The Gran Canaria carnival is a brilliant time on Gran Canaria. It’s a lot of fun and there’s a great atmosphere. Some revellers take part at the very beginning of the carnival, in whichever town it starts, and follow it all over the island from town to town, only stopping when they are totally knackered! The timing of the carnival is flexible and alters each year but once it gets going, it is contagious and the whole island enjoys it. I’ve been to a few and it’s always plenty of fun!
The carnival is the biggest island festival and some people start preparing for it up to a year in advance. This is why there are permanent premises for the amateur carnival bands, carnival dancers, rondallas (carnival bands playing songs without lyrics) and costume makers. The dates and activities are planned a year in advance and the bands and dancers start working on their material.
Wherever you are on the island, you can experience the carnival in the towns, but the best places are Las Palmas, Maspalomas, Agaete, Agüimes and Telde. You can also see stunning firework displays over the sea on the last night in each town.
Literally hundreds of thousands of Canarians dress up and take to the streets, dancing along in the parade to Latin music. Expect to see some wild costumes! Pretty much anything goes and some of the costumes are very detailed and have obviously taken months to put together.
There are other festivals that take place while the carnival is on, such as Burial of the Sardine.
The carnival is opened with a “pregón” – opening speech – full of irony and jokes (if you understand Español that is!) and then there are contests for the best band, dancers, costumes and acts. Two of the best contests to see are the Carnival Queen competition and the Drag Queen competition. The main parade is a lot of fun too – don’t forget your camera!