10 Things to Do in Gran Canaria in December

December marks the beginning of the high season in Gran Canaria and also the Christmas attractions that bathe the island in lights and Christmas-themed festivities.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Gran Canaria in December

Christmas tree in the Canary Islands | Jany jimenez marrero

Christmas eve usually changes the dynamics of tourist destinations and Gran Canaria is no exception to the rule, as during the month of December the island prepares to welcome Christmas and bathes itself in lights, festivities, Christmas markets and concerts to celebrate the beginning of the high season.

In addition to the best things to see and do in Gran Canaria, December brings clean, open skies, surfing competitions, Christmas festivals and markets, and the traditional beauty of the historic center of Las Palmas, all with fewer tourists than in the summer and ideal weather for outdoor excursions.

1. Visit the Belén de Arena in Las Canteras Beach

Bethlehem of sand| ©Komel K
Bethlehem of sand| ©Komel K

Las Canteras Beach is one of the most famous beaches of the island, one of the most visited by tourists and the most popular for concerts. As traveling to Gran Canaria in winter does not mean giving up the sunny days, it enjoys a very good reputation also in December and accompanying the Christmas spirit there is built every year a Bethlehem of Sand that attracts visitors.

The Belén de Arena started as a tradition of independent artists and gained ground to become one of the best activities in Gran Canaria and a different and unique concept of Christmas celebration. Every year the best sand sculptors in the world look for a place in Las Canteras Beach to develop their works.

The sculptures of the Belén de Arena also have a cultural function, since during the exhibition, which lasts throughout December, it is accompanied by artists' events and other activities organized by the government of the island. Admission is free and it is possible to access every day from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm.

2. Attend the Christmas Eve concert at Santa Ana Square

Christmas Eve Concert| ©Nicolas Vigier
Christmas Eve Concert| ©Nicolas Vigier

During December, Gran Canaria proudly exhibits all its natural beauties but also shows its musical and cultural offer, since it is the month of concerts in every corner of the island. One of the best known is the traditional concert before Christmas Eve, which takes place every year in the Plaza de Santa Ana, one of the main squares of Las Palmas.

The protagonists of these concerts are the musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and their carols are combined with the sunny and warm days, in a Christmas celebration different from the traditional ones.

The Plaza de Santa Ana is also located in the heart of the historic center of Vegueta, so when night falls the spectacle illuminates the traditional sites of the old neighborhood creating a very special atmosphere.

Vegueta can be reached by public transport buses or Gran Canaria's hop-on-hop-off tourist buses. During the day of the concert, which is free of charge, you can also visit the best museums of the old town, such as the Casa de Colón, the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, the Casa Museo Pérez Galdós and the Museo Canario, without having to pay anything.

Book a sightseeing bus tour in Gran Canaria

3. Visit the Christmas markets of the island

Maspaloma Christmas Market| ©Tom Swinnen
Maspaloma Christmas Market| ©Tom Swinnen

When Christmas Eve begins, Gran Canaria also formally inaugurates the Christmas market season. In Las Palmas you can find some of the best known ones, such as the Maritim Playa Christmas Craft Market, which is located in the area of Playa del Inglés, and which imitates the tradition of the German markets.

You can also visit the Maspalomas, Telde, Teror and Vega de San Mateo markets. Other markets such as the one in El Puerto or Vegueta adapt to Christmas and dress up with colored lights, festive decorations and offer Christmas food and products.

In each of them it is possible to come across Santa Claus and other Christmas characters with whom you can take pictures, so it is an excellent option if you plan to visit Gran Canaria with children.

Markets usually extend their opening hours during Christmas and it is common to come across street music shows and other open-air concerts.

4. Take an adventurous excursion in perfect weather

Roque Nublo Natural Monument| ©Roquenublogc
Roque Nublo Natural Monument| ©Roquenublogc

December is a time of frequent rains in Gran Canaria but also with the humidity the temperature drops a little and that collaborates with the adventure excursions, which often tend to be overwhelming during the days of high sun and heat.

Therefore, December is an ideal month to visit the Natural Monument of Roque Nublo, the Dunes of Maspalomas, and the Pico de las Nieves.

The best tours in Gran Canaria are outdoors and in many cases on difficult hiking tra ils or long walks, so having the help of cool weather will facilitate the tour and enhance your experience.

Keep in mind that some of the adventure excursions are suspended in case of rain, so I recommend that before booking you check the weather to avoid changes in the dates, which could be detrimental if you have planned a short stay on the island. If that is your case, here is a list of activities to discover Gran Canaria in 3 days.

Book a rock climbing experience in Gran Canaria

5. Visit a theme park with less tourist crowds

Holiday World Maspalomas| ©Angeles Espino
Holiday World Maspalomas| ©Angeles Espino

In December tourism starts to reactivate on the island, but it is still an ideal time to visit the best theme parks in Gran Canaria with a smaller influx of tourists, especially those that during the summer months usually have a large number of visitors or sell out their tickets.

If you prefer Ferris wheels and roller coasters, you can visit Holiday World Maspalomas, if you intend to travel to the Far West, you can visit Sioux City and if you prefer water parks, you can choose Aqualand Maspalomas or Lago del Taurito. In all cases you can book in advance and some of these parks include reduced rates for children.

If you plan to travel with friends, you can also visit theme parks for adults, such as Hangar 37, a battle scenario where you will have to defend yourself with airsoft ball guns in a fun experience.

Book tickets to Sioux City Park theme park

6. Walk through the old town of Las Palmas and marvel at the Christmas lights

Santa Ana Cathedral| ©Maciej J
Santa Ana Cathedral| ©Maciej J

Vegueta, the old town of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is a haven of colonial houses, typical balconies, cobbled streets and a host of attractions such as the Plaza de Santa Ana, San Telmo Park, the Cathedral and the Casa de Colón.

All these buildings, which date back to the times of the city's founding in the 15th century, are illuminated in December to welcome Christmas and celebrate the pre-Christmas Eve concert in the Plaza de Santa Ana. Touring this traditional neighborhood bathed in Christmas colors is one of the best options to visit.

Keep in mind that the winding streets of the old town are built in height, so I recommend that you wear comfortable shoes when you visit them. Although in December the weather is usually not so hot, the best time for a walk is during the morning.

Vegueta is also a good option if you need to go shopping, as you will find a lot of stores in the main street of Triana. Nearby you can also have lunch or buy food at the Vegueta Market.

7. Take a shark snorkeling tour

Snorkeling in Gran Canaria| ©chripell
Snorkeling in Gran Canaria| ©chripell

You can go on some of the best dolphin watching excursions in Gran Canaria, but you can also opt for snorkeling excursions to discover some of the animals that don't come to the surface such as turtles, rays and sharks.

Diving excursions in winter are a good option to see the endangered angel shark in the Gran Canaria area , which visits the coasts of the island between November and January looking for breeding sites. With the necessary care and the assistance of instructors, it is possible to swim close to them.

Keep in mind that from mid-December onwards the influx of tourists increases substantially, so if you want to do an excursion of this type I recommend that you book in advance to avoid delays or last minute increases in the price of the tours.

During December you can also opt for snorkeling experiences or some of the best boat trips in Gran Canaria.

Book a diving excursion in Gran Canaria

8. Chasing shooting stars in the sky of Gran Canaria

Maspalomas Lighthouse| ©Jaime Hernández Barrera
Maspalomas Lighthouse| ©Jaime Hernández Barrera

The Canary Islands have some of the clearest skies in the world and during December you can enjoy the Geminids, one of the showers of stars that fill the sky with bright stars every year.

The interesting thing about the Geminids is that to see them you don't need telescopes or professional equipment, you just need to observe them with the naked eye. The only thing you will have to do is to place yourself in a dark place and fix your eyes on the sky to detect them.

In Gran Canaria, Las Canteras Beach or the area of the Maspalomas Lighthouse are the ideal places for sightings and during the Geminids, groups of amateurs usually gather to follow the phenomenon closely.

Canary Islands also has three Starlight reserves, which are protected from light pollution, but they are located in La Palma, Fuerteventura and Tenerife. You can also see the phenomenon clearly from the Roque de los Muchachos Astrophysical Observatory, which is the highest point on the Isla Bonita.

9. Taste the typical Christmas dishes and sweets of the Canary Islands

Trout stuffed with yellow sweet potato| ©Mari
Trout stuffed with yellow sweet potato| ©Mari

In December in the Canary Islands you can enjoy one of the best climates in the middle of winter, contemplate some of the best starry skies and also taste the typical sweets and desserts of the Canarian cuisine, with the particularities of each area and each island.

Whether in the Christmas markets, in the street stalls or in the restaurants that change their menu on Christmas Eve, you will be able to choose which delicacies to try.

The most popular dish is the trout stuffed with yellow sweet potato, which is a must on any Canarian table during Christmas, but there is also a place for the sweet potato cagajones, which are characteristic of Gran Canaria, alfajores from La Gomera, mantecados de vino, homemade nougat, almendrados palmeros and almond cheese, very typical of El Hierro.

If you really want to get to know the local gastronomy and products, you can't miss the island's wineries that produce red wine and rum distilleries, nor the sausages of Gran Canaria, which are among the best in Spain.

10. Attend the LPA Surf City Open, the most important surfing competition in Spain

Surfing in Gran Canaria| ©Collecionista de instantes
Surfing in Gran Canaria| ©Collecionista de instantes

Gran Canaria is considered one of the Spanish surfing capitals and every year, in La Cícer Beach, in Las Canteras, the Open LPA Surf City is held , a test that scores for the national surfing circuit and that takes place in December bringing together some of the best surfers in Spain and Europe in the men's and women's categories.

The Open LPA Surf City is a prestigious competition that has gained fame as the most important of the national surfing circuit, besides being the only one with a three-star rating that puts every year 1400 points at stake. It is also the competition that represents the Iberdrola League of the Spanish Surfing Federation on the island, which previously passes through communities such as Asturias, Andalusia, Cantabria and Galicia.

The choice of Gran Canaria in December is not random, but it is the best time for surfing on the island because of the wind speed and the weather. Therefore, it is the ultimate test to crown the annual winners of the Spanish surfing competitions in men's and women's categories.

If you enjoy surfing or just want to see some of the best surfers breaking the biggest waves in Spain, you can come to Playa de las Canteras to follow closely a unique show that every year captivates more people and continues to place Gran Canaria as a reference of water sports.

Book a surfing experience in Gran Canaria

Temperatures in Gran Canaria in December

Streets of Gran Canaria| ©fse_reizen
Streets of Gran Canaria| ©fse_reizen

Temperatures in Gran Canaria in December average 18°, with highs of 25° and lows of 12°, although it is rarely less than 15°, so despite being winter, it is a warm time to visit the island.

December is also a rainy month, although the humidity helps to reduce the hot days, which can be suffocating.

Tourist flow in Gran Canaria in December

Tourist Buses| ©tigercub66
Tourist Buses| ©tigercub66

December is the beginning of the high season in Gran Canaria, but it is still a month with a low influx of tourists, at least until Christmas, so it is an ideal time to visit the island and make some of the best excursions from Las Palmas

From mid-December until March, the influx of tourists increases considerably, so if you plan to stay until those dates I recommend that you book your excursions in advance.

Prices in Gran Canaria in December

Person Paying| ©Towfiqu barbhuiya
Person Paying| ©Towfiqu barbhuiya

October, November and December are the best months to travel to Gran Canaria from an economic point of view, as you can get deals due to the low tourist influx.

If you book in advance, you can also get discounts and other benefits, although the situation changes from mid-December and January, when prices in Gran Canaria start to be those of the island in the high season months.

What to pack to visit Gran Canaria in December

Travel luggage| ©Swansway Motor Group
Travel luggage| ©Swansway Motor Group
  • Bathing suit
  • T-shirts
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable urban footwear
  • Trekking shoes
  • Waterproof pants
  • Summer sweaters
  • Sunglasses
  • Light coat