Gran Canaria Carnival
Carnival on Gran Canaria
Celebrate carnival on Gran Canaria!
After months of preparation, around February/March, Gran Canaria is ready to welcome the time in the year everybody has been longing for, Carnival. The climate conditions, sunshine and therefore friendly temperatures, make it good for 3 weeks of laughing, dancing and celebrating all across the island.
This tradition, which hand back to the 16th century, was often prohibited. Neither King Carlos I nor General Franco wanted to hear about public satirical speeches or singings. The official prohibition, stated by King Carlos I on 1523, lasted almost 200 years until Felipe V abolished it. When General Franco died on 1975, this prohibition lost its validness, so that we can today party free and cheerfully.
A special event beside the election of the carnival-queen, the election of the children’s carnival-queen and the seniors carnival-queen, is the election of the "Drag-Queen". This exceptional show has gained popularity a lot throughout the last years. However there was a ‘special’ prohibition in the 18th century in which people were not allowed to dress like the other sexes. This gala is now days nearly as important as the election of the carnival-queen and could not be dismissed from Gran Canarias’ carnival.
Just like the "Drag-Queen", the carnival queen has also a gorgeous costume, which can weight about 60 Kg, usually carried by them on a frame. The impressive headdress couldn’t be worn without a support either, since it can reach a height of 3 meters. The queens dress is not only heavy but also very expensive, since this fantastic handmade and unique creations can cost easily a few thousand euro.
A lot of floats with their respective groups of people participate at the "Cosos" (parades), held in all big towns, where the most spectacular ones are those in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and in Maspalomas.
After months of hard work it’s time to enjoy the splendor of their floats to the sound of latin-american music in this parades.
In Las Palmas floats, "murgas" (singing groups), "comparsas" (dance groups) and other costumed people parade through the city along about 7 kilometers. This event is always seen and visited by many other people, usually costumed too, who party along with the parade.
What ist a murga? A "Murga" (spelled:"moorgah") is a group of, normally 15 or more, people who dress up usually all the same and perform on the stage singing acid and critic lyrics dealing with politics as well as problems of todays society with a lot of humor and irony.Normally the songs are performed on popular songs, but with their own lyrics, just accompained with percussion and every members kazoo.
The three phases of the "Murgas" contest every year takes place at the "Santa Catalina" park in Las Palmas. The finals of this contest are normally held with free entrance at the "Santa Catalina" park. This contest is very popular on the canary islands and due to their acid humor and irony always something to laugh about, since normally if they don't sing about politics in general (Spain-wide) "Murgas" from Las Palmas mock Tenerife and viceversa.
The bodypainting-contest, where models are painted to pieces of art, is also worth to mention. There are no boundaries set to the imagination for the motifs and colours.
In other towns there are “who’s-got-the-best-carnival-decoration-constests”, held among the towns stores. Very funny for the ones who decorate as well as for the viewers.
The yearly changing motto of Gran Canarias’ carnival has often been multicultural which has given variety to it. One year we even were visited by carnival groups from Peru and Bolivia. Artist Alberto Trujillo is in charge of the decoration of the “Santa Catalina" park since 1995, where every year on carnival days you can delight in the beauty of the sculptures and scenarios built by this man and his crew.
But the carnival days have to come to an end and this is celebrated on Gran Canaria with the "Entierro de la Sardina" (the sardines’ burial). This custom is mentioned in the chronicle of Agaete in the 1940ies for the first time.
At the end of carnival it's time said goodbye to their carnival fests burning the typical huge sardine, made out of wire and paperpaste. Normally during the "sardines' burying" all the participants in this parade dress like widows spending the entire parade crying out loudly.
A huge paper-paste sardine is lead to its cremation in a funny funeral procession were at the end it is burnt by the ‘widows’. After that there is a huge display of fireworks and people again party to the early morning.
This is the canarian typical way of ending the carnival festivities and every city that has a carnival parade has this "burying" and is pretty funny.
If you have the oportunity to see this, I recommend it to you!