Carnaval Las Palmas 2008

The sun, the sea and the beaches are a major reason for people buying investment property in Gran Canaria, but it has so much more to offer including a rich historic legacy of culture, tradition and fun. Barely a month into the new year and it’s time to turn your thoughts to the colour, spectacle and musical excitement that is Las Palmas Carnaval.

This year the theme is Olympia so expect the gods to smile down on all the revellers in their home made costumes. It all starts on January 18 and runs through to February 9, so get your dancing shoes on and prepare to give in to the rythm. As well as the main theme, this year will be a homage to South American salsa sensation Celia Cruz, who died a few years ago. The livewire singer and dancer lives on in some lavish musical numbers that will be performed at Carnaval and her trademark cry of “Azucar” will once again fill the night air.

It’s well worth making the effort with a costume, even if you can only run to a mask and some bright clothes. There are no such thing as spectators at Carnaval, everyone joins in, that rythm is hard to resist. The biggest event of the celebrations is the election of the Carnaval Queen on Janury 25, but there will also be a similar contest for children and a series of parades through the streets. The season comes to a close with the burial of the sardine on February 9, a night of mock mourning and weeping mixed with dancing as the giant papier mache sardine is carried through the streets en route to it’s final point of cremation, amid a cascade of fireworks.

Las Palmas, the capital, is in the north of the island, little more than an hours journey from the main beach resorts of the south, Maspalomas, Playa Mogan and Puerto Rico, to name just a few. All major towns in Gran Canaria will follow the Las Palmas party with their own regional version, each trying to outdo their neighbours with splendour and spectacle. Don’t just stand there, grab a drink and a friend, and have a dance.