Some time around 2000, the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was brave enough to hold the first Drag Queen Contest in the Islands, choosing the best possible context: the city’s Carnival.
In those days, the capital city Carnivals needed a shake up, and suddenly the traditional festivities in homes and on the streets were hit by a new type of show, something that was spicier, cheekier, bolder, with a fresh outlook. Something… different.
Drag queens arrived in the Canaries, and they came to stay!
A little history
Since the late 1990s, drag queen performers have fitted right in to Carnival celebrations in the Canaries, the best setting to unveil their creations and strut their stuff on all the Islands.
Wigs, platform shoes and glitter soon caught on across the region, not only during Carnival. These days drag queens showcase their designs all year and at all types of celebrations, including (of course) Pride events and venues where their shows are one of the biggest tourist attractions, full of fun, originality and glamour.
Since then, they’ve generated a lot of interest in the Canary Islands and are a draw card for the fans who flock to their shows.
If you’ve ever had the chance to see a drag queen show, you’ll know it’s much more than a musical… the eyelashes, makeup and sequins are part of the satire, critique and humour, all laced with fantasy, acrobatics and fun that add to the excitement.
Drag queen shows on all the islands
From Lanzarote to La Palma, drag’s taken off in the Islands like it has in few other places in the world, possibly because of international visitors spreading the word, but definitely thanks to the reception from the locals, who welcome all kinds of people and cultural movements.
If you add the warm welcome, year-round great weather that lets us enjoy celebrations and shows outdoors, the dining options, the must-see beaches and scenery... the drag queen shows are a huge incentive for a visit to any of the Islands to see an irreverent show that essentially mocks gender roles but also stirs up our inner feelings.
Promoting the values of the sector
In the Canary Islands we understand the importance of this event, not only to highlight the destination, but also for the visibility and acceptance of the gay sector in general. It’s an event that not only creates a following for the Canary Islands Carnival across Europe, but also promotes the values of freedom of expression, tolerance, equality, fun and creativity associated with drag queens and, by extension, the LGBTQ sector.
The atmosphere surrounding the drag queens is definitely one of the Canary Islands’ biggest attractions. Even RuPaul couldn’t stay away! The world’s most famous drag queen, who’s been at loggerheads with the media since the 1980s, came to the Islands in 2008 to take part in the 10th anniversary of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Drag Queen Contest, an event that returns year after year with a difficult mission: to exceed the enormous expectations of a star event with record TV ratings that sells out in a couple of hours.
Fancy a taster? Most drag queens who take part in these very special shows during Canary Islands Carnival are big social media users who not only share aspects of their performances, but also post makeup tips for beginners and info about their latest accessories.
Drag Noa, Drag La Tullida, Drag Gio, Drag Vulcano, Drag Isabella y Punto, and Drag Quirón, among many others, will rouse your interest and encourage you to come to the Canary Islands to see their shows in person or even dress up like them to experience Carnival from a more unconventional, fun point of view.
Still not convinced? Come to the Canary Islands and see for yourself! You can find Carnival in many places, but the LGBTQ scene is hard to beat!