The Carnival blossoms in the summer

For the first time, the most popular festivity in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria takes to the streets in the summer season, with three days of intense celebrations, concerts and parades 

 
 
 

The Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival is unstoppable: it has withstood the toughest years of the pandemic, restrictions on capacity and on popular events, and the most unexpected obstacles. Now it is returning to the street. The city’s most popular mass event, a Festival of National Tourist Interest (with an ambition to be declared of International Tourist Interest), will put on its most joyful and uninhibited face in July: on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd the festivities return to the realm of the carnival-goers themselves: in other words, celebrations with the public in costume, in the open air, on the main thoroughfares of the capital of Gran Canaria.

This is the first time that the Carnival has taken place in the summer. It has never happened before, but the health crisis has made it possible. In the latest Carnival, held this winter, in 2022, the festival’s galas and contests were organised in Santa Catalina Park, with the theme of the “Planet Earth Carnival”. There the Carnival Queen, the Drag Queen, the best murgas and comparsas, the Grande Dame and the Junior Queen  were chosen. There were also chirimurgas, events for the youngest participants and even a farewell gala… at which this historic event was already announced.

Parade of Carnival Prizewinners and Groups

So it was that in February, the Summer Carnival was proclaimed. Friday 1 July will be the first summer carnival day in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Castillo de La Luz (Castle of Light) is an iconic fortress from which the city defended itself from the attacks of privateers (such as Sir Francis Drake), and is also the current headquarters of the Martín Chirino Foundation for Art and Thought (named after the world-famous sculptor born in the city): from there, in the La Isleta district (the cradle of the Carnival), the Parade of Carnival Prizewinners and Groups will set off at 7.00 pm. It will include the Carnival Queen, Daniela Medina, and the 2022 Carnival Drag Queen, Drag Vulcano. The parade will reach as far as the renovated shopping centre opened in Avenida Mesa y López, not very far from Santa Catalina Park.

And there, the “Planet Earth Carnival”, with a firmly conservationist spirit in its setting, will continue its unique summer session with a musical party at various points of the city: first with DJs, from 9.30 pm, in the Plaza de España, then with the Latin Carnival, in a striking tribute to Celia Cruz and Juan Luis Guerra, from 10.00 pm on the stage of the Estadio Insular: it should not be forgotten that Las Palmas has a long tradition of affection for salsa and Latin rhythms. And it usually lives up to it.

 

Grand Cavalcade

On Saturday 2 July the city will once again have its Grand Carnival Cavalcade, which will also start from the Castillo de la Luz, this time at 5.00 pm. It will be a long and lively festive journey, with the floats taking pride of place, till they reach San Telmo Park. Every year the cavalcade is the most intense event of the Street Carnival. Except that this time it will be enjoyed in the summer.

 

Four stages

On Sunday 3 July the batucada drummers will be marching along the ramblas of Mesa and López from 12.00 noon, accompanied by the colourful comparsas, an essential part of the festivities. And from 1.00 to 8.00 pm the Daytime Carnival will occupy as many as four stages spread around the Port area of the city: in the Plaza de España, the Park of the former Estadio Insular (closer to Las Alcaravaneras beach), Santa Catalina Park (the main stage and heart of the Carnival) and the Plaza de la Música, by the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, right in the prime surfing area of Las Canteras beach.

Lots of music, in different formats and styles, will provide the soundtrack for this festival, more special that ever in the city: because of the dates and a programme that showcases different locations in the city centre.

 

Sardine's Funeral

Finally, the Carnival will say farewell until 2023. This time for real. And it will do so with the traditional Burial of the Sardine, a parade in which widows and mourners will accompany the fish from Santa Catalina Park to Las Canteras, where it will be burnt in the sea, with an invariably eye-catching firework display, on the same beach where the city’s 544th anniversary was celebrated just a few days ago, on St John’s Eve, also with spectacular fireworks. Never before have the two evenings been so close together in the calendar. Never before has the Carnival so powerfully demonstrated its resilience.