Annual Festivals and Events in Gran Canaria

First published on March 28, 2024 and last updated on March 31, 2024
Fireworks at Puerto de Mogan at night

Gran Canaria, is not just an island packed with activities, boat trips and awesome beaches, it also has a calendar of festivals and events as colourful as its landscapes! Throughout the year, Gran Canaria bursts into life capturing its rich cultural heritage, lively spirit, and diverse community. From the rhythmic beats of Carnival to the solemnity of religious fiestas, there’s always something happening that invites locals and visitors alike to join in the festivities.

Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Every year, the streets of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria explode into a riot of colour and sound during the Carnival, which is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the island. Spanning February and March, the festival is a spectacular showcase of creativity and fun, with a history that stretches back centuries.

The Carnival features a packed schedule of parades, music, and dance, with the highlight being the grand parade, or “Cabalgata,” where lavishly decorated floats and costumed performers fill the streets. One of the most iconic events is the Queen’s Gala, where contestants in stunning, elaborate costumes compete for the Carnival Queen title.

Aside from these, the Carnival includes murga performances (satirical singing groups), comparsas (dance groups), and numerous street parties. Everyone is welcome to join in the festivities, dress up in colourful costumes, and dance to the rhythm of Latin music till the early hours.

Dia de Canarias (Canary Islands Day)

Celebrated on the 30th of May each year, Dia de Canarias is a day steeped in local pride and cultural heritage. This public holiday across the Canary Islands honours the unique Canarian identity with a variety of festivities that showcase the archipelago’s traditions, music, and gastronomy.

On this day, the streets and public spaces of Gran Canaria come alive with the sounds of folk music and the sight of traditional Canarian dances. Dressed in customary attire, locals perform dances like the isa and the folías, while the air is filled with the melodies of timple (a small Canarian guitar) concerts.

Gastronomic events are a significant part of the celebrations, with food fairs and tastings that offer a chance to savour traditional Canarian dishes such as papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo sauce, gofio (toasted flour), and fresh seafood.

Educational activities and workshops highlight the archipelago’s history and crafts, such as pottery, basket weaving, and woodcarving, fostering a deeper appreciation for the islands’ cultural roots.

Fiesta de San Juan

The Fiesta de San Juan, celebrated on the night of June 23rd, is a magical time in Gran Canaria, marking the beginning of summer with a mix of ancient traditions and modern celebrations. As night falls, the island’s beaches and towns become the setting for bonfires, music, and revelry, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

This festival has its roots in pagan rituals celebrating the summer solstice, and today it blends these ancient customs with contemporary festivities. Bonfires are a central element, symbolising purification and renewal. Locals and tourists alike gather around these fires to jump over them, a tradition believed to protect against evil spirits and bring good luck.

Fiesta del Charco

The Fiesta del Charco, held on the 11th of September in the town of La Aldea de San Nicolás, is one of Gran Canaria’s most unique and traditional events. This festival has its origins in pre-Hispanic times and offers a glimpse into the island’s aboriginal past.

The main event of this festival is a peculiar and lively tradition where participants, both locals and visitors, wade into the lagoon, El Charco, to catch fish with their bare hands. This ritual commemorates the ancient fishing techniques of the Canarian ancestors and symbolises the community’s connection to its natural environment and history.

Before the fish-catching frenzy begins, there’s a festive atmosphere with music, dance, and traditional Canarian foods being enjoyed by all. Participants often dress in old clothes or costumes, ready to get wet and muddy in the lagoon.

Festival Internacional de Música de Canarias

The Festival Internacional de Música de Canarias, held annually in January and February, is a highlight in the cultural calendar of the Canary Islands, attracting classical music enthusiasts from around the world. This prestigious event is renowned for its high-quality performances and the stunning locations that host its concerts, including theatres, churches, and historic buildings across Gran Canaria and the other islands.

The festival features a diverse program of classical music, ranging from symphonic to chamber music, performed by internationally acclaimed orchestras, conductors, and soloists. It provides a platform for both well-established artists and rising stars in the classical music scene.

One of the festival’s objectives is to bring classical music to a wider audience, and it includes educational outreach programs, masterclasses, and workshops for young musicians. This not only nurtures local talent but also ensures the future of classical music in the Canary Islands.

Feria de Artesanía de Canarias

The Feria de Artesanía de Canarias, typically held in December in Las Palmas, is a celebration of the rich artisan traditions of the Canary Islands. This annual craft fair is not just a market but a vibrant cultural event that brings together artisans from all seven islands, showcasing the diversity and skill of Canarian craftsmanship.

Visitors to the fair can explore a wide array of handmade products, including ceramics, textiles, woodwork, jewellery, and leather goods. Each piece reflects the unique cultural heritage and natural resources of the islands, from the intricate designs inspired by indigenous Guanche motifs to items crafted from local materials like palm, clay, and volcanic stone.

Fiesta de la Rama

The Fiesta de la Rama, held annually on the 4th of August in the town of Agaete, is one of Gran Canaria’s most vibrant and colourful events. This festival, with roots dating back to pre-Hispanic times, is a blend of indigenous traditions and Christian influences, culminating in a unique celebration that attracts locals and tourists alike.

During the festival, participants take to the streets carrying branches from trees, a tradition believed to invoke rain from the gods. The procession is a lively and jubilant affair, with thousands of people dancing to the rhythm of bands and drums, waving their branches in the air as they make their way to the church of ‘Our Lady of the Snows‘.

Upon reaching the church, the branches are thrown into a pile as an offering, followed by a mass to bless the water, symbolising purification and renewal. The event is not just a religious ceremony but a communal expression of joy and hope, drawing people together in a shared cultural heritage.

The night before the main procession, the town comes alive with music, dancing, and festivities, setting the stage for the day’s events. The Fiesta de la Rama is renowned for its exuberant atmosphere, providing a spectacular experience of Canarian culture and festivity.

Temudas Fest

Temudas Fest, held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria during July and August, is a dynamic festival celebrating the performing arts. This event transforms the city into a vibrant stage for theatre, dance, and music, attracting performers and audiences from across the globe.

The festival’s programme is diverse, featuring everything from avant-garde plays to classical theatre, contemporary dance performances, and open-air concerts. These events take place in various locations around the city, including parks, squares, and theatres, making the arts accessible to a wide audience.

WOMAD Festival

The WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is an international event that celebrates the global tapestry of music, art, and dance. Held in November, WOMAD is part of a larger series of festivals taking place worldwide, known for its diverse lineup and inclusive atmosphere.

At WOMAD Gran Canaria, attendees can enjoy performances from international artists spanning a wide range of genres, from folk and jazz to reggae and world music. The festival’s aim is to bring together artists from different cultures and backgrounds, creating a vibrant mosaic of sounds and styles that reflects the interconnectedness of the global community.

Gran Canaria Film Festival

The Gran Canaria Film Festival, held in March, is a celebration of cinematic arts that attracts filmmakers, critics, and movie enthusiasts from around the world. This event showcases a wide range of films, from feature-length movies to documentaries and short films, highlighting the diversity and creativity of the global film industry.

Screenings take place in various venues across the island, including modern cinemas, open-air theatres, and cultural centres, providing a dynamic and accessible cinematic experience. The festival also includes masterclasses, panel discussions, and networking events, offering valuable learning and collaboration opportunities for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Maspalomas Pride

Gran Canaria is a popular destination for the LGBTQ community, and Maspalomas Pride is an event that attracts thousands of holiday-makers to the island. Held every May in the popular resort town of Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, it is a spectacular celebration of diversity, love, and freedom. It has grown to become one of Europe’s most popular and vibrant LGBT pride events, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe.

The festival spans over a week, featuring a rich programme of events, including parades, live concerts, parties, and cultural activities. The highlight is the Pride Parade, a colourful and joyful procession through the streets of Maspalomas, showcasing flamboyant costumes, elaborate floats, and a spirit of inclusivity and celebration.

Almond Blossom Festival

The Almond Blossom Festival, held annually in February, is a picturesque event that celebrates the blooming of almond trees in the mountainous regions of Gran Canaria, particularly in the town of Tejeda. This festival is a homage to the beauty of nature and the rural heritage of the island, offering a peaceful and scenic escape.

Visitors can enjoy guided walks through almond groves, where the landscape is transformed into a stunning display of pink and white blossoms. The festival also features traditional Canarian music and dance performances, craft markets, and almond-themed gastronomy, including tastings of sweets and dishes made from almonds.

The Car Rally Islas Canarias

The Car Rally Islas Canarias is an exciting and adrenaline-filled event that forms part of the European Rally Championship. Held annually, usually in May, this event attracts top drivers and teams from around Europe to compete on the challenging mountain roads of Gran Canaria.

The rally is famed for its twisting routes that traverse the island’s diverse landscapes, from coastal areas to steep mountainous terrains. Spectators can witness high-speed action as competitors navigate sharp turns and dramatic elevation changes, showcasing their driving skills and the performance of their vehicles.

The Gran Canaria Walking Festival

The Gran Canaria Walking Festival is an annual event that invites hiking enthusiasts to explore the natural beauty of the island through a series of guided walks. Held in the autumn, this festival showcases the diverse landscapes of Gran Canaria, from lush forests and mountain peaks to desert-like terrains and coastal paths.

Participants have the opportunity to choose from various hiking routes, each offering a unique perspective on the island’s geography and ecosystems. The walks are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the local flora, fauna, and geological features, enhancing the hiking experience.

Winter Pride Gran Canaria

Winter Pride Gran Canaria, held annually in November in Maspalomas, is a vibrant celebration of diversity and inclusivity, echoing the spirit of the summer Pride but with a unique winter twist. This event has quickly become a highlight for the LGBT+ community and allies, offering a week of entertainment, culture, and socialising in a warm and welcoming environment.

The festival features a variety of events, including live music performances, drag shows, pool parties, and a parade. The Yumbo Centre, located in the heart of Maspalomas, is the focal point of the festivities, hosting nightly events where attendees can enjoy performances from international artists, DJs, and entertainers.

Fiesta de la Virgen del Pino

The Fiesta de la Virgen del Pino is an important religious and cultural event in Gran Canaria, taking place every September in Teror. This festival honours the patron saint of the island, the Virgin of the Pine, and is a significant occasion for locals, reflecting deep-rooted religious traditions and communal spirit.

The celebration centres around the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pine, where the revered image of the Virgin is housed. Pilgrims from across the island, and even from other parts of the Canary Islands, converge on Teror to pay homage, many walking long distances to reach the town.

Wrapping Up Gran Canaria’s Year of Celebrations

As we draw the curtain on our exploration of Gran Canaria’s vibrant festivals and events, it’s clear that the island is a tapestry of traditions, history, and joyous celebrations. Each event tells a story of community, heritage, and the unending zest for life that defines Gran Canaria.

Choosing the best time to visit Gran Canaria depends on what you’re looking for, with each season offering its own unique charm and array of events. But remember, these festivals are not just dates on a calendar; they are the heartbeat of the island, inviting everyone to experience the warmth, colour, and excitement that make Gran Canaria truly unique. So, whether you’re dancing under the summer sun or walking through almond blossoms in the cool of winter, Gran Canaria offers a year-round invitation to celebrate and discover the magic of its island spirit.