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Holy Week (Semana Santa), Andalusia

  • Andalusia, Spain

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 11 March, 2024

Holy Week (Semana Santa) celebrations take place throughout Andalusia.

Every afternoon, over the course of a week, pasos (floats), with life-sized tableaux from Christ’s Passion, are borne through the streets accompanied by the nazarenos, members of the religious brotherhoods, anonymous in robes and wizard-like hat masks.

In between march solemn bands, whose music is sometimes punctuated by spine-tingling saetas (solos) sung by the faithful. Many women dress in black, with beautiful lace mantillas.

But the unique atmosphere also includes secular carousing in the bars; special meals feature cod, and Semana Santa pastries are sold for the occasion.

Don’t miss

The most thrilling moments are when the brotherhoods exit the church to the ringing of bells. The foreman gives the cry for the paso to be lifted onto shoulders, the music begins and off they go.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: Palm-Easter Sundays
Duration: 1 week

Getting there & doing it

The biggest, most crowded and elaborate Holy Week Processions is in Seville, featuring 115 pasos, including the famous Virgen de la Macarena.

Malaga hosts the second biggest fiesta after Seville. Usually, Malaga-born Antonio Banderas attends, hidden under his hood.

Granada also puts on passion plays alongside the processions; the setting, with the Alhambra and snow-topped mountains, is exceptional. Cadiz hosts another major celebration, full of extravagant Baroque floats and fervour.

Over the course of the week, there are as many routes as brotherhoods (timed carefully so none collide). Local business hand out schedules and maps; ask at your hotel when you arrive.

In Seville, many take the official route taking in Plaza de las Campanas, Calle Sierpes, Plaza de San Francisco and part of the Avenida de la Constitucion. In some places you can hire chairs; do try to arrive at least an hour in advance on a route to get a good spot along the street.

Wherever you watch, book your hotel months in advance to be sure of a room in the city centre.

When to do it

There are processions in each city every day between Palm Sunday and Easter Saturday. The daytime processions usually run from 4pm to 8pm; others (from 8pm to midnight, when you are more likely to hear the saetas).Good Friday is the most solemn, reserved for the most important pasos.

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