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Lonely Planet: Tenerife, Canary Islands
Tenerife, the biggest and best-known Canary Island, receives over 10 million visitors a year, most of whom head straight to the tourist resorts of the south. But step beyond the lobster-red sunloungers, lap dancers and best bitter on tap and what you'll find is a cultured and civilised island of extraordinary diversity.
This potpourri of experiences includes tropical-forest walks and designer-shop struts; dark forays into volcanic lava; a sexy and sultry Carnaval celebration that's second only to Rio, and a stash of museums, temples to modern art and creaky old colonial towns. But above all else this is an island of drama, and nothing comes more dramatic than the snow-draped Pico del Teide, Spain's tallest mountain and home to some of the most fabulous hiking in all the country.
Carnaval: a guide to party time in the Canary Islands
Location: Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Tenerife, a tiny Spanish island off the coast of Africa, is home to one of the world's largest carnival celebrations. Some quarter of a million party-goers converge on the Canary Island capital of Santa Cruz. This three-week event (culminating in the 24-hour party on Fat Tuesday) draws in everyone, if only because no-one can escape the action which captivates the whole island. As with all carnivals, there is something unique about the one that happens in Tenerife.
Carnaval was called off under the party-pooping Franco dictatorship, but after the death of the General, the event was relaunched and the residents of Tenerife took it upon themselves to highlight the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the comfortable relationship it enjoyed with the fascists. Even today, some paraders dress as naughty nuns or perverted priests. The event ends when the festive fish – a large papier-mâché sardine – is burnt and buried, with fishnet-clad 'widows' weeping in its wake.