The Royal City of The Palms, Spain’s first significant colonial Atlantic settlement, Real Ciudad de Las Palmas, has celebrated Carnaval at this time of year since the 15th century, when early merchant settlers Genoese and Venetian origins first brought their traditional and transgressive pre-lent masqued street fiesta to the island which made it as much a part of its makeup as gofio, bananas and rum.
The Las Palmas Carnival this year is themed Magic and Fantastic creatures. The festivities started last weekend (26 January) and carry on over the next three weekends until 18 February.
As has now become tradition, the official start of the festivities are centered around the historic Plaza de Santa Ana, by the main cathedral, with a parade that leaves from Plaza de Cairasco in the direction of the old quarter, Vegueta, to summon the mascaritas and present them to the proclamation announcer. This proclamation, known as the Pregón, is every year delivered by a personality of note and sets the tone for the rest of the festivities as the main opening ceremony, a scene that is repeated on the local level across the island as each municipality celebrates its own reflections on the events of the preceding year. The Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria takes to the streets of the historic centre of the original city of Real Las Palmas.
Mascaritas, murgas (satirical song troupes) and comparsas (tropical dance groups), candidates for Queens, Drags, and the various traditional characters of the carnival all meet in Vegueta to celebrate another year’s festival of transgression and freedom to mark the end of winter and the coming spring.
Most evenings begin with a colourful show followed by late night drinking and partying until the early hours.
Last Saturday the modern carnival’s main stage in Parque de Santa Catalina opened to host the children’s dance troupes. Carnival feeling is experienced from a very young age and is probably the main event of the annual calendar.
The weekend continued with a Children’s costume festival filled with light and colour on a day during which families and their children are made the protagonists. Ingenuity, fantasy and a good handful of imagination are the ingredients of these first celebrations, followed by the election of this year’s Gran Dame on stage in a gala event where The Grand Dame is chosen from among carefully selected ladies of island society, matriarchs, grand mothers, and female achievers renowned for their endeavours, tenacity and flair.
All this week the Murga competitions have started their progress through various heats in a competition of wits and musical talent, warming the carnival audiences with their comedy and colour as they sharply critique the different social and political events that have happened throughout the year, entertaining irreverently through irony and satire to tease the authorities and act as a musical voice of the people, encouraging ever more bold steps outside the normal order of things.
*** Due to the weather conditions, many events have been postponed and rescheduled. Please check the latest program here ***
Tonight, thursday 1 February
the Adults costume contest is presented on stage in Parque Santa Catalina. The adult mascaritas have the opportunity to display their fantasies on the carnival stage. Participants compete as either groups or individuals, and will be selected to win different prizes in one of the funniest contests of all the carnival parties.
Friday 2 February
at 21:00: Adult Comparsa dance group contests will be on stage in Parque Santa Catalina. Feathers and sequins to the rhythm of the batucadas, a contagious mixture of african rhythms and samba flair. These groups reflect the essence of Carnival both for the spectacular nature of their costumes, the choreographies and for their relationship with music, rhythm and dance. Free entry until seats full
Saturday 3 February
at 12:00 Children’s Carnival party in Plaza de Santa Ana
at 12:00 Daytime Carnival in Vegueta. Carnival will dress the streets and squares of the historic district on Saturday morning. Obispo Codina, Calvo Sotelo, Pelota and Mendizábal streets and Mesa de León square will be filled with mascaritas around the sixth edition of this festival event.
at 20:30 Murgas contest – Final on stage in Parque Santa Catalina
Sunday 4 February :
at 12:00 The Canine Carnival on stage on Parque Santa Catalina with dogs and owners dressed to impress. Free entry until seats full
at 13:00 Daytime Carnival in Santa Catalina by Clipper. The first carnival day for families in the nerve centre of the party district.
at 18:30 Children’s Queen Gala on stage in Parque Santa Catalina. Free entry until seats full
The children are the protagonists of the children’s Carnival parties that will take place in local neighbourhood squares and parks around the city
Monday 5 February : Children’s Carnival party in La Mayordomía starting at 18:00 Parque de La Mayordomía
Tuesday 6 February : Children’s Carnival party in Schamann starting at 18:00 Plaza de Don Benito
Wednesday 7 February : Children’s Carnival party in La Isleta starting at 18:00 Plaza del Pueblo
Friday 9 February
at 21:00 Carnival Queen Gala on stage in Parque Santa Catalina ( a ticket only event )
at 22:00 Carnival night. The Carnival nights are the meeting point for the fun of the mascaritas. Plaza de Canarias – at the back of the Santa Catalina park – takes on new life after daytime acts.
Saturday 10 February
at 17:00 Carnival to the Sun. Paseo de Las Canteras is filled with colour, rhythm and fantasy to the rhythm of Carnival groups.
at 21:00 Drag Queen Pre-selection on stage in Parque Santa Catalina ( ticket only )
at 22:00 Carnival night. The Carnival nights are the meeting point for the fun of the mascaritas. Plaza de Canarias – back of the Santa Catalina park – takes on new life after daytime.
All events have been updated from 12th of February and onwards
Monday 12 February
at 19:00 Traditional Carnival Monday. The Barranco del Guiniguada, between the Pérez Galdós Theater and the confluence of Muro and Obispo Codina streets, hosts the traditional Carnival celebration. Bands and orchestras will animate the night of the carnival participants who come there on the eve of the festive day of the Carnival Tuesday. Dress in white !!!
at 21:00 Drag Queen Gala ( with ticket only )
at 22:00 Carnival night. The Carnival nights continue as the meeting point for the fun of the mascaritas, everybody dressed to impress in costume. Plaza de Canarias – the back of the Santa Catalina park – takes on new life after daytime acts.
Tuesday 13 February, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi gras, Martes de Carnaval
at 12:00 Daytime Carnival in Parque Santa Catalina. A Big party and live music in the surroundings of Santa Catalina Park.
at 17:00 Children’s parade. The youngest in the city also go out into the street dressed as dancers and participate in one of the most popular acts among families. The Children’s Cavalcade is presided over by the Queen of the boys and girls and the children’s groups (murgas and comparsas) participate in addition to witnessing the prizes given in the costume contest and all those who want to accompany the floats dancing to the Santa Catalina Park.
at 21:00 Body painting contest on stage in Parque Santa Catalina. One of the most attractive acts of Carnival. The professionals paint on human canvases authentic works of art that will be exhibited with a staging in which choreography, music and rhythm are carefully chosen. The fusion between the art of makeup and the show fill the stage of the Santa Catalina park with magic on a night when mythical allegories and other fantasies are added to dream themes. Free entry until seats full
Wednesday 14 February
at 18:00 Day time carnival in Parque de La Mayordomía, Tamareceite,
at 20:00 Murgas 3rd phase on stage in Parque Santa Catalina
Thursday 15 February
at 18:00 Children’s Carnival in Plaza de Don Benito, Schamann.
at 19:00 integration Gala on stage in Parque Santa Catalina. This gala is a heart warming act of solidarity, bringing carnival to all. Organized by the Provincial Coordinator of Occupational Centers (COMPSI), it aims to offer people with disabilities an opportunity to express the carnival feeling. Free entry until seats full
Friday, 16 February
at 18:00 Childrens carnival fiesta in Plaza del Pueblo, La Isleta
at 21:00 Murgas final in Parque Santa Catalina
at 22:00 Carnival night. Carnival nights continue as the meeting point for the fun of the mascaritas. Plaza de Canarias – back of the Santa Catalina park – takes on new life after daytime acts.
Saturday 17 February
at 17:00 the Grand Parade
The Grand Parade is one of the most attended events with maximum citizen participation. In 2017, 160,000 becostumed mascaritas and more than a hundred floats accompanied the elected Carnival Queen, Drag Queen, Great Dame and all the groups.
Parade Route: León y Castillo (at the height of the Plaza de la Feria) – Plaza de Manuel Becerra
at 22:00 Carnival night. Carnival nights Plaza de Canarias – back of the Santa Catalina park – takes on new life after daytime acts.
The burial of the sardine puts an end to the Carnival for another year. The Sardine expires and, each year, carnival widows and mourners accompany the funeral procession that leads through the streets from Leon y Castillo (at the height of Pueblo Canario) to Las Canteras beach.
There, still resisting having to leave the party, the mascaritas give their last goodbye to the “clupeido” in a symbolic burning which represents purification after the weeks of debauched transgressions that are at the heart of CARNVAL!.