The carnival of the Canary Isles: the happiest show on Earth
As we come closer, I hear the roars of laughter, cheering and chanting. It sounds like the most lively and ecstatic crowd I have ever heard. We are only a few cobbled streets away from what the leaflet we found in our hotel described to be ‘the happiest show on Earth’; we can see the beginnings of the many market stalls selling everything from handmade dreamcatchers to bite-size portions of traditional Spanish dishes.
I’m in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote on my way to the annual Spanish Carnival which is taking place in the very centre of town. This Spanish island is part of the Canary Isles, where the gentle breeze carries the soft blue waves onto the sandy shores and the bright sun radiates on the snowy white houses of the locals.
The enticing smells of seafood and tapas are so overwhelming they are making my mouth water, and make you want to eat everything you can see. We wander through the market, not knowing where to look. The locals are giving out free samples at almost every stall whilst trying to catch our attention amongst the floods of people, yet there is a language barrier that proves to be quite an issue. Despite this we feel welcomed by them.
The short journey to the centre of town is filled with the sound of the sea crashing onto the wall of rocks as we walk through the never-ending rows of palm trees that stand tall and proud against the side of the busy pavement; welcoming visitors from across the globe.
We finally make it to the town square to find crowds of people who are all different shapes, sizes and from across the world. They are heaped together around the edges of the square behind a luminous red barricade; keeping them from the centre where the uneven floor and calm air is waiting to come to life. The radiant sun is throbbing down onto my skin resulting in a subtle glow and rosy cheeks; I’m getting warmer by the minute. The sky is a bold, bright blue without a single cloud to be seen, which I have become pleasantly used to seeing since being here. The temperature is gradually increasing as more and more people cram together until we are all slightly touching.
Finally we hear a strong and deep thud onto a drum that sends instant silence through the before mumbling crowd. Everyones eyes are on the far left corner of the square where I can just about see a group of Spanish salsa dancers followed by a band of every instrument you can think of. The dancers look identical to each other: all dressed in fiery red dresses that match the delicate flower on the left side of their heads. I can see three gigantic floats parading through the square, floating effortlessly as though alive with the rhythm of the music. There is a duck, decorated in flamboyant shades of pink and orange, alongside a dragon which is an iridescent green with scales that are reflecting the sunlight in every direction. Lastly I see a huge traditional Spanish fan that is surrounded by more dancers, who look as though they are having the time of their lives. By now I can see about fifty of the happiest people singing and dancing whilst colours of every shade, glitter and laughter fill the space around them.
The atmosphere is almost indescribable as I look around to find that every person I can see next to me is smiling and clapping along, whilst the air is filled with their laughter and joy. There is so much going on in front of me that I have never seen before. I have the urge to join in with them as they look so content and thrilled with what they are doing and I can sense this feeling is spreading through the crowds. It lasts about fifteen minutes, but feels so much shorter. As they finish we all cheer and clap until nobody can any longer. People are slowly starting to filter out of the square and people come to clean up the confetti and glitter left behind. All I can hear from the crowds is how excited and overjoyed they feel after watching the show. The leaflet was right: what I just witnessed truly was the happiest show on earth.
Sophie Richardson, Year 12