The island and provincial capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, starts Carnival season 2019 this Friday, 15th of February, the biggest of all the carnival celebrations on the island, lasting a whole until the 10th of March.

Each year the public take part in an open competition, usually during the preceding summer, to choose a theme on which to base the celebrations for the following end of winter series of events, which together form Carnival. For 2019 the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival is dedicated to “a Night in Rio“: so the Santa Catalina main stage will be turned into an elaborate tribute to the “Carioca Carnival”, and those taking part will be resplendent in a range of amazing costumes which evoke this most famous Brazilian fiesta which has been alive since early colonial times, and may well have been originally modelled on the first Las Palmas carnivals of the 16th century, which many travellers to the new world are likely to have witnessed before their voyage across the ocean.

The first night, February 15th, will see Plaza de Santa Ana host the proclamation speech, the Pregón, declaring the Carnival open: entry is free, and this historic area of the original old quarter suddenly comes to life, with musical groups parading through the streets great ambience in a setting where bars and restaurants all join in with the annual celebration…  this historic area is of outstanding: it is here that the foundations of the city were first laid, in 1478 and where the original genoese merchants who inhabited the early Atlantic City, set up home on the opposite bank of the Guiniguada ravine, to create Triana, the old merchant quarter, where they first celebrated carnival behind the protective city walls.

The first full week of celebration is devoted to group competitions (“murgas” – carnival satire street bands and “comparsas” – carnival dance stage shows) in Parque Santa Catalina, near the Puerto de la Luz which becomes the focus of attention for fans of these hotly disputed competitions; those taking part do so with great passion and explore some of the most burning questions and topics of the day.


Friday 15.2

20:00 Parade to announce the starting of the CarnivalHalf an hour before the official beginning, a street parade will pass from Triana to Vegueta areas, from Cairasco to Santa Ana square. Carnival Parades display all the magic, colour, and joy of these traditional celebrations marking the end of winter and the imminent arrival of Spring…

20:30 Pregón, opening ceremony at Plaza de Santa Ana The official opening of the carnival festivities, a spectacle in which the crowd are both the masters of ceremonies and the protagonists of an event that sets the tone for the rest of the celebrations. Murgas and comparsas and the candidates for Carnival Queen all take part in the opening ceremony. The event is preceded by a parade that livens up the streets with festival batucadas and carnival rhythms.

Saturday 16.2

19:00 Contest of children’s troupesChildren are the future of the Carnival. This contest is some of the evidence. Children put on a broad display of rhythm and choreography, and also add energy and enthusiasm, as they present the acts they have worked on for a whole year. Parque Santa Catalina. Free admission until capacity is reached.

Sunday 17.2

11:00 Childrens’ costume Festival.The stage of Parque Santa Catalina is festooned in lights and colour for a day on which families and kids play the leading role. Ingenuity, fantasy and a great deal of imagination are the ingredients for an event open to all children who have previously enrolled. Free admission until capacity is reached.

20:00 Gala of the Grand DameGrand Dame Gala. All ages are represented on the throne of Carnival, the Grand Dame, or Great Lady, is chosen among the most senior of our citizens to be candidates for the crown. Free admission until capacity is reached. Parque Santa Catalina

Monday 18.2

20:30 Contest of Murgas 1st phaseMurgas (satirical Carnival choir groups) have thousands of followers. Their songs comment ironically and critically on the various social and political events of the year. These groups take part in the festival’s most high-profile events, in the main parade and street bands. The Carnival awards prizes to the best murgas in a competition held on the Parque Santa Catalina stage. Free admission until full capacity. Parque Santa Catalina

Tuesday 19.2

20:30 Contest of Murgas 2nd phase

Wednesday 20.2

20: 30 Murgas Competition 3rd phase

Thursday 21.2

21:00 Adult costume contestThis contest gives the chance to everyone to join to the party to show off on stage in a range of carnival designs. This is one of the funniest events of the program. Free admission until full capacity. Parque Santa Catalina

Friday 22.2

21:00 Contest of adult dance troupesFeathers and sequins to the rhythm of the batucadas are key components of the comparsas night. These groups reflect on stage the essence of the carnival, both with their astonishing high energy routines and their range risqué costumes

Saturday 23.2

12:00 Daytime Carnival in VeguetaFamily Carnival in Vegueta

20:30 Final round of MurgasTicketed event.

Sunday 24.2

12:00 Canine CarnivalOne of the most eagerly awaited events in recent years has been the Canine Carnival, a parade of pet dogs in costume accompanied by their owners, in which the imagination combined with a respect for animals and their wellbeing are the only limits. Free admission until full capacity. Parque Santa Catalina.

15:00 Day Carnival in Santa CatalinaFamily Carnival in Santa Catalina

19:00 Gala Reina InfantilThe children’s queen gala, designed especially for the little ones, includes performances from “comparsas” (carnival dance stage shows), “murgas” (carnival street choir bands) and various groups selected to suit its main mini audience. The selection of the Junior Queen or King is one of the most charming events in the carnival festivities. Free admission until full capacity. Parque Santa Catalina

Friday 1.3

21:00 Gala de la ReinaOne of the most popular images of the Carnival is provided every year by the elaborate designs worn by the candidates for Queen of the carnival. All of the dresses are created by renowned local designers and the quality of the fabrics used and the enormous size of the outfits, their colours and the originality of their designs, mean that this gala is one of the most eagerly awaited nights of the carnival festivities. Parque Santa Catalina. Ticketed event 

22:00 Carnival NightsCarnival Nights mean a meeting with fun and people in costume. From 22:00 – 03:00. Free Concerts and Live Music next to plaza de Canarias, parque de Santa Catalina.

Saturday 2.3

12:00 Daytime Carnival in TrianaThe oldest part of the city resumes the fiesta on Saturday 2nd, with daytime celebrations on Triana’s Calle Mayor in the main and oldest commercial area.

21:00 Preselection for Drag Queen Gala – get a preview of all the would-be contestants for this years Drag Gala –  Free to enter

22:00 Carnival NightsCarnival Nights mean fun and everyone in costume. From 22:00 – 03:00. Free Concerts and Live Music next to plaza de Canarias, parque de Santa Catalina.

Sunday 3.3

12:00 Daytime Carnival in Santa Catalina

Monday 4.3

19:00 Traditional carnivalThe Traditional Carnival in the evening, where everyone dresses in white and throws talcum powder at each other in recollection of the “Indianos”, emigrants who made their fortunes in the new world of the Americas during colonial times before returning home.  This is the traditional celebration in the old town, where carnival first began here in the city, and marks the eve of Shrove Tuesday (pancake day) otherwise known as Mardis Gras (fat tuesday)

21:00 Gala Drag QueenThe Drag Queen Gala is one of the Carnival’s most high-profile events of the annual festivities. There are so many candidates entering the competition, that every year a qualifying stage is held in order to decide which drag queens will take part in the final. One of the most exciting nights on the Parque de Santa Catalina stage sees live entertainment on big ‘platforms’ night. It is Carnival in its purest state. Gender transgression, audacity and a total lack of inhibition are combined on the stage in a display of new expressions. Ticketed event.

22:00 Carnival NightsCarnival Nights mean fun and everyone in costume. From 22:00 – 03:00. Free Concerts and Live Music next to plaza de Canarias, parque de Santa Catalina.

Tuesday 5.3

12:00 Carnival Tuesday. Daytime Carnival in Santa Catalina

If you fancy a February carnival in the sun, come to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to experience one of our biggest days of the year, Mardi Gras is a uniquely exciting celebration with live music, carnival parades, and a lot of rhythm, music and colour from 12.00 to 17.00 in and around Santa Catalina Park.

17:00  Children’s paradeThe kids also go out onto the streets in costume to dance and take part in one of the most popular events for families. The Children’s Parade is presided over by the Junior Queen and includes children’s groups (murgas and comparsas). Route : Castillo de la Luz to Parque Santa Catalina. Followed by a childrens party. 

Thursday 7.3

19:00 Integration GalaThe social integration gala is a great inclusive event which moves and motivates all those who attend it. It is organised by COMPSI (The Regional Coordinating Committee for Disability Resource Centres) and aims to provide an opportunity to express carnival spirit regardless of different abilities. Free admission until full capacity. Parque Santa Catalina

Friday 8.3

21:00 Body makeup contestOne of the most attractive shows of the Carnival. Each display of body art covers the naked skin of contestants with a temporary creation, painted using only an airbrush or a simple brush, that lasts for several hours, time enough to be exhibited with a choreography, music and rhythm on the main stage. Free admission until capacity is reached. Parque Santa Catalina

22:00 Carnival NightsCarnival Nights mean fun and everyone in costume. From 22:00 – 03:00. Free Concerts and Live Music next to plaza de Canarias, parque de Santa Catalina.

Saturday 9.3

18:00 Carnaval de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – Grand ParadeThe city comes to a standstill and surrenders to the power of the masses. Over 200,000 masked revellers and a hundred or so festooned cars and floats accompany the Carnival Queen, the Drag Queen, the Great Lady and the Junior Queen to the rhythms of the music of the butacadas, comparsas and murgas. It is one of the most obvious displays of public participation, freedom, fun and wild abandon. From La Isleta to León y Castillo

22:00 Carnival NightsCarnival Nights mean fun and everyone in costume. From 22:00 – 03:00. Free Concerts and Live Music next to plaza de Canarias, parque de Santa Catalina.

Sunday 9.3

19:00 Burial of the SardineThe popular “Funeral of the Sardine” marks the end of this year’s festivities: the sacred glittering fish, which stays in the custody of the Carnival Queen and Drag Queen in a sombre wake and procession to the Playa de Las Canteras beach, where the figure of the fish is burned in the water.  And everyone bids farewell to a month of debauched celebration to mark the passing of winter

just a few short weeks to go before the arrival of Spring…

On Gran Canaria, it is at this point, the carnival party spirit then spreads to the rest of the island, down to Maspalomas and on to Mogán and throughout every major town until the celebrations finally give way to the flowers and new crops of Springtime…

The Canary Guide

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