Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. Semana Santa in Spain is Holy Week and Seville is the place to be.
What happens during Semana Santa?
Brotherhoods from the city parade statues (pasos) of Christ and the Virgin in various scenes from the Passion. Events reach a crescendo the week before Easter with night parades on Maundy Thursday running into Good Friday. Many of the followers of the parade, including those carrying the pasos are hooded, adding to the surreal and gripping nature of the celebrations.
Best places to enjoy Semana Santa
Semana Santa is celebrated all over Spain, and each region will claim to offer a truer, purer version of the event. Malaga, Toledo and Segovia all also have enormously popular celebrations.
Hotels are often booked out years in advance and parade routes get extremely chaotic and crowded. For the best views, pick up parades as they leave their barrios (neighbourhoods) before the big crowds build up.
Celebrate Feria de Abril
Seville gets over Semana Santa at the Feria de Abril a week or two later. It is a colourful, noisy fortnight of eating, drinking, dancing and dressing up. The real action takes place around casetas – tents owned by families, companies or groups of friends. If you can get into one of these you’ll be getting closest to the Feria as locals celebrate it. Don’t despair if not – there are still huge public parties.