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Explosion of Colour at Carnival on Gran Canaria

With its five centuries of history, the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a must-visit event for all enthusiasts of this festivity, when the streets in the capital of this fantastic Canary island are inundated with music, entertainment, colour, masks and other festival costumes. Its origins go back to the time of the island’s conquest, when its population included a large number of Genoese, who were instrumental in introducing the festivity – it is assumed to have been a highly italianised celebration during that period. The magnificent climate, the proximity of the beach and the friendly demeanour of the people meant that Carnival was here to stay. It has now grown into one of the most popular Carnival celebrations in the world.

Those of you wishing to experience for yourselves this year’s Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria should head for the island between 10 February and 5 March, when most of the scheduled activities take place during the lengthy festivity. The list of things to see and do is endless, but the crowning moments include the Gala de la Reina (the Queen’s Gala), the Carnaval al Sol (Carnival in the Sun), held at Las Canteras, the shortlisting and election of the Drag Queen at the Drag Queen Gala, the Traditional Carnival at Vegueta, the Carnaval de Día (Day Carnival) in Santa Catalina and the Cabalgata Infantil (Children’s Horse Parade). Spoiled for choice?

The nerve centre of Carnival is located in Santa Catalina Park, where the highlights of the festivities are staged. Local streets and establishments fill up with people dressed in striking costumes, ready to express themselves to the full.

Every year has a central theme for the festival, and this year it is The Eternal Spring, which is supposed to inspire the costume design of both locals and festival-goers from everywhere, all intent on coming to enjoy the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Here, you would be hard pressed to see anyone not concealed behind a mask, wig or fancy dress of some kind – you have been warned.

Your Carnival experience will often be accompanied by the sound of murgas –similar to the chirigotas of Cádiz – with ensembles chanting songs set to satirical lyrics poking fun at the political and social status quo, in addition to comparsas or carnival troupes dancing to the beat of batucadas (percussion groups). Be sure to let yourself get carried away by the rhythm!

Any festivity worth its salt also has a culinary facet, and the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is no exception. Be sure to taste the tortitas de carnaval (carnival flapjacks), sopas de miel(a bread pudding) and pan dulce (sweet bread), all designed to restore your energy after so much revelry and upheaval.

Time for a Breather

If you’re lucky enough to be able to spend so many days that you end up getting worn out from so much cavorting to the Carnival beat, fear not. Gran Canaria is an island laden with secluded spots where you can wander about far from the everyday bustle. You can take the opportunity to sunbathe and have a dip at Maspalomas beach, or that of El Inglés, marvel at the natural spectacle provided by the blowhole known as the Bufadero de la Garita, or head for Tejeda and its stunning lunar landscape, presided over by the formidable Roque Nublo.

Pick up your fancy dress and get ready to delight in the Carnival of Gran Canaria – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video