Archive for January 13th, 2008
Stage set for Carnaval 2008


Get your dancing shoes on and prepare to party, it’s nearly Carnaval time, and while all the towns around the island prepare for their regional celebrations, Santa Cruz is gearing up to be the biggest, boldest and brashest of all.

Second only to Rio de Janiero in size and grandeur, Santa Cruz draws in crowds from all over the world with it’s mix of music, dance rythms, costume and pageantry and despite taking a few knocks in recent years it’s still the event of the year.

This year because of the ongoing work to the Plaza de España, the main stage for the big events has been moved to the car park of the Parque Maritimo, on the seafront just before the hook nosed auditorium and opposite the Recinto Ferial exhibition hall. The Carnaval theme this year is Magic and the huge lavish stage and tiered seating for 9,000 people has risen up high into the skyline thanks to a team of 50 construction workers. It’s an impressive sight but im not too keen on heights and the thought of being perched at the top of the seating with the open maze of scaffolding below, fills me with dread, especially if the crowd start dancing in their seats.

Local neighbours groups have denounced the Carnaval the last 2 years for excessive noise in the streets so this year the council have tried to head that off by agreeing on limits to noise and cut off times, and from next year, the main stage will be moved to the dockside, not a popular move with the purists who can’t understand what the fuss is all about.

The qualifying rounds for the main events such as adult, senior and childrens Carnaval Queen start this week with the big showpiece finals on the stage. Tickets went on sale on Friday, some people camped out over night to ensure theirs. They are on sale at the Recinto Ferial from 8am to 8pm all week apart from Sundays when it’s 10 to 1pm and 5 to 8pm. There is a limit of 6 tickets per person and there are various discount rates for large familes, for instance, for the biggest event, the election of the adult Carnaval Queen, tickets range down from 10 euros.

Some of the main dates are January 20-Childrens Carnaval Queen election, January 35-Adult murgas final, Janaury30-adult Carnaval Queen and February 6-the burial of the sardine. For the uninitiated, the murgas are brightly dressed bands playing kazoo like instruments and singing satirical songs attacking politicians and local figures. The burial of the sardine is a big funeral procession with a giant papier mache sardine carried amongst a group of mourners dressed in widows weeds, crying and fainting. It ends when the sardine is burnt amid a cascade of fireworks.

The widows tend to be mainly men in drag, a common theme at Carnaval, if you have a few drinks chaps and have a dance with a nice looking lady, don’t be surprised to find she has hairy arms and that little bit extra that might shock you if you start getting amorous. The main thing though is to join in the spirit of Carnaval, you are more likely to look odd if you are not in fancy dress. Go and have fun and let the rythm take you over.