Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Parade of the Three Wise Men) – January 5th
This is one of the most popular traditions related to Christmas time. On the eve of Epiphany, the 'Three Wizard Kings' from the Bible, ride camels through the streets of Las Palmas and are surrounded by floats. They throw sweets to the children and also receive their letters requesting gifts which are opened the following day. Often the Cabalgata de los Reyes helps to raise funds for children’s charities.
Festival de Música de Canarias
Classic music concerts with international orchestras and soloists take place throughout the Canary Islands. Famous names to have graced the festival over the years include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Georg Solti, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras.
Carnival in Las Palmas
The dates vary from year to year, but the main carnival celebrations last from three weeks to a month. One highlight is La Noche de la Sábana, a party where revellers wear little more than a sheet. Then there is a competition to elect the Carnival Queen, who is chosen in a big gala ceremony. A children’s Carnival Queen is also chosen. All big events and parties centre around a large open-air stage in Santa Catalina Park.
During carnival, Las Palmas is home to one big party with Latin American music, brass bands, clowns, magicians, acrobats, fireworks and the noisy and colourful fancy-dress parades. Yet the wildest night of all is when the Carnival Drag Queen is chosen. The exuberant parade, led by the lavishly decorated float of the Carnival Queen, takes place the following day. It starts in La Isleta and continues for several hours on a set itinerary through the city to the big stage at Santa Catalina Park, ending at midnight with a big fancy-dress party, where everybody joins in.
The Children’s Carnival is next to dominate the action. Finally, everything ends when the Entierro de la Sardina, Burial of the Sardine, takes place at Playa de las Canteras, accompanied by bonfires and fireworks. Apart from the residents of the city of Las Palmas and many people from other parts of the island, this carnival also attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Festival Internacional de Cine de Las Palmas (International Film Festival of Las Palmas)
Gran Canaria’s film festival attracts many international movie stars. The likes of Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and Vanessa Redgrave have visited in recent years. Films, including many independent movies, are screened in various places around the city.
Festival de Opera
This is an international opera festival, in which most of the Canary Islands participate, but it’s principally held in Las Palmas’ Teatro Pérez Galdós.
Festival Internacional de Música Popular
This is a folk music and dance festival with an international flavour, where both local and visiting groups perform.
San Juan (St. John’s Day) – June 24th
This day commemorates the foundation of the city of Las Palmas with pagan and Christian rituals and a big party. Bonfires are lit on the beaches on the night of June 24th, the high point of a week of concerts, theatre, dance and sports events, and many partygoers swim in the sea at Playa de las Canteras.
Festival Internacional Canarias Jazz & Más Heineken
This festival takes place during three weeks in July on all of the Canary Islands. On Gran Canaria it is staged in Las Palmas and includes jazz concerts performed by prominent international musicians.
Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen – Mid-July
This fiesta is held in the middle of July, when the Puerto de la Luz harbour and the fishermen and residents of the district of La Isleta honour their patron saint. During this maritime procession, the figure of the Virgin is carried on the shoulders of a crowd of revellers from the parish church who then board a boat for her annual trip along the coast off the bay of Las Palmas. Particularly eye-catching are the carpets of fresh flowers in the streets, many of them made by the local residents for this special occasion.
Fiesta de la Naval – Early October
Taking place in La Isleta district, this event, which is celebrated with a maritime procession, impressive flower decorations and fireworks, commemorates the victory of the island over the attacks from the British admirals Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins in October 1595.
Romería de Nuestra Señora de la Luz
Romería de Nuestra Señora de la Luz (Pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady of the Light) this feast is celebrated with a procession of decorated boats at sea to honour the Virgin.
Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
Taking place on the last Sunday in November, this famous rally for yachts, departing from Las Palmas to the Caribbean, attracts many international participants.
This event runs over the course of four nights (Thursday to Sunday), although there are activities in the day for both children and adults. This festival draws some of the biggest names from world music. Previous performers who have graced the stages include the legendary Femi Kuti, Amadou & Mariam and Salif Keita.