Gran Canaria Carnaval
Carnaval is one of the most exciting times of the year on Gran Canaria - a party that starts in February, and which goes on for around six weeks across the island.
The Las Palmas Carnaval is one of the world's biggest, rivalling Rio in its scale and colour.
Each year a huge outdoor stage - with seating for several thousand spectators - is built in the Parque Santa Catalina, and this is the setting for a series of contests to choose the Carnaval Queens and the best dance troupes for the cabalgatas or processions.
It's a time when the whole community gets out on the streets to party, and if you are in Playa del Ingles during carnaval, at night you'll find you are often surrounded by hundreds of people wearing fancy dress.
And Carnaval wouldn't be Carnaval without drag queens....drag is an integral part of the whole event, with an appeal that is much broader than just the gay community; in fact, tickets for the Las Palmas Drag Queen Gala reportedly sell faster than for any other carnaval event.
In Las Palmas and Maspalomas, these are huge events, frequently televised live, with international stars taking part in the galas (Bonnie Tyler, Baccara and Village People are some recent performers, as well as Spanish and Latino stars). And the fancy-dress street parties which follow are legendary.
The Centro Comercial Yumbo is the location for the big carnaval galas in Maspalomas. There's usually a major Hollywood star among the judges - Bo Derek and Ursula Andress have both been guests in recent years.
The costumes for the carnaval queens are huge, and take months to make. They frequently cost in excess of 25,000€ and contestants are reliant on sponsorship.
Costumes for the drag queen gala are equally spectacular, but always make a feature of giant platform shoes. Contestants have to prove that they can dance in them!
And it's not just in Las Palmas and Maspalomas that carnaval is celebrated; all the big towns across Gran Canaria stage their own events.
Carnaval ends with a procession to burn and bury a large papier mache sardine. It's accompanied by "widows" in black drag....
If you've never been to Gran Canaria for Carnaval, we guarantee you'll be amazed by the scale of the events and sheer exuberance of it all!
The second largest carnival in the world after Brasil takes place each year up in the north of the island in the capital city of Las Palmas. It lasts for around 3 weeks with events most days for everyone from kids to grandparents. All sorts of competitions, shows, street parties..
The main week-end around the middle of those dates starts with the Friday & the Drag Queen competition which is the biggest evening of the entire 3 weeks of carnival. This is followed by all-night street parties (tens of thousands of revellers of all ages). The day after (Saturday) is the Big Parade with a route 6km long and the carnival procession lasting around 8 hours. After that, more all night street parties.
Another highlight of the carnival is the strange tradition here that all the straight guys, now matter how cute and macho they are (and they are!!!) dress up as girls (naughty nurses, tarts etc...) whilst the girls dress up as guys.