Stories of people & places, festivities & traditions from my travels around the world

Carnival Time in a Lanzarote Village

by Lucy Hornberger

Leading the carnival parade

Canary Islanders take the Carnival season very seriously. Parties, celebrations and parades happen not just on the days running up to Shrove Tuesday, but in many places keep going well into Lent. After watching Lanzarote's grand Arrecife carnival parade on local TV we were inspired to catch the San Bartolomé village parade. Although smaller than the capital's parade it was just as lively and colourful!
It turned out to be a delightfully local affair, very family orientated and hardly a tourist to be seen. In fact, arriving an hour or so early we were initially worried that we were in the wrong place or had come on the wrong day. But while we tarried in a coffee shop a few people in fancy dress drifted past and slowly the crowd started to build up. And pretty much on schedule the first carnival team came leaping, dancing and drumming into sight.
It was lively stuff, with lots of percussion and some really professional dancing. If any of the dancers were tiring by the time we saw them (half way round the route) they certainly weren't showing it! Many of the costumes were amazing too, with so much care and work lavished on them. We especially liked some elaborate ones seemingly inspired by a head on collision between Alice in Wonderland and the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel…
The official theme was 'Carnival Wars' and the poster featured Darth Vader. There were indeed Jedi Knights and Roman soldiers, and a whole mob of young pirates - each with a parrot on his or her shoulder. But the interpretation was lose enough to encompass a Zoo Loco (crazy zoo) of grown adults in animal onsies, and even a whole Disney 'Frozen' themed floats. Charlie Chaplin put in a guest appearance too.
The carnival spirit of mischief and transgression was represented more by some of the onlookers - many in drag - with the exception of the carnival Drag Queen sporting platform shoes that would have made Naomi Campbell proud. As darkness fell and the temperature dropped we headed for home while the parade danced on towards further festivities in the town plaza.

Article & photos posted February 10th, 2016

Text and photos copyright © 2016 Lucy Hornberger. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.


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