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    Carnival Gran Canaria

    No other event on the island attracts Canarios, residents and tourists like the carnival does.

    The carnival in Gran Canaria follows the Latin American times, customs and festivities. The planning of the festivities goes from north to south, which means that when the carnival is already celebrated in Las Palmas, there is still time for preparation in the south. Every weekend it’s another region’s turn to celebrate the carnival. That’s good because you aren’t taking away guests from each other, and carnival goers don’t have to choose between going to Las Palmas or Maspalomas to celebrate – you go everywhere.

    The queen of Las Palmas carnival 2019 Erika Echuaca

    In the south of the island in Maspalomas, the carnival takes place on the main stage of the Yumbo Centre. The highlights are definitely the magnificent South American costumes of the dancers and the shows of scantily clad drag queens. All of them compete in front of a jury that choses the best: the best child queen, the best carnival queen, and the most flamboyant drag queen. These Highnesses then lead the carnival parades.

    The drags of Las Palmas carnival 2019 with the queen Chuchi (left)

    The theme for this year’s carnival in Maspalomas (14 March to 24 March) is dedicated to the moon: “Maspamoon” is the title and has its origins in space travel. In 2019, it’s been 50 years since the first human being set foot on the moon. In 1969, NASA had only three satellite stations worldwide to get in touch with the astronauts: Cape Canaveral in Florida, one in Perth in Australia and the satellite station as it still exists today, in Maspalomas in Gran Canaria!

    On the current carnival poster “Moon in the Dunes” you can see the big moon and Apollo XI above the dunes of Maspalomas, and an astronaut flying around the Maspalomas lighthouse (“Faro” in Spanish) on a sardine.

    The big parades (“Cabalgatas”) in Las Palmas (9 March) and Maspalomas (23 March) are broadcasted live on local TV. All carnival parades have their own appeal, even those in the municipalities. Here, the drumming groups lead the way, firing up the parade participants and the crowd with Caribbean and Latin American rhythms, the “Ritmo de Batucada”. Batucada is characterised by its repetitive style and fast rhythm – no leg remains still, everybody claps and gets carried away by the drum beats. Of course, the parade in Las Palmas is the biggest in terms of festivities, participants, floats and the groups on foot. Second biggest is the carnival in Maspalomas, where the happenings in the Yumbo Centre are similarly impressive and the excessive partying is on par with Las Palmas.

    The main stage of the carnival in Las Palmas (15 February to 10 March) is located in the Parque de Santa Catalina. Throughout the carnival season, there are celebrations in this area up to the Las Canteras beach and, of course, intensified celebrating in La Vegueta, the historical old town of Las Palmas.

    The carnival theme of the island’s capital is “One night in Rio”, which was decided in an online poll.

     

    Besides a lot of alcohol, the carnival season before the big parades is characterised by contests or “elections”, most importantly the “gala choice of queen” and the “gala choice of drag queen”, closely followed by choosing the children’s queen and the seniors’ queen.

    Another must in the Canarian carnival are the “Murgas”, groups on foot which are all dressed in uniform and often thematic costumes. They serve as a mouthpiece of the population, singing about local political and other issues in rhymes, and accompanying them with party horns.

    The end of the carnival season in Gran Canaria is marked by a burning fish: the “funeral of the sardine”. A giant, sardine-like fish made of papier-mâché is carried to the beach, accompanied by the moaning, howling and short prayers of the funeral guests, and from there, the burning fish is sent to sea. Afterwards, the period begins, but that doesn’t prevent the funeral guests from continuing celebrations all night. Something must be destroyed in order for something new to emerge, or so the people say.

    The origin of the “funeral of the sardine” isn’t entirely clear, there are countless explanations. As a fish, the sardine could serve as symbol for the Catholic fasting period. Possible is also a malapropism over the centuries, from “cerda” to “sardina” – from pig to sardine. But more important than the historic background are the imagination of the participants and the cheerful celebrations!

     

    The carnival parade in Maspalomas starts on 23 March 2019 at 17:00 in Avd Moya- Avd Madrid and ends in Avd Tui.

    In recent years, it has become increasingly common that the party people don’t join the people on foot but purchase an all-inclusive and not exactly cheap place on one of the moving floats: drinks, snacks, and music with 10.000 watt right into your years, for 80 up to 120. Each to their own…

     

     

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