book and more music and dance followed their spell in the spotlight.

I headed back up through the showground and the crowd still had plenty of energy. The big stage featured late night into early morning music and dance each night of carnaval and the fun fair next door was enticing screams of enjoyment as super heroes and cartoon characters crammed into gravity defying seats. The day carnaval is a fairly recent addition for Arona but it has proved to be a roaring success, and there’s still plenty more to be squeezed out.



Cabalgata Parade Welcomes Cuba To Los Cristianos Carnaval

Feathers, glitter, high heels, face paint, and hours of dedication are the basic recipes for a good carnaval parade but it’s the people who make it come to life. The 2016 theme for Los Cristianos Carnaval was Old Havana so there were plenty of Cuban influences as the opening cabalgata parade assembled outside Veronicas in Playa de Las Americas.

The carnaval is the pride of Arona and the big introduction linked the two big resorts in the municipality. As afternoon beach time merged into evening food time a stream of enthusiasts of all ages slipped into their costumes, and found their chalked off areas outside the nightclub capital of Tenerife south. Many holiday makers, including a couple of large stag parties soon caught the bug and memorable poses were struck with dancing girls, drummers, and famous characters such as Popeye, and Harpo Marx.

Crisp, loud drum beats brought everyone to attention and off the parade set in a cacophony of noise and colour as it worked its way past hotels with bulging balconies. Even on a slightly cool march evening the performers must have felt very hot under all their trimmings but the energy levels never dropped as the long stretch of revelers moved slowly towards Los Cristianos. Husbands and wives found themselves being snatched and enveloped into the heart of the parade much to the amusement of their camera totting other half’s.

Maybe it was a response to the surge in Tenerife visitors or maybe the ever more resourceful creations of the entrants but it seemed to attract even bigger crowds than in recent years. Vantage points were as always at a premium and even delicious dinners and intoxicating cocktails were temporarily ignored as cafe and restaurant guests rose to enjoy the spectacle. By the time the leaders had disrobed at the CC Oasis shopping centre a good two hours had passed and people were slowly melting away to enjoy the further temptations of the showground set up next to the Valdes Centre.

After adjourning for a cheeky beer I popped into the showground to see how the new addition of a wig party was being received. Despite combing the area I found the headgear a little thin on top but there were plenty of dancers up and swaying as music belted out from the main stage. It had all the makings of a classic carnaval, I will have further reports and photos, there’s always plenty of fun to go around.

Cherubs Candles Pink Poodles And Art By The Box Full

Whatever happened to paper chains and home made calendars, we even made little card baskets at infant school and were rewarded with a chocolate Santa as a passenger. A bit of imagination can go a long way to making special festive decorations so I was in my element at the Artbelen in the Centro de Arte La Recova in Santa Cruz. A big hall full of recycled winter treats including sweet wrapper bells was one of the highlights of my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz.

Rewinding to the La Laguna start point, a pair of coloured poodles on guard outside a shop reminded me that the day wasn’t just going to be about cribs and wise men. The psychedelic canines nearly sidetracked me from my meeting with the ducks in Parque de la Constitucion. Last years final touches to the fire damaged cathedral saw the removal of the ancient duck pond and the eviction of the waddling inhabitants, the feathers really flew as locals protested furiously. Eventually a new pond was built in the park at a cost of 100,000 euros and the ducks had recently been resettled. They looked well fed and happy, they weren’t even phased by me waving a box of Paxo stuffing at them.

Back down in La Laguna I found a familiar side street that always has some entertaining figures up high on the buildings. This year they had been embellished a little with nice capsules to sit in and little penguins for company. It was nice to see the smiles on peoples faces as they glanced up and clocked the colourful characters. It was all very whimsical and in keeping with the charming character of the interlocking streets. La Laguna seems to have side stepped the more vulgar and commercial trappings of Christmas, the indoor market in Plaza del Cristo was bustling and a giant stage was taking shape ready for the big fiesta nights ahead.

The best was yet to come in Santa Cruz, I had seen the Artbelen last year and was eager to see what they would make this time around. There were several big set pieces like a sprawling nativity scene made from pressed and twisted polythene but the overall theme was of presents bursting forth from boxes. Discarded day to day packaging had been transformed into fun creations full of colour and character. The material used included 2,500 plastic bottles, 60 carton tubes, 500 drink cans, and 300 square metres of wrapping paper. The hall is next to the Teatro Guimera and the exhibition is open until 5 January from 6pm to 10pm and free to go in.

There was only one thing that could top, or bottom, that and the tour of the traditional nativity belens, a Caganer. This Catalan tradition features a peasant in the nativity scene doing his own recycling by adding some home made fertilizer to the earth. I spotted one in the belen at CC Tres de Mayo taking a subtle dump in the shop window. I was chuckling all the way back to Los Cristianos.

Away In A Manger In La Laguna And Santa Cruz

Whether you call him Santa Claus or Papa Noel, the big jolly chap in the red suit is everywhere but there are more traditional figures to look out for as my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz revealed.

I’m not the most religious person and should be almost grown up by now but I still enjoy all the build up to the festive season. The enchanted faces and tuneful singing of a school party at Casa de Las Capitanes in La Laguna made a great first stop in my annual tour of the nativity based belens. It was rock solid old school in the central courtyard of the old building with the wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus joined by a few assorted farm animals. There were even more gasps of delight as the party moved into the display hall to walk around a large model depicting all the elements of the Christmas tale.

Up at the top end of town there was a display of art and relics at the Instituto de Canarias which fitted in nicely with the religious mood. Herencia unites paintings, statues, and artifacts from the long gone Iglesias de Los Remedios. Most of the items were from the 1,500 and 1,600’s including a striking wooden sculpture of Our Lady of the Remedios and an imposing study of San Miguel Arcangel about to smite the devil with his sword. This free exhibition goes on until 1 March 2015 with opening from Tuesday to Friday 11 to 2 and 5 to 8pm and just the early session on Saturdays and Sundays.

Not a bad haul for the first leg of my visit, the tram soon had me down in Santa Cruz with the Cabildo (Tenerife government) building on my list. This was the 26th year of their belen and as always it was a tasteful mix of the Christmas story with very detailed models of basic farming life in biblical times. A collection for charity is the price of admission, this year it is for UNICEF to help children. Basic opening hours are 9 to 3 and 4 to 9.30 pm, the exceptions are for 24 & 31 December when it’s just 9 to 3, and 25 December, and 1 & 6 January when it’s 4 to 9.30 pm.

A quick snack and some holy water (Dorada in my case) and I was back on the case just off Calle Castillo in the Caja Canarias bank HQ near Plaza del Principe. This is another regular stop and had been given a bit of a new look this season. Instead of being around the walls the scenes were grouped together in a central block depicting the shepherds in the hills, village life with moving models, and thee long trek of the three kings. What makes it special is the stream that trickles through the landscape and the lighting that dims and brightens to recreate the cycle of the day every few minutes. If you want to be captivated pop in until 5 January from 11.30 to 1.30 pm, and 5 to 8.30 pm, on Sundays 10 to 1.30 pm but closed on public holidays. On the way out I found some local mature musicians playing timple and belting out some cheery yuletide folk songs.

Just when I thought it was a wrap I found a new and unexpected late call, this time in the CC Tres de Mayo shopping centre just up from the bus station. Hiperdino supermarket have provided this one and it has a strong Canarian theme with several Tenerife landmarks on the skyline. A nice antidote to the commercial attractions of the centre and a pleasing sign off for my trip.

Candle Lights And Spot Lights In Los Cristianos

Bubbling up nicely, that’s the Tenerife run in to the festive season, and on Saturday night it was all sweetness and light in Los Cristianos. Inflatable Santa’s were swaying in the breeze, small versions of the Three Kings were scaling walls and window ledges, and music wafted through the air.

My first call was the church for the Scandinavian service of Santa Lucia, there’s a strong Scandinavian community in Los Cristianos as the tourism boom was started over 50 years ago by elderly and ill Scandinavians coming over for the healthy properties of our climate. Santa Lucia marks the longest night of the year in Scandinavia and the gleaming white costumes and candles of the choir make it a beautiful sight to see. The church was packed to overflowing and the singing was angelic, even to this little devil.

Feeling uplifted I moved onto the large marquee at the old beach side of the tunnel, it’s the venue for weekend events through thee festive season and this time it was health, beauty, and fashion. One half was stalls from Arona based shops and the other half was a stage and catwalk for models to strut their stuff, I was drawn like a moth to a flame. All the clothes on display were from business’s in Arona and the intention was to promote sales.

The young amateur models were very good, it must have been quite nerve wracking to be watched by a decent sized crowd but they showed poise and elegance. Unfortunately most of the audience were “mature” and the clothes were aimed at a younger market, I couldn’t really imagine most of the crowd popping down the supermarket or to church in the glamorous outfits being twirled. The music too was very much modern pop stuff – not really my cup of tea, but then I am an old fogey.

It was a good show, better publicity may have attracted a wider mix of audience, including those looking to spend a bit of money. So that left me with a bit of a thirst and the night still fairly young, a few bars on the way home and I was ready to catwalk up the hill in my designer trainers, jeans, and non football shirt – well someone must have designed them.

Eating Up The Advent Season With Tastes Of Arona

Hold the sprouts, I’m not quite ready yet but I could be tempted by sweet treats – especially if they are free. Arona Ayuntamiento (council) has arranged a bulging programme of attractions for Christmas and the arrival of a large marquee in Los Cristianos got my taste buds dancing in anticipation.

Saturday evening was the Fiesta of the Chefs White Hat and when I arrived just after the 7pm opening there was a steady tide of visitors making their way into the marquee. It was split into two halves, on one side the wine was flowing, all produced from local bodegas, being a beer man I just had a small sip of red. On the other side the tables were groaning under the weight of 100 metres of hojaldre, a pastry delight filled with gofio and banana cream. The massive pastry had been cut into 2,000 small blocks and many were cruising past for a second time to take a slice.

The pastry was delicious and the filling oozed out of the sides as I bit into one, and then several others. The tasty spread was made and presented by ACYRE Canarias, the association of cooks and bakers, and I noticed top chef Juan Carlos Clemente playing a leading role. The last time I saw Juan Carlos he was up to his gills in tuna at a show cooking event in Los Abrigos, my tummy purred with joy at the memory of the fishy samples.

The evening outside was a little cool but we were all warm as toast under the bustling canvas. It was a nice mix of older locals and curious tourists, many of them were wearing the tribute tall white hats that were being handed out. Apart from stoking up festive cheer, the idea was to promote local food and drink and it did a good job of that. The next night it was the turn of Tastes of Arona, I was only able to make the last knockings of this after heading back from Santa Cruz. CD Tenerife had win so I was in a jolly Dorada fuelled mood and the sight of the delicately crafted cakes and biscuits added a glow to my night.

Most of the stalls were getting ready to pack away, I loitered by a large display of Trucos, small pasties containing spicy meat. Canarian music had been performed earlier on a small outside stage and several people told me how much they enjoyed it. The last of the trucos were being handed out to grateful visitors so I took a bundle for a late supper, so much better than the stale, rock hard pies that haunted my old football days back home.


Ten-Diez Art To FIT An Adeje Frame

New venue, new artists, and new creations from the artistic cream of the Canary Islands, no wonder I was drawn to the third exhibition from the Ten-Diez Movement. The new setting was FIT Canarias (Factoria de Innovacion Turistica) in El Galeon, just below Adeje town. Descending the spiral stairs in this bright new venue I was greeted by a nice mix of artists (33 are displaying) and enthusiasts enjoying 200 contributions.

My previous visit had been for a press conference but this time the smaller annex room was my starting point for a browse, Carlos Ortega’s montage of images (above) jumped out at me with their vivid, bold colours and Raul Ortega’s panoramic black and white interpretations of Tenerife’s volcanic glory also made a strong impression. Al mediums of art are embraced by Ten-Diez and I knew from their previous shows that the quality would be high.

All the artists have a presence in the Canary Islands but come from diverse backgrounds, Sergio Diaz from Madrid is a man who likes to travel and his photographic captures from his journeys caught my eye in the main hall. It was a nice surprise to see Tania Coello Vega with her nature inspired paintings, you may well have already appreciated her appetite for natural wonders. Tania designed the sea life murals that now adorn the harbour wall in Los Cristianos, a year long project recently completed by students of the art faculty at La Laguna University.

Mark Fradley is the founder and driving force of Ten-Diez, I grabbed a few words with him as he organized the launch evening. “ We have been planning this since last years event and feel that although the change of venue means less exhibits we have a wider scope. Around half of our exhibitors are new to Ten-Diez and we have artists with no previous exhibition exposure as well as those with more history. Adeje Ayuntamiento (council) have backed us since our first event three years ago and we are grateful to a wide spread of sponsors and collaborators. The culture department of Adeje Ayuntamiento are judging the competition for best exhibit and runner up in the exhibition, and we have a photographic contest with a sporting theme for the GoPro FIT Canarias No Limits prize.”

Back in the main body of the hall there was a constant stream of works to admire from portraits to abstract impressions, some in traditional acrylics and others like Tina Cubeddu’s studies made from shells and small stones. Photographic offerings make use of black and white, and colour, like the range of faces from Mikol Olivares. All the art at Ten-Diez is for sale, the choice of sizes and prices will make it easy for visitors to pick up something unique and special for the Christmas shopping list. Doors are open from Monday 1st December to Friday 5th, from 9 to 4.30 pm Monday to Thursday and 9 to 10 pm on Friday. It’s easy to find and on the Titsa bus route, take the left turn at the roundabout as you head up into Adeje town, it’s part of the CDTCA complex (above). To find out more about Ten-Diez during and after the exhibition just click on the this link.

A Clean Bill Of Health For Art And The West Coast

Casting my far from expert eye over artistic offerings is usually a Santa Cruz calling so it was nice to hear of a new exhibition in Callao Salvaje, a timely opportunity to see if the west coast had escaped the rain that battered the east.

After following the long drawn out rebirth of Playa Ajabo beach I had only been back once since it opened in May 2012. What a pleasure to see sun beds all laid out and no after effects of the lesser rain the previous week brought to this side of the island. One of the keys to funding the running of the beach was the two tier food bar at the back of the sand. Now fully open it looks terrific, a snack bar below and a large terraced restaurant above and they looked well used. I noticed the snack bar prices were very cheap, baguettes 2.90 or burger and chips 1.75, with no nearby competition I might have expected much dearer. The Sansibar Ajabo Restaurante looked well set out with a big BBQ area, I will have to try the food next trip up.

My main mission though was to check out the Tendencias Realistas exhibition at the former Policlinica in Perla Blanca. Eight artists in a spacious series of old consulting rooms on the edge of the rocky coast, there was plenty to appreciate for but I saved some of the more saucey ones for here. Ceramics, black and white photos, portraits, and surreal flights of fancy, plenty for all tastes and prices. It’s open Thursday to Sunday from 2 to 7pm until 26 January or you can see more at

Back out in the sun I headed around the beach and up over the low cliff top path to Playa Paraiso. It’s a short walk with a shallow barranco to scrabble down and up, no problem for a young gazelle like me, well more of an old goat. The sea was calm and as the path gave way to the smoother promenade I couldn’t see any trace of the previous weeks heavy rain, Playa Las Galgas had a good sprinkling of people and the big hotels had plenty worshipping the fading sun as cloud rolled over. With all this new development it’s a pity to see the Roca Mar commercial centre still abandoned so soon after its creation.

For me it was a Titsa bus to Playa de La Arena and another coastal walk through Puerto Santiago, over Crab Island to Los Gigantes to meet my holidaying friends in The Bamboo. I kept an eye out for interesting Christmas decorations but they were scarce, where are all the mini Santas climbing up walls and balconies this year? Maybe they have been arrested for suspected breaking and entering, I’m sure I will find some more ho ho ho in the weeks ahead.

Ten-Diez Wants Art To Flow At Magma Artes & Congresos

Culture in the south of Tenerife, now there’s one in the eye for all the cynics who can’t see beyond sun, sea, and sand. The seed sown by the Ten-Diez art movement two years ago is growing nicely and their latest gallery has just opened with a dozen exhibitors at Las Americas Magma Artes & Congresos, itself a bold merger of culture and commercialism.

Mark Fradley (top pic) is the driving force behind Ten-Diez and he explained the dream, the reality, and the ambitious future. “I was into photography as a teenager but work as an electrician and adult practicalities took over until I moved to Tenerife. That’s when inspired by the sea I took up my camera again but was frustrated by the lack of exhibition areas in the south to give a platform to myself and other artists.”

Mark wanted his exhibitions to show off the best face of art so he took the name from another type of craftsmen. “ Ten-Diez refers to the time 10.10 that clock and watch makers set their time pieces to so they showed the best possible view of their work.”

Magma plays a key role in the Ten-Diez movement and with a sweep of his hand Mark gave me a sneak preview of their biggest canvas “The Event” which will fill one of the large display areas on the first floor from 25 October to 2 November. “We will have 55 artists, local, national and international, and it will include photography, painting, and sculpture. This is a very versatile venue so we will make the most of it inside and out, a display of classic cars will set it off nicely.”

Back downstairs a new dimension was added to the large cavernous interior of Magma by the hot evening sun throwing lengthening shadows across the craggy concrete. The gathered artists all had a chance to introduce their work with a short speech and browsing beforehand I found a nice mix of mediums and subjects. The digital dogs and surreal surfscapes of Nikki Attree were full of fun and invention. Cayetano Gomez Barrato breathed new life into recycled materials for works that jumped out and demanded a reaction – yes that is an old mattress given a colourful makeover. Laura Serrano de Pedro delved into the deeps of the ocean with photos that gave an insight into a world of grace and mystery.

These were just a few of the selection on offer, all the works are for sale and represent some of the best artistic talent in Tenerife in photos, ink pen sketches, collage, creative use of technology, and most of all imagination and talent. The gallery is open Monday to Friday 9 to 3pm, Tuesday and Thursday also from 7 pm to midnight, and it’s free to view.