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What is the culture of Tenerife

Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is known for its enticing beaches, vibrant nightlife, and, of course, its captivating culture. From historical influences to modern customs, the culture of Tenerife is an enchanting tapestry of traditions. But what makes it so special?

Historical Background

Aboriginal Influence

Before Spain’s conquest in the 15th century, Tenerife was inhabited by the Guanches, the aboriginal Berber people. Many Guanche traditions still influence Tenerife’s culture today. From cave paintings to pottery, their mark is visible in the island’s art, and their customs are celebrated in various local festivals.

Spanish Influence

Following the Spanish conquest, Tenerife’s culture underwent significant changes. The Spanish influence is evident in the island’s language, cuisine, and architecture. Yet, the Tenerife culture maintains its distinct flavor, merging these influences with its indigenous roots.

Tenerife’s Festivities

Carnival of Santa Cruz

If there’s a celebration that encapsulates the joyous spirit of Tenerife, it’s the Carnival of Santa Cruz. As the second-largest carnival globally, it’s an explosion of color, music, and dance that rivals Rio’s famed event. This festival showcases Tenerife’s love for life and collective camaraderie.


The Romerias are traditional public processions, paying homage to the island’s patron saints. They reflect Tenerife’s strong Catholic influence and the locals’ fondness for preserving historical customs. Participants often wear typical Canarian costumes, adding to the cultural richness of these events.

Cuisine of Tenerife

Signature Dishes

Tenerife’s cuisine is a mouthwatering blend of Spanish, African, and Latin American influences. Signature dishes like “papas arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) served with “mojo” sauce, and “gofio,” a versatile grain mix, highlight the island’s agricultural richness.

Traditional Drinks

The island also offers unique beverages. Tenerife is known for its locally produced wines, especially the fruity white wines. Additionally, “Barraquito,” an elaborate layered coffee, is a must-try for all coffee enthusiasts.

Art and Music of Tenerife

Folk Music and Dances

Music and dance are integral parts of Tenerife’s culture. Traditional folk music called “Isas” and “Folías” accompanied by dances like “Tajaraste” provide a rhythmic peek into the island’s cultural heart.

Traditional Artforms

The art scene in Tenerife is vibrant and diverse, encompassing various traditional forms like pottery, embroidery, and basket weaving. The island’s art represents its history, its people, and their creative expressions.

Language in Tenerife

Canarian Spanish

While Spanish is the primary language, the unique Canarian accent distinguishes Tenerife’s inhabitants. This accent, influenced by both historical and geographical factors, bears some similarities to Caribbean Spanish due to past emigration patterns.

Unique Tenerife Slang

Tenerife also has a distinct vocabulary, complete with local slang and colloquial phrases. Words like “chacho” and “guagua” are commonplace and add a linguistic charm to the island’s culture.

In essence, the culture of Tenerife is a vibrant mix of history, art, language, and, of course, its people. The island’s traditions have evolved over centuries, creating a unique cultural blend that fascinates every visitor. With every festival, dish, dance, and word spoken, Tenerife extends a warm invitation to explore and appreciate its rich culture.


  1. What is the most important festival in Tenerife? The most significant festival in Tenerife is the Carnival of Santa Cruz, a world-renowned celebration marked by extravagant parades and colorful costumes.
  2. What is traditional Tenerife food like? Tenerife’s traditional food is a fusion of Spanish, African, and Latin American influences, featuring dishes like papas arrugadas and gofio.
  3. Is the Spanish spoken in Tenerife different from mainland Spain? Yes, Tenerife Spanish, also known as Canarian Spanish, has a distinct accent and includes unique local slang.
  4. How has history influenced Tenerife’s culture? Tenerife’s culture has been shaped by its aboriginal Guanche heritage and the Spanish conquest, visible in its traditions, cuisine, and language.
  5. What types of traditional arts are popular in Tenerife? Traditional arts in Tenerife include pottery, basket weaving, and embroidery, among others.
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Joséluis Velázquez

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