You can expect an unforgettable time if you’re heading over to Tenerife this Easter, as the island celebrates this important religious event in spectacular style! Known as Semana Santa, or ‘Holy Week’ to the locals, the days of Easter are filled with processions and parades, and the best part is that you don’t have to be a Tenerife resident to get involved.
The Easter celebrations on Tenerife kicked off in February with the Mardi Gras Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which is the second-biggest Carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, which also happens to be Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s twin city. As always the Mardi Gras was a colourful, noisy and super-glitzy affair, but once the parades had packed up and the last bit of confetti swept from the ground the locals of the island turned their thoughts towards Holy Week, which takes place seven weeks later.
In comparison to the Carnival, Semana Santa is a rather solemn affair, but visually just as stunning as enormous and ornate religious sculptures are paraded through the main streets of the island’s largest cities, especially La Laguna, and draw thousands of onlookers. Holy Week lasts for seven days on Tenerife, which is largely Catholic, and processions usually take place every day.
An Unforgettable Spectacle
To the unfamiliar Tenerife’s beautiful religious processions can be rather bewildering as in addition to the sculptures, crowds of people called ‘penitents’ walk behind the procession wearing long hooded shrouds with only their eyes showing, and are also followed by ‘Nazarenos’ who walk barefoot, wearing shackles and dragging large wooden crosses. It’s clear to see who the Nazarenos represent, but if you choose to observe these processions on Tenerife be respectful, as it’s an emotional time for the deeply religious locals. In fact, it’s not uncommon for pious spectators to cry out or moan as the parades pass by.
However, Holy Week on Tenerife isn’t entirely earnest as it’s a time when all of the residents come together, and spirits are always high outside of the parades. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the traditional Easter food on Tenerife too, particularly Pescado Salado, or salted fish, which is most popular on Good Friday as Catholicism dictates that no meat can be eaten on this day. You’ll see whole families eating together in Tenerife’s restaurants during Holy Week, which is a tradition we can all enjoy, but don’t forget to book early as the best restaurants soon get full!