Channelling a true Carnaval spirit of exuberance and mayhem, Santa Cruz' own Carnaval is a nonstop, 24-hour party-orgy. Festivities generally kick off in early February and last about three weeks. Many of the gala performances and fancy-dress competitions take place in the Recinto Ferial (fairgrounds) but the streets, especially around Plaza España, become frenzied with good-natured dusk-to-dawn frivolity.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a sequin-bedecked excuse to party hearty, though. It may sometimes be hard to see or believe, but there is an underlying political ‘message’ to the whole shebang. Under the Franco dictatorship, Carnaval ground to a halt and there didn’t seem to be too much to celebrate. The Catholic Church’s relationship with the fascists was another source of frustration so, when Carnaval was relaunched after the death of General Franco, the citizens of Santa Cruz wasted no time in lampooning the perceived sexual and moral hypocrisy of the church and the fascists. Today, you will still see a lot of people dressed for the event as naughty nuns and perverted priests, and more drag queens than bumblebees in a buttercup field. And all in the name of good, clean fun. Book your accommodation ahead – if you intend to go to bed, that is.