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The south of the island - where the popular resorts of San Agustín, Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas are located - is the warmest and sunniest part of the island; in the north and west you'll find more mountainous terrain and cooler temperatures. Elevated areas are more lush and verdant owing to higher annual rainfall; there’s virtually no rain at all on the striking seaside desert of Dunas de Maspalomas on the southern tip of the island.


Mardi Gras (mid-late February) is carnival time in Gran Canaria, and if you're a keen photographer you shouldn't miss this opportunity to catch the colourful costumes and exuberant parades held around this time. Hundreds of floats wind through the streets of Las Palmas; there's music, dancing and sweets galore; and the whole celebration finishes with the unmissable 'burial of the sardine' in which an enormous replica of the local fish is paraded through the streets and finally cremated. Party lovers shouldn't miss this event!


The Rally Islas Canarias has been drawing rally-racing fans to the island since 1977. Now part of the European Rally Championship, the event (held near Las Palmas) is notable for its scenic yet challenging route formed from natural volcanic lava.


Continuing the carnival theme, Maspalomas Pride festival is one of Europe's biggest. Usually held around the beginning of May, the event attracts over 100,000 visitors annually for a week of dancing, pool parties, fun in the sun and an enormous parade. Expect a relaxed and friendly vibe, fierce drag queens and a pumping soundtrack.


The Fiesta del Carmen is a feast held in honour of the Virgin Mary, particularly in coastal towns and fishing villages where she is is the patron saint and protector of fishermen. The Fiesta falls on 16 July each year, and is celebrated with parades through the city and a maritime procession of beautifully decorated boats. The festival takes place all over the island, most notably in fishing villages such as Puerto Mogan or Arguineguin on the south-east coast.


Autumn is a quiet time of year in Gran Canaria, although you may find the victory of the Spanish Armada over Sir Francis Drake being celebrated in coastal towns on the second Saturday in October with naval processions.


Gran Canaria is a magical place to say Feliz Navidad - Playa de las Canteras in the north of the island hosts an exhibition of Nativity-themed sand sculptures each year in December - look out for beautiful stable scenes, stars of Bethlehem and wise men crafted in sand! Carol services and nativity plays are held all over the island, along with a Christmas market and visits from Father Christmas. Enjoy Christmas and New Year with a difference!

When NOT to go

Climate-wise, Gran Canaria is pleasant year-round so there's no reason not to visit in summer, autumn or winter. However, the busiest (and most expensive) season is December to February when holidaymakers from Northern Europe head south for a spot of winter sun. May to September are also peak months, and particularly during the school summer holiday period. If you prefer your beaches and restaurants a little less crowded, aim to visit outside of these times.

What to wear and pack

During the summer months, you'll want to take lightweight clothing suitable for a subtropical climate. For daytime, light, loose sundresses, linen shorts or trousers, t-shirts and a beach cover-up will keep you cool and comfortable. Jeans and leggings will be much too heavy for the climate -; leave them at home.

For the evening, pack a smarter dress or shirt and lightweight trousers, along with a light jacket if you plan on dining somewhere fancy. Some more formal restaurants enforce a dress code, so pack some footwear other than trainers and flip-flops if fine dining is on your itinerary.

From November to March, you'll probably want to add a jumper, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers for the cooler evenings, and pack an umbrella or light raincoat in case of showers. Year-round you’ll want to pack swimwear, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen.

If you plan to do any serious walking or hiking, pack a pair of boots. The weather in the mountains is more changeable than in the flat south, so take a light sweater and some waterproof clothing with you.

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