Slip into some fishnets, put on your highest heels, and get ready for some hedonistic street celebrations in the Canary Islands.
And if you’re a man, borrow a party frock, stuff a couple of balloons down the front, and no-one will turn a hair.
When Tenerife Carnival starts, it’s time to shed your inhibitions and join in with the revelry!
If a trip to Rio is beyond your budget, the Tenerife Carnival is the most Brazilian of all the Spanish carnivals, an extravaganza of colour, light, music and mayhem.
So how did this all start?
Tenerife Carnival arrived along with the conquistadors at the end of the 15th century.
Like carnivals everywhere, it was a chance for a last big bash before Lent.
The Catholic Church tried to ban it, then Franco’s regime sent it underground.
Masks and cross-dressing were crucial for identity concealment – now they’re simply a part of the electrifying atmosphere.
Street parties start up in Santa Cruz
Tenerife gets into the Latin spirit in the weeks before Lent begins, so the start date varies each year.
Main celebrations are in the capital city, Santa Cruz – and most events are free.
So once you’ve sorted out a flight and a place to stay, you’re all set for a week or two of fun and flamboyance.
Carnival Tenerife-style can be both exhausting and exhilarating.
The best street parties take place over the opening and closing weekends, but check the dates for the main events in each part of the island.
Santa Cruz is a popular base, so the crowds can be overwhelming.
Boogie to the beat in Santa Cruz
The first major event of the Carnival is the opening parade – this year’s theme in Santa Cruz is cartoon characters.
What follows is a full week of masked balls, daytime parades full of scantily-clad dancers in flamboyant outfits, and long nights of dancing in the streets to the pulsing beat of Latino-style bands, old-school disco classics and Spanish pop.
Hundreds of thousands of people take part, and it’s very much a pick-and-mix party.
Don’t think you must see everything, or you’ll end up worn out on the first day.
The elected Carnival Queens and their entourages ride elaborately-decorated parade floats, in overwhelmingly huge costumes.
So enormous that they have to be mounted on wheels so that their wearers can move.
Down a Dorada – or two
No real need to pack a picnic for the parades – roadside stalls provide an endless flow of beer for the thirsty, while tempting food stands fill the air with the aromas of street food specialities.
Every Canarian carnival celebration tempts visitors with typical dishes to try.
On Tenerife, snack on tortillas de carnaval, small round pancakes served warm and drizzled with honey.
Santa Cruz mourns the sardine
The most surreal of the carnival events in Santa Cruz has to be the Burial of the Sardine.
On Ash Wednesday, a giant papier-mâché sardine, fluttering long eyelashes and painted with bright red lipstick is carried through the streets.
The Sardine is followed by a funeral cortège of men in drag.
It’s not often that you get to see a huge transvestite fish at the centre of an ostentatious funeral, so make the most of it.
The mourners do – they’re decked out in a parody of widows’ weeds, wailing and sometimes collapsing with grief (or perhaps one too many beers).
It’s a little like the Rocky Horror Show crossed with a gypsy wedding, and the night ends with a flashy firework display, as the Big Sardine meets a fiery end.
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