When to go to Tenerife

Over six million visitors a year descend on Tenerife and numbers tend to spread themselves fairly evenly over the year with one or two dips and peaks.

Spring – warm and quiet

As the swallows (retired Northern Europeans who overwinter on Tenerife) fly back to their homelands and before the Spanish mainlanders descend for the summer, spring is one of the quietest times to visit Tenerife and the 'land of eternal spring' climate brings pleasantly warm days and nights.

At Easter major towns and cities hold solemn processions. The most evocative is in La Laguna where the Viernes Santo silent procession (April 6, 2012) includes barefoot brotherhoods manacled at the ankles and wrists.

On May 3 every cross on the island is ornately decorated in flowers and in the northern town of Los Realejos the day ends with one of Europe's longest firework displays.

In June the town of La Orotava decorates its town hall square in an intricate tapestry of sand, and the surrounding streets in floral art for Corpus Christi (June 30, 2011). The town becomes a transient work of art and it's worth travelling to Tenerife just to see it.

Midsummer's eve brings bonfires and beach parties all over the island with the biggest on Playa Jardín in Puerto de la Cruz (June 23, 2011 from 6pm onwards) and midsummer's morning sees the bathing of the goats in the town's harbour (June 24, 2011 from 8.30am).

Summer – hot and Spanish

Spanish mainlanders flee to Tenerife to escape the heat of the plains. Hotel prices are lower as the Spanish opt mainly for self catering but ironically flights can be more expensive as demand from the UK switches to the Spanish Costas.

In the resorts of the south and west, visitor numbers are less than in winter and the mix of visitors becomes more cosmopolitan. Days are long and hot but not oppressively so and nights are warm.

In Puerto de la Cruz the arrival of the Spanish brings the town's busiest season. Nightlife becomes more vibrant and the beaches throng with extended families.

July in Puerto de la Cruz brings a whole month of fiestas with the highlight being the Fiesta del Carmen (July 12, 2011) when 30,000 visitors descend on the town to watch the celebrations in honour of their patron saint.

Autumn – winter rains and the swallows return

October brings crystal clear visibility and perfect temperatures with warm days and nights. From late October the British and German swallows begin to return but holidaymaker numbers have yet to peak.

In November the winter rains arrive. Rain can fall in monsoon proportions, often during the night and mainly in the north of the island although the south and west don't escape altogether.

Early December sees one of the island's lulls in visitors and with days remaining warm and sunny, it's a good time to pick up some flights and hotel bargains.

Winter – high season and mild temperatures

Straight after Christmas is when the Northern European holiday season peaks. Flights pour thousands daily into the airports and the beaches throng with white bodies craving their winter dose of sun.

Daytime temperatures remain resolutely in the shorts and T-shirts zone and nights require a sweater.

January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany when Spanish and Canario children receive their presents from the Three Kings and the night before there are parades of the Kings in major towns and resorts.

No sooner has the Christmas wrapping paper been thrown away than the island gets ready for Carnaval. Beginning with its biggest celebrations in Santa Cruz (February 17-25, 2012) and Puerto de la Cruz (February 18-25, 2012), smaller celebrations roll out over the rest of the island over the ensuing weeks. Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz are packed to capacity and extremely boisterous, if it's not your thing, stay clear. If it is, you'll need my guide for how to get the best from Carnaval: Carnaval in Tenerife: it's time to party!.