Maspalomas Carnival takes place in the heart of the Canary Islands in one of Spain’s best beach resorts. There is no better place to enjoy carnival with sun, beaches, wild parties and great weather.
The Canary Islands love carnival and the locals put all their imagination and organisational power into creating a fun event that reflects the creativity of this amazing land. In fact, back in 2017 this celebration was declared a National Tourist Interest.
When is the Maspalomas Carnival 2024?
Maspalomas Carnival is a ten-day celebration that usually takes place in the beginning of the year, usually in March. When is the 2024 Maspalomas Carnival? The 2024 Maspalomas Carnival will take place from March 7 – 17, 2024.
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Where is the Maspalomas Carnival?
Maspalomas is a resort beach town located in the south of Gran Canaria, in Spain’s Canary Islands. Maspalomas is the oldest tourist town in the south of Gran Canaria and is part of the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana.
One of the main tourist spots in Maspalomas is Yumbo Shopping Centre which hosts many of carnival’s most popular events including the Drag Gala and the Carnival Queen Gala. Many other carnival activities like the rescue and Burial of the Sardine take place in Playa del Inglés (The Englishman’s Beach).
If you are not familiar with the Canary Islands, you may be wondering where they are located in relation to Spain’s mainland. The Canary Islands are located South-West of Spain’s mainland and North-West of Africa. Sitting in the Atlantic Ocean they are right in front of Morocco’s coast.
What is the Maspalomas Carnival?
When carnival dies down in the other Canary Island cities, it is only just heating up in Maspalomas. Carnival here is like Rio de Janeiro Carnival being transported to this tiny Spanish Island. This normally laid-back beach town transforms into a huge party that is accompanied by the beat of salsa and batucada tunes.
Maspalomas Carnival is a brilliant blend of colour, tradition, music, costumes, floats, dancing, parties, parades, delicious food and fun. Maspalomas Carnival is known for having some of the best entertainment and parades you could imagine.
Masopalomas Carnival is one of the biggest celebrations in the Canary Islands. Masopalomas is a place that welcomes outsiders, and wants them to come and enjoy their carnival and get carried away in the celebrations. And every year Maspalomas Carnival attracts thousands of international and domestic tourists.
How is the Maspalomas Carnival celebrated?
Maspalomas Carnival is a 10-day carnival celebration that kicks off on a Thursday Night with a Drag Queen pre-selection contest and Inaugural Gala. Candidates gather together after the opening ceremony to compete in one of the most entertaining and popular carnival events. The best contents will be selected for the main gala which will be held later in carnival, and broadcast live on national TV.
Friday will usually see the Senior Carnival Queen Selection. This is another fun carnival event where the elder ladies will compete to win the title of Senior Carnival Queen. This event honors women of substance and kindness that have been of good standing in the local community.
A Children’s Carnival with a parade takes place for the little ones which is an event that the whole family can enjoy. It is also important for the next generation to get excited about carnival. The parade is colorful and filled with amazing costumes and entertainment. The celebrations continue after the parade in the main square and is followed with the election of the Child Carnival Queen.
The Carnival Queen Election Gala usually takes place on the Sunday of carnival. This is such a popular event it is broadcast on national TV. The Carnival Queen Contest is full of glamour and fantasy. The costumes are unbelievable, extravagant costumes, hoping to receive the honor to become the Carnival Queen. There is also the Canine Carnival, where candidates and their cute cuddly buddies show off their original fantasy costumes.
This is usually followed by a Body Painting Competition where bodies are completely painted turning a naked body into a piece of art. The Borderless Gala usually takes place on the Tuesday of carnival and features various famous performers along with 8 local occupational centres around the island.
The Drag Queen Gala generally takes place on Thursday of Carnival and features 14 candidates who compete with incredible costumes and awesome choreography, hoping to obtain the honor for the title of Maspalomas Drag Queen.
Carnival Friday is known as the ‘Day Carnival’ and starts with the ‘Rescue of the Sardine’ an event with batucada music that lets everyone join in the procession as it marches through the town.
Then the “Fiesta del Solajero” or the Sun Fiesta takes place which has 40 performers performing and the ‘Operation Sardine’ takes place.
The music and parties continue on until late and there will also be another event where the winners of all the Queen’s galas are presented to the public. Around 1-pm ‘Salsa Night’ will start which sees different dance schools around the island put on amazing performances and this will close with a party from midnight.
The Grand Carnival Parade will take place on Saturday, kicking off in the afternoon. This parade is filled with the most epic costumes, floats and performances and is broadcast live on national TB. It ends with a big street party that has loads of DJs.
Carnival usually finishes on Sunday with the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ which is a procession that winds through the town and towards the beach, accompanied by a big fireworks show which officially closes the carnival.
Maspalomas Carnival Events
- Maspalomas Carnival Opening Night
- Pre-selection of the Drag Queen
- Senior Carnival Queen Selection
- Street Parties
- Maspalomas Children’s Carnival
- The Children Carnival Queen Election
- Carnival Queen Election
- The Canine Carnival Contest
- Body Painting Competition
- The Borderless Gala
- Tropical Party
- Body Paint Contest
- Carnival Drag Queen Election
- Mogollon Street Party
- Rescue of the Sardine
- Sunny Day Party
- Tourist Show
- Salsa Night
- Maspalomas Carnival Parade
- Burial of the Sardine
There are lots of incredible events and parties occurring during Carnival and these are the most popular events.
Carnival Queen Gala’s –Queen, Infant Queen and Great Lady
There are several galas that elect different Carnival Queens. The Senior Carnival Queen, Infant Carnival Queen and Carnival Queen. These galas are a highlight of carnival. The Carnival Queen is always crowned from an array of candidates who wear striking, large and stunning costumes.
Drag Queen Gala
This is a fun and popular tradition that began back in the 80s and has continued to grow bigger and more over the top glamorous every year. 14 candidates compete with incredible costumes and choreography, with the best male drag artist winning the honor of Drag Carnival Queen.
The Rescue of the Sardine
This is one of the funnier events at carnival that features some over the top performances. We don’t know why but for some reason a sardine is an icon of Maspalomas Carnival. This event sees a group of ‘doctors and nurses’ carrying a dying Sardine, to try and rescue it. The procession is humorous and fun, pumping out the batucada music. Tourists and residents are both invited to join in the procession.
The Great Parade
The Parade is the absolute highlight of carnival and attracts a hundred thousand people. It is a big parade with over 100 floats and goes on for hours.
The parade shows off the creativity and humor of the locals with the most original costumes and performances. In fact, it is such a spectacle that it is broadcast on national TV. The parade finishes with a massive dance street party that goes into the early morning, with various DJs performing.
Burial of the Sardine
The Carnival of Maspalomas ends with the Burial of the Sardine – Entierro de la Sardina. This is a comic performance where a funeral procession is held for the iconic Sardine. A procession takes place through the streets of Maspalomas where ‘mourners’ are dressed in black and ‘mourn’ the sardine.
The procession finishes at the beach where a Testament of the Carnival Sarine is read. This testament contains funny comments about local news and events which are full of irony and humor. The sardine is then burned to officially close carnival. This is followed by an epic fireworks display.
Maspalomas Carnival Parade Route
The Great Carnival Parade route runs over several kilometers through Maspalomas and Play de Ingles. The route is generally the same every year. It usually starts from the main entrance road to Playa del Inglés and will make its way through Avenida Italia, Avenida de Gran Canaria and end at the Yumbo.
The Burial of the Sardine procession leaves from the Avenida de España and travels down Alféreces Provisionales towards the direction of Playa del Inglés Anexo II.
Origins of the Maspalomas Carnival
What is the history of Maspalomas Carnival? Carnival is one of the oldest celebrations in the world dating back over a thousand years. It began as a pagan celebration which was later given Christian meanings by the Catholic Church. Carnival was the last chance to celebrate prior to the start of Lent, 40 days of fasting and abstinence.
Maspalomas Carnival began to grow bigger and bigger in the 1980s. New traditions were introduced to carnival like the mogollones (large improvised street parties). The first Miss Travestikarnatival Election Gala took place in 1986, known today as the famous Drag Queen Gala. Throughout the 1990s Maspalomas Carnival grew into an even larger and more modern carnival celebration.
How to get to Maspalomas?
There are a few options to travel to Maspalomas for carnival and these are:
- Flying: You can fly into the Gran Canaria Airport. The airport receives flights from Madrid (2.5hrs), Barcelona (3hrs) and Bilbao (3hrs). Flights from the UK take around 4 hours. It also has flights to a few other destinations in Europe.
- Ferry: The Port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria receives boats from all over the world and other Canary Island destinations including Africa, Europe and America. Acciona Transmediterránea operates a boat to and from Cádiz on the Spanish mainland, which takes 2 days. Naviera Armas operates to and from Madeira, Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Portugal and several other islands.
Where to stay in Maspalomas?
It’s also very important that you book your accommodation as early as possible because it gets booked up very quickly!
Maspalomas is a beach resort town so it has plenty of accommodation options to suit a wide range of budgets and levels of comfort.
Here are some accommodation options that are close to the Maspalomas Carnival:
- 5* – Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia – Gran Lujo | Seaside Palm Beach | Hotel Faro, a Lopesan Collection Hotel
- 4* Seven Hotel & Wellness – Gay Men Only | Club Maspalomas Suites & Spa – Adults Only | HL Suite Nardos – Only Adults
- 3* – Canary Garden Club | Palm Oasis Maspalomas | FBC Fortuny Resort – Adults Only
- 2* Club Vista Serena | Bungalows Campo Golf
Check out some great accommodation deals in Maspalomas here.
You don’t have to stay in Maspalomas, there are hundreds of accommodation options in the rest of the island. Check out some great accommodation deals in Gran Canaria here.
Is Masopalomas Carnival safe?
Yes! This is a very safe place to visit! Not only is there very low crime here but you will also find very open, friendly and welcoming locals.
What to do and see in Maspalomas Carnival?
Maspalomas is an incredible beach resort that has plenty of things to do and see. For instance, there are lots of amazing water sports like paragliding, snorkeling or swimming in the ocean. You can also get lost in the famous sand dunes.
Gran Canaria also has one of the best climates in the world with 300 days of sunshine a year and mild temperatures that mean that winter is not too cold and summer is not too hot!
There are some great tours and activities to enjoy in Maspalomas that you can check out here. Here are some of the best local activities that the island has to offer:
- Camel Ride in the Dunes of Maspalomas
- Horse Riding Excursion
- Half-Day Luxury Catamaran Cruise with Food
- Snorkeling Trip
- Maspalomas Self-Guided E-Scooter Tour
- Tickets for Aqualand Maspalomas
- Maspalomas Ayagaures Hills E-Bike Tour and Tapas Tasting
- Maspalomas Segway Tour with Sunset over Sand Dunes
What to eat in Maspalomas?
The culinary experiences that you can enjoy in Maspalomas are another great reason to visit this destination. Visitors will find an ample selection of both local and international options to try. Some of the typical dishes are:
- Grilled cheese with mojo: a semi-cured cheese slice cooked until a crust is formed and topped with a local green mojo (sauce) that you’ll enjoy from the first bite.
- Black pork: a dish that not only stands out for being made with this pig breed typical of the island, but also for its preparation, which involves traditional marinades that can only be found in traditional Canarian recipes.
- Lapas (limpets): a local dish that seafood lovers will certainly enjoy. Basically, lapas are snails grilled with green mojo, offering a juicy and tasty bite right from the start.