Carnival has a date with its Queen in La Isleta

➢ Carnival once more chooses its monarch in the neighbourhood which held the first modern Carnival gala, 48 years ago

➢ The Carnival Queen Gala heralds a long weekend of celebrations which end with Carnival Tuesday, the day of the Children’s Parade

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Monday, 5 February, 2024. It was in March 1976, so long ago now. At that time, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, like the entire country, was living through times of social and political uncertainty. Only a few months earlier, the dictator Francisco Franco had died, and there was still a way to go in the democratic process which would give the people back their civil liberties. One of those liberties, forbidden up until then, was the right to celebrate Carnival; this had carried on in secret in the city under the alias of the Winter Fiestas, and in one neighbourhood, La Isleta (between the Port and the Canteras Beach) there was always a clandestine celebration. Until the moment in that turbulent winter when the people there claimed back their Carnival, their parade… and their Carnival Queen Gala.

And they managed it, that day, in the park beside La Luz Castle, which today houses the Martín Chiniro Foundation for Art and Thought, and five centuries ago was the bastion of the city’s defence against pirate attacks such as that of Francis Drake. A young girl from the town of Arucas, Rosa Delia González, was the winner of a contest with five candidates, which opened the door to a long history of Carnival galas in the Gran Canaria capital.

Since then, the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival Queen Gala has been celebrated as the great iconic event on the programme of festivities. And this will happen once again this Friday, 9 February (21:30) in La Isleta! Because in 2024 the festivities are returning to where they started, at least if we’re talking about the city’s modern Carnival. This time, 13 candidates will compete for a throne which the designers of their characteristic costumes long for. Impossible spectacular dresses which are the watchword for the celebrations.

The selection of the Queen of “Carnivals of the World”, which is the theme running through the fiestas this year, is the gateway to nothing less than a huge Carnival weekend in the city, with the epicentre in La Isleta. To start with, on that very Friday, after the crowning, it’s “Carnival Night” (from 23.30 onwards), in no fewer than three locations (the main space and two more in the surrounding neighbourhood) and there will be different musical shows.

The same formula as in La Isleta, with different performers, will be repeated on Saturday, 10 February (from 20:00), although the party won’t stop in the meantime in the city. At 12:00 (midday) on Saturday 10 February, the Grand Parade of Carnival Groups will leave from Doramas Park and Calle Pío XII, in the central neighbourhood of Ciudad Jardín, and head for the Central Market, within the Alcaravaneras neighbourhood; participating in the Procession will be the traditional Carnival characters, the different groups (Murgas and Comparsas), the Children’s Queen, the Grand Dame and the Queen and the 13 finalists of the Drag Queen Gala programmed for 16 February. In the period between the parade and night-time, La Isleta will continue to vibrate with a Daytime Carnival from 16:00 onwards with children’s Murgas, Comparsas and other musical performances.

On Sunday 11 February, family audiences have their multitudinous date as always with the children’s choreographic encounter, on the main stage of La Isleta, when numerous groups of children present their Carnival routines, along with their costumes. This is the day’s big feature, from 11:00 onwards. On the following day, with Carnival Monday in full swing, there are new invitations to watch concerts, from 19:00 onwards, on two stages. Among these, the main stage is the setting for a presentation of the options in the running to be the theme for the 2025 Carnival. The theme chosen will be announced after the Burial of the Sardine on 18 February.

Lastly, Carnival Tuesday is the great day for families and the younger members of the public, with the Children’s Parade programmed at 11:00, and a Carnival Tuesday which, from 15:00 onwards in La Isleta and on various stages, will be the setting for musical and festive offerings for audiences of all ages.