Semana Santa, Seville (March 2018)
As Easter celebrations go, Seville’s Semana Santa (Holy Week) is certainly one of the most spectacular.
Every year, for one whole week, the centre of Spain’s fourth largest city comes to an almost complete standstill. As thousands of women, children and men in pointy hats march through the streets with giant floats carrying life-sized figurines of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
What is Semana Santa?
A week of processions (religious parades), dating back to around the 16th Century, dedicated to celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Every day up to nine processions, made up of up to 3,100 people, wind through the streets of Seville – some taking up to sixteen hours to complete.
Semana Santa is the ultimate way for local people to exhibit their passion and commitment to their faith.
Who takes part in Semana Santa?
Around 60-70 local cofradias (church brotherhoods) take part in Semana Santa, practising for months beforehand. Each brotherhood has up to 3,100 people.
Nazarenos, march behind or in front of processions, wearing pointed hats.
Thirty to forty Costaleros (generally, men with redraw necks wearing white and blue vests and headscarves) carry hefty ice-cream van sized floats (misterios) with life-sized figurines of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, depicting scenes from the Bible. They are usually accompanied by brass bands playing sorrowful hymns.
Why do they wear those pointy hats?
The eery-looking headwear was created so those repenting sins could do so anonymously. It is completely unrelated to the KKK despite looking unnervingly similar.
When is Semana Santa?
This year, Semana Santa went from Sunday 25th March until Sunday 31st March 2018.
What else do I need to know?
- Some processions go on throughout the night, until the early hours.
- If you get stuck in a procession you might be there for a while.
- Don’t wear t-shirts and shorts during Semana Santa.
- On Good Friday women don mantillas (lace headwear) and dress in black.
- Nazarenos give out sweets to kids on the way around.
- Children make wax balls from drippings from candles of Nazarenos.
- Incense is burned during processions so you might smell them before you see them coming.
- If you want to visit next year, book up early as accommodation goes fast and is expensive.
- Maps and schedules are given out throughout Semana Santa so you know where to see processions.
Check out the gallery below.
Photographs by Oliver Bushnell and Adam Turner