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Tenerife: The Carnival You’ve Never Heard Of!

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barrio east shoreditch mojitosOh, hey, did you see my new travel category? It’s been a long time coming – mostly because I had to convince myself that you’d actually want to read this stuff, so please tell me you do?? – but I couldn’t fight the urge any longer. I have so, so many photos and memories from Vietnam, Thailand, Jordan, Paris and other fab destinations saved up, plus some super fun plans for the future, and I couldn’t be selfish and keep them all to myself.

And what a way to kick it all off than with what may be my most colourful post – and even the most colourful evening of my life – yet: A little peek at what happens when you put dozens of bloggers, 2 piñatas, 12 headdresses, 5 glue guns, several Thomas Cook cabin crew members, 2 samba teachers named Leny and Romero, countless mojitos and what feels like all of London’s glitter and feather supplies into the colourful Barrio East, Shoreditch for the evening. MAGIC.

thomas cook carnival fiesta
Straight to the free mojitos and caipirinhas with Hannah, Jess and Leigh & getting crafty with Tink and Lubka. Don’t let my concentration face fool you into thinking I created anything spectacular…It’s lying.

So why were we doing this on a Tuesday evening? All of the above was, in fact, part of an event organised by Thomas Cook to introduce us to a little-known but super exciting European getaway: Tenerife’s Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival.

Did you know that Tenerife has a carnival? Did you know it’s the second biggest carnival in the world? Nope, I had no idea either! And if that’s not enough to make you do a little (samba) dance of joy, you can get to Tenerife for less than £40. Move over, Rio…

And what an introduction it was! After a show-stopping introductory dance from our Samba teachers for the evening, Thomas Cook brought all the explosive colour, energy and fun of Tenerife’s carnival to us with a headdress-making station (which, if you’re clumsy like me/had already been hitting back the caipirinhas, included some dangerous glue gun action, oops), cocktail making classes, glittery make-up and some carnival-tastic tunes.

carnival samba and cocktail classes
Seriously, HOW adorable is this inflatable plane? I was gushing over him all night and was far too excited to find one in my goody bag. He is by far my favourite goody bag gift ever (beating even the fossilised shark’s tooth!). He sits in my room and makes me smile. Now I just need a name for him – any ideas?

We also got a chance to talk to the Thomas Cook cabin crew and Tenerife tourism representatives to find out all about the (real) carnival. The carnival takes place in January or February every year and makes for the perfect winter getaway as the constant warm climate means you can wear your best carnival clothes – including the colourful shorts you bought for one festival and never had chance to wear again. Time to dig them back out and half the cost per wear – hooray!

Next year’s carnival is taking place over the first two weeks of February, with the big Santa Cruz parade happening on the 9th. The theme will be the roaring 80’s and you can expect colourful galas, the crowning of the carnival queen, drumming troupes, street parties and entertaining songs from local ‘Murga’ singing groups before wrapping up with the burning of a sardine. At #CarnivalFiesta we didn’t burn any sardines, but we did whack a couple of fish with sweeties inside with sticks:

fish pinatas
Even the fish look like they’re having a great time…

I’ve been to Tenerife once before, over 10 years ago now on a family holiday that was all about sun, sea and dolphins. In fact, I think it was pretty much just for the dolphins. I was obsessed with dolphins. And as much as I now hate to confess, I did think Tenerife was purely for sun seekers. Although I love the sun and the sea, I also like to throw some exploration into my trips. Because, y’know, I like to think I’m adventurous and all that.

Finding out about the mountains, colonial architecture, heritage sites, the third largest volcano in the world and, of course, the world’s second biggest carnival has really opened my eyes to just how much the biggest Canary Island has to offer. You can pretty much have any type of holiday you like there – or mix them all up for one super holiday. As Enrique, a charmingly enthusiastic member of the Tenerife Tourist Board who flew over to share some of the island’s secrets with us, put it, “you can do anything in Tenerife – except ski!”. (Random fact about me: I’ve never been skiing! Unless dry skiing counts?)

thomas cook blogger eventSo do you want to go to Tenerife yet? Because I sure do! Turns out I have an inner carnival queen who wants to shake it like Shakira, pig out on prawns and chorizo, and listen to S Club 7’s ‘Viva La Fiesta’ on repeat (anyone else remember that TUNE? Or is it just me?). I’ve always dreamed of going to Rio (blame the parrot film, ahem) but Tenerife is just so much more doable, earning it a well-deserved spot on next year’s bucket list.

A final word…

You can tell when a brand has put a lot of effort into an event and is enthusiastic about sharing their product with you, and this really was such an incredibly fun night. The staff were all smiles and every little thing had been thought out – the only thing I would have  changed was to have been able to stay until closing time! Thank you to Thomas Cook for inviting me along because I had a truly fantastic night and learned a lot too!


Have you ever heard of Tenerife’s carnival? Would you like to go? 



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