Things to do in Gran Canaria

Christmas in Gran Canaria, Spain

Tell Santa to forward your gifts this year. You're spending Christmas in Gran Canaria. Feliz Navidad!

Buy your gifts early, and spend Christmas in Gran Canaria in 2024. The Spanish autonomous region is an island paradise off the coast of northwestern Africa, making it a top destination for tourists who’d rather spend their holidays sunbathing than shoveling snow.

Along with all the usual things to do in Gran Canaria, holiday travelers have their pick of cultural celebrations, festivals, and craft markets. Gran Canaria also has a nearly endless supply of fresh fish thanks to its coastal location. Fresh-caught grouper, jack mackerel, and white seabream will make this year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes extra special.

Cultural Celebrations

Gran Canaria attracts more than 100,000 tourists annually, whether it be for stargazing in Tenerife or for the area’s sandy beaches. The Canary Islands are so enchanting that some decide to stay forever. As a result, Canarians have embraced an eclectic mix of cultural traditions. Whether you’re interested in pre-Hispanic archaeological sites or historical homes, Gran Canaria is the place to be.

It’s even more exciting when holiday cheer starts to spread like wildfire. You can almost hear sleigh bells in the distance as you partake in various standout events designed to give everyone a chance to celebrate.

1. Sand Nativity Scene Exhibition at Las Canteras Beach

Forget about snow. December in Gran Canaria is all about sand. The world’s finest sand sculptors descend on Las Canteras Beach to build a giant nativity scene, using their skills to dazzle spectators worldwide.

Etual Ojeda, a Canadian artist, got the ball rolling in the 1980s. His original sand sculpture depicted a scene from the biblical Christmas story, turning it into a popular holiday attraction. Soon, more sculptors joined the fun, adding symbols from other religious traditions.

The awe-inspiring sculpture has over 2,000 tons of sand, making it the perfect backdrop for photos. Take a selfie before the Three Wise Men, have your spouse pose in front of the donkey, or let your kids pretend they’re shepherds.

Capture the imposing rock formations behind the nativity scene to wow your friends back home.

Photographer: FrodeCJ

2. The Christmas House at Vallesco

Delight your little ones with a tour of the Christmas House at Vallesco in Las Palmas. Although it’s located in a casino, it’s a family-friendly event. Casino staff go all out, creating a series of themed rooms designed to spark joy in the hearts of all who visit.

You may even see a few elves wrapping gifts or scurrying around as they prepare for Santa’s next inspection. Popular themes include Circus World, Dinosaur Forest, Toy Factory, and Ice World.

If you have kids in tow, let them pick which room to visit first. Perhaps they’ll want to see dinosaurs decked out for the holidays or run to Ice World to see if it’s filled with twinkling icicle lights. If they can’t agree on a theme, have them duke it out in an epic battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Although the Christmas House is one of the most kid-friendly events in the Canaries, it’s not just for kids. If you’re looking for an event that makes you feel young again, gather your besties and tell them to meet you at the Vallesco Casino.


Many of Gran Canaria's tourists come from the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. These European influences are evident in local Christmas celebrations. While you’re in the area, celebrate the season by taking in a toe-tapping musical performance.

Whether you love classical music or heavy metal, you’ll find at least one type of event to tickle your fancy. Try not to drown out the performers with your renditions of ho-ho-holiday melodies.

3. Los Gofiones Christmas Concert at Plaza de Santa Ana

If you ask a local to name some of the most enduring musical groups in Gran Canaria, there’s a good chance they’ll mention Los Gofiones. After more than five decades in the business, these musical marvels continue to wow audience members with their soulful singing.

The annual Christmas concert gets everyone in the mood for the upcoming holiday. The Los Gofiones Christmas concert occurs at Plaza de Santa Ana, the heart of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

As you hum to traditional Christmas music, gaze at the tops of the palm trees swaying in the breeze. Not everyone gets to spend the holidays in a tropical climate, so enjoy it while you can.

Photographer: hikersbay

4. Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has had some type of philharmonic orchestra since the mid-1800s. Still, it wasn’t until 1980 that the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria started receiving ongoing support from a public foundation.

Musicians and staff are committed to sharing the Canaries' musical traditions, so don’t expect to hear the same old tunes at every performance. Although the orchestra has a packed schedule, people all over Gran Canaria look forward to its holiday performances.

The organization partners with a charity each year, ensuring the concert proceeds go to good use. In 2023, OFGC partnered with the DISA Foundation. We love attending these concerts, knowing our money goes to help others.

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Une publication partagée par Orquesta Filarmonica de G. C. (@ofgrancanaria)

5. Navidonia by Zalakadula

Schmaltzy shows are a dime a dozen, so if you’re tired of holiday tearjerkers, grab tickets to a performance of Navidonia by ZalaKadula at Teatro Pérez Galdós. ZalaKadula isn’t just a theater troupe. It’s an entertainment factory specializing in the production of humorous musicals.

Navidonia provides the perfect opportunity to forget about what’s going on back at the office and allow your imagination to run wild. The family-friendly performance features TikTok-style dances and catchy songs, making this Gran Canaria Christmas one for the record books.

If you visit Gran Canaria at Christmas and want to return another time, the theater maintains a full schedule of performances throughout the year. We highly recommend the opera series, which mixes classics like Nabucco with some lesser-known works.

Speaking of letting your imagination run wild, our shows in Gran Canaria combine imaginative storytelling with amazing acrobatic feats. We dare you not to gasp as our performers jump, dance, and twirl across the stage while wearing some of the most stunning costumes you’ll ever see.

Art and Craft Markets

If you love arts and crafts, you’ll never want to leave Gran Canaria. Palm trees, sandy beaches, and oceans attract artists worldwide, creating a virtual melting pot of artistic styles and cultural influences. Some artists even honor the Canaries by incorporating local grasses, palm leaves, and stones.

During Christmas, artisans peddle at arts and crafts markets throughout Gran Canaria. Quilts, sculptures, and figurines are just a few handmade items for discerning shoppers.

There’s something special about meeting an item’s creator instead of ordering from a big-box retailer, so take advantage of the opportunity. Before you move on to the next activity, strike up a conversation with at least one artist.

Learn about their background and discover what inspires them to create. Their story will become part of yours, giving you a memory to cherish long after your tan fades and you shake all the sand out of your clothing.

6. San Telmo Artisan Market

Parque de San Telmo is usually a quiet oasis in a bustling city, but all that changes during the holiday season. Once December rolls around, be prepared to meet many shoppers searching for the perfect Christmas gift.

Whether you’re looking for handmade quilts or brooms made from natural materials, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the San Telmo Artisan Market. A rotating cast of vendors makes the shopping experience more exciting, as you never know who will be there.

If you see Andrea López Sahún, check out her modern take on ceramic dinnerware. Sahún makes enameled dishes that fit seamlessly into any contemporary kitchen. You can tell your grandmother you don’t need her outdated plates.

Local dressmaker Arantxa Arenas makes sweaters, jackets, and other fashionable clothing from cotton and poplin. These lightweight fabrics are ideal for island life but also work well in an office setting.

7. Canary Islands Craft Fair

For nearly 40 years, artisans have been coming to the Canary Islands Craft Fair to promote local craft traditions. The fair features more than 100 vendors, so unless you’re the pickiest shopper in the world, we’re confident you’ll find something you love.

If you’re looking for something special, skip the usual blankets and scarves and head straight to the nearest wood carver. Skilled craftspeople use chisels, mallets, knives, and other tools of the trade to create intricate figurines and attractive decorative items.

We’re also in awe of the skill on display at the lace maker’s booth. If you’ve always wanted a delicate scarf or pair of lace earrings, you can get them at this craft fair.

Since the Canary Islands Craft Fair is in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, we recommend staying for a few days.

Christmas Dinners

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a feast fit for royalty. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria already has 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, but their dishes are no match for the Christmas dinners offered in the lead-up to the holidays.

Eat seafood, meat, and vegetables while toasting new friends or exploring the Canary Islands with your travel buddies.

8. Ocean Club Maspalomas

Experience Christmas at the beach with a holiday dinner at Ocean Club Maspalomas. Thanks to the bounty of seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, sautéed octopus, crispy prawns, and ceviche are the stars of the menu.

If you want something more substantial, nosh on the sea bass filet. It’s almost like eating a steak, but it's much healthier. If you’re dining with picky eaters, don’t panic. The Ocean Club menu has something for everyone. Perhaps they’d enjoy chicken tenders with honey mustard or a pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, and ham.

Live like the locals by ordering sangria instead of your usual cocktail. Don’t fill up before dessert; you’ll miss out on a slice of decadent cheesecake with jam or a brownie with pistachios. Pair your sweet treat with a cup of café leche y leche to finish your meal.

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Une publication partagée par OCEAN CLUB MASPALOMAS (@oceanclubmaspalomas)

9. The English Bakery Café

Tucked away in Maspalomas, the English Bakery Café caters to the thousands of UK tourists who visit Gran Canaria each year. If you’re homesick, wolf down an order of beer-battered fish or the beans and toast. Just one bite is enough to make you feel like you’re riding a double-decker bus through the streets of London.

The English Bakery Café offers a wide selection of baked goods, including vegan scones. The bakery makes its scones with zero animal-derived ingredients, so you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying a treat. If scones aren’t your thing, try a different dessert or pick up a pack of Warburtons crumpets imported directly from the United Kingdom.

Discover the Holiday Spirit on an Island Paradise With Gran Canaria's Unique Christmas Events

Spending Christmas in Gran Canaria in 2024 is the opportunity of a lifetime. You can chill out on the beach with an umbrella cocktail and a good book, and once you’re sufficiently relaxed, check out one of the many Christmas events taking place during your vacation.

No travel itinerary is complete without at least one live performance. Our shows in Gran Canaria combine heart-pounding acrobatics, powerful storytelling, and gravity-defying aerial artistry to create a spectacle of epic proportions. Surprise your travel companions with tickets to the best show in town.

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