Easter week in Toledo

Religious Festival in Toledo

During the Easter week celebrations in Toledo, the Easter brotherhoods display remarkable skill as they navigate their statues through the city’s narrow streets. The processions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are particularly solemn and noteworthy. The city’s streets, monuments, and historic buildings contribute to a unique and special atmosphere, especially during the nighttime processions. On these auspicious days, attendees have the rare opportunity to explore the interiors of all the churches, convents, and monasteries, which are usually closed to the public throughout the year. These religious establishments open their doors to host various religious services as part of the Easter week program, providing a truly exceptional experience for those in attendance.

Easter week holds a special place in the hearts of the Spanish people, deeply rooted in history and tradition. This commemoration honors the passion and death of Jesus Christ and spans centuries of devotion. Throughout Spain, the streets of cities, towns, and villages transform into stages of religious fervor, combining grief and meditation to remember Christ’s sacrifice. Magical processions, filled with music, art, and vibrant colors, captivate the onlookers as they solemnly accompany religious images through the streets. Easter week stands as a powerful and moving expression of faith, drawing crowds of people to partake in this profound commemoration of Christ’s journey.

Visiting Easter week in Toledo

Address: Catedral Primada de Toledo, Calle Cardenal Cisneros, Toledo, Spain
Duration: 20 minutes

Corpus Christi Festival Toledo

Religious Festival in Toledo

Toledo comes alive during the grand festival of Corpus Christi in June, adorning its streets with splendour. This ancient and significant celebration, dating back to the 15th century, holds tremendous importance for the city. On this day, a solemn religious procession is led by the Archbishop of Toledo, who is also the cardinal primate of Spain. The city’s historic streets are beautifully decorated for the occasion, creating a mesmerizing setting for the event. The procession features remarkable elements such as the Monstrance, an exquisite piece of art crafted in gold and silver in 1515, weighing approximately 160 kilos. Alongside, various religious fraternities and guilds participate, adding a distinctive and traditional touch to the festivities. As the procession proceeds, the air fills with harmonious singing, the fragrant scent of herbs, and a fervent spiritual ambiance. Corpus Christi stands as Toledo’s most revered and oldest festival, captivating the hearts of all who partake in its majesty.

Five weeks ahead of the religious procession, the route in Toledo undergoes a breath-taking transformation. Awnings, wreaths, and lanterns adorn the path, creating a festive ambiance. The day before Corpus Christi, the city becomes a sight to behold, with walls, windows, and balconies adorned with antique pennants and tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries. The ground is sprinkled with aromatic herbs, infusing the air with delightful scents for the forthcoming celebrations.

At midday, the grand procession commences, accompanied by the joyful pealing of Toledo’s bells. The procession begins with the appearance of towering giants symbolizing different continents. Following them, the procession sets forth from the cathedral, carrying the revered Monstrance, accompanied by the religious guilds in order of their ancient origins.

For those interested in witnessing the spectacle, seats are arranged along the streets and can be reserved in advance at the Zocodover square booth. Additionally, the city’s mansions and stately homes open their doors to the public, offering a glimpse of their beautiful interior courtyards on Corpus Christi day. The festivities extend throughout the week with an engaging program of concerts, shows, and sports competitions, adding to the vibrant and celebratory atmosphere of this cherished event in Toledo.

Visiting Corpus Christi Festival Toledo

Address: Zocodover, Plaza Zocodover, Toledo, Spain
Duration: 24 minutes

San Fermín

Religious Festival in Pamplona

The festival of San Fermín is a week long, historically rooted celebration held annually in the city of Pamplona, Navarre, in northern Spain held in the second week of July every year. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honour of Saint Fermin, the co-patron of Navarre.

A firework starts off the celebrations and the popular song Pobre de mí is sung at the end. The festival involves many traditional and folkloric events with the most famous event is the running of the bulls, which begins at 8 in the morning from July 7 to 14. The running of the bulls is from the town hall where the crowd initially gathers to the bull ring itself.  People typically dress for the occasion in white with red handkerchiefs around their necks, and after the run the celebrations continue on the streets of Pamplona well into the night!

SaintFermín is said to have been the son of a Roman of senatorial rank in Pamplona in the 3rd century, who was converted to Christianity by Saint Honestus, a disciple of Saint Saturninus. Fermín was ordained a priest in Toulouse, and returned to Pamplona as its first bishop.

Visiting San Fermín

Duration: 20 minutes

Tamborrada / St. Sebastian’s Day

Music, Religious and Traditional Festival in San Sebastián

The 20th January is St. Sebastian’s Day and locals take that very seriously as  at midnight (19th – 20th) crowds pack Constitution Square, where the mayor raises the city’s flag to start 24 hours of non-stop drumming.  The drumming opens with the Sociedad Gaztelubide and representatives of other drum outfits who play to melodies by Sarriegui. Around 125 drum lines participate in the event every year, each bringing their own unique style and touch to the festivities.

Visiting Tamborrada / St. Sebastian’s Day

Address: Constitución Plaza, 143, 20003 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Duration: 24 hours

Fiesta de los Reyes

Religious and Traditional Festival in San Sebastián

Fiesta de los Reyes or Three Kings Festival is two day annual event held on the 5th and 6th of January to celebrate the Three Kings or Wise Men who followed the a star to the birthplace of Jesus Christ and brought gifts to him: gold, incense and myrrh.

Each city and town hosts its own parade on the eve of Three Kings’ Day, called the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos, to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings into Spain from their long journey. The Kings Melchior (Arabia), Caspar (the Orient) and Balthazar (Africa) march down the main street of the city, either on their camels or on elaborate floats. In some coastal cities, like Palma and Barcelona, they arrive by boat and then continue on to the parade. In others, they’ve arrived by helicopter.  The Three Kings come bearing gifts for all the children and parade throughout the local city, throwing sweets into the crowd.

The children leave a letter they have written out to the Wise Men to ask for what they would like to receive and then they leave shoes on windowsills or under the Christmas tree to be filled with their gifts. That night the children  leave three glasses of warm milk and sweets for each of the kings, plus some hay or grass for their hungry camels, so that they can rest for a while before continuing their travels.

The next morning, the previously empty shoe is hopefully filled with and surrounded by gifts, although naughty children may be left a lump of coal.

On the 6th, after the gift opening, traditionally people have breakfast with the Roscón de Reyes, a delicious round cake decorated with candied fruit, a symbol of the gems which adorned the Wise Men clothes. But careful, the cake contains two plastic wrapped figurines, a small king and a broad bean: if you find the king in your piece of cake you will have good luck for the rest of the year, if you find the bean you have to pay the cake!


Visiting Fiesta de los Reyes

Duration: 3 hours

Festival Internacional de Música Sefardí

Music and Religious Festival in Córdoba

Since 2002 the Festival Internacional de Música Sefardí or International Sephardi Music Festival has been held every year at the Guadalquivir waterside Botanical Garden of Córdoba. This week long festival was originally known as the Festival of the Spanish Jewish Network called  “Sephardic Paths”. It is a meeting place for enthusiasts of the Jewish culture where the people can get a deeper understanding of the different traditions of Sephardic culture. There are concerts of the musical genre by Spanish and international artists alternate and talks and conferences. During the festival spectators can enjoy drinks, tea, cakes and typical dishes in the Sephardi tavern.

Visiting Festival Internacional de Música Sefardí

Hours: 22:00 hours. Opening of the venue at 9:00 p.m.
Price: All concerts are free admission until full capacity is reached.
Address: CORDOBA Avenida Linneo, s / n 14004
Telephone: +34 957200077
Duration: 20 minutes

Semana Santa

Religious Festival in Córdoba

The Semana Santa is a commemorative celebration of the Passion of Christ in which the people manifest their faith publicly.  People around the nation celebrate this week with large processions with members of so called brotherhoods, bear adorned Jesus and Mary statues through the city’s streets. The processional parades give off the smell of incense and the dim light of the candles carried by the Nazarenes. The oldest statue visitors can look at is the statue of the Suffering Christ from the 13th century. Processions are joined by penitents and singers of religious flamenco chants, and the scent of incense can be smelt everywhere. Some of the brotherhoods may look back at several hundred years of history and tradition.

Traditionally, Easter festivities begin on Palm Sunday with “La Borriquita” procession. “La Borriquita” represents how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Each of the processions is to symbolize a certain situation during the way of the Cross.

Semana Santa in Córdoba

In Cordoba more than 30 of these processions occur, attracting many thousand tourists, as well as local residents. “Del Rescatado”, “Cristo de Gracia” and “Cristo de Ánimas” are among the most significant brotherhoods of Cordoba.

Semana Santa in Málaga

During Holy Week, 42 brotherhoods (cofradía) make 45 processions through the streets of Málaga showing realistic wooden sculptures narrating scenes of the events of the Passion of Christ, or images of the Virgin Mary showing sorrow.

Visiting Semana Santa

Duration: 20 minutes

Cruces de Mayo

Religious Festival in Cádiz

The Fiesta de las Cruces or Festival of the Crosses or Cruz de Mayo or May Cross is a holiday celebrated on the 3rd of May in many parts of Spain. It commemorates the crucifix on which Jesus was crucified and is believed to have its roots in the 4th century, when Constantine, son of Saint Helen, was helped in battle by a large cross.

The actual crosses which are around three metres high are made by the people of the neighborhood and the local town council runs a competition called the Concurso de los Cruces de Mayo to find the best cross.

Origin of the May Crosses

It is thought that the festival was brought to Spain by Romans and was originally a pagan festival. It has also been related to St Constantine’s mother, Saint Helen.

Legend has it that Emperor Constantine I, was loosing a battle with barbarians on the banks of the Danube. One night, Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky, and by it the words “In hoc signo vincis” which meant “With this sign, you shall be victorious”. The emperor had a cross made and put it at the front of his army, and won the battle. On returning to the city and learning the significance of the cross, Constantine was baptized as a Christian and gave orders to construct Christian churches.

His mother, Saint Helena, went to Jerusalem in search of the True Cross, on which Jesus died. On Calvary Hill, the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, she found three crosses. To discover the True Cross, she placed the logs over the sick and the dead to identify the cross that would cure or resuscitated them. St Helen then became a champion for the cross, urging people to continue worshiping it even after her death.

The actual date in the liturgical calendar that the Holy Cross Day is observed is the 14th Sept, yet the Crosses of May are celebrated on 3rd May in Spain.

Temporary bars

In the true spirit of Spanish fiestas a temporary bar is built in the same square as the cross. This is where the locals congregate each evening for a good few drinks and tapas which inevitably leads to spontaneous flamenco style dancing into the early hours. The temporary bars generate a good income during these few days which is used by local brotherhoods or cofradías and community groups to finance various local festivals including Semana Santa or Holy Week and the Feria de Cordoba or Cordoba Fair.

Cruces de Mayo In different Parts of Andalusia

In Andalusia you can find crosses in all of the provinces although it is in Cordoba and Granada where the most impressive displays are on show. In the true spirit of Spanish fiestas a temporary bar is built in the same square as the cross. This is where the locals congregate each evening for a good few drinks and tapas which inevitably leads to spontaneous flamenco style dancing into the early hours.


In Cordoba the Crosses of May celebration is combined with the Cordoba Patios competition. The festival consists of the construction of large crosses made of beautiful flowers in many of the city’s main squaresand usually 25 crosses take part. Some of the best neighborhoods to head for are San Basilio, Santa Marina and San Augustin.


It seems that the first celebrations in Granada of the Day of the Cross as they are known today date back to the 17th century. In 1625 an alabaster cross was made in the San Lázaro neighborhood and all the residents of the area celebrated it by singing and dancing with her. Later, the tradition was continued in the most typical neighborhoods, such as the Albayzín and the Realejo , and the children began to build small altars decorated with Manila shawls, ceramics, and copper objects.aw

In Cádiz the crosses are celebrated with evening verbenas and often patios are decorated in flowers also in nearby El Puerto de Santa María across the water.

In Almeria the crosses are located in places around the city center. In some larger towns there can be over 40 different ones to see. They are easy to locate as there are always people around them. In Seville the festival is still celebrated and in nearby Ecija where the children carry crosses along in processions.

In Estepona the festival is less traditional – some of the crosses have a more contemporary feel and are more experimental in the additional objects placed around the cross.

The Cruz de Mayo of San Pedro in Huelva is notable but there are others in Huelva province such as Rociana del Condado or in Bonares. You can also head to Jaén or Ubeda where the festivities are also popular.

Visiting Cruces de Mayo

Duration: 20 minutes

Velá de Santa Ana

Religious Festival in Seville

Velá de Santiago and Santa Ana is celebrated in Triana from 21st to 26th of July.  Velá Santana literally means, ‘Saint Anne’s evenings’, because Saint Anne’s day on the liturgical calendar. The festival dates back to the 13th century and is the city’s second most important festival after the Feria de abril de Sevilla.

The festival begins with the announcement in the inner patio of the old Hotel Triana and ends with a giant fireworks display that illuminate all of the Triana district and the Guadalquivir River.

During the festive days, the Triana’s bridge, the Altozano and the adjacent streets are filled with lighting and lanterns. Here people drink sherry wine and dance the sevillanas, a type of folk dance; eating roasted sardines is also a popular activity. During mornings, religious events, competitions and sports activities, exhibitions, contests, and screenings of movies in Santa Ana Square even a fishing competition are organized.

A popular tradition which takes place during the “Velá Santana” is the Cucaña whereby people have to grab a pennant from the top of a pole suspended over the Guadalquivir River. This is perfect way to cool off during the heat of the day and a great excuse to immerse yourself in the waters of the Guadalquivir River.

On the night of July 25 in the church of Santa Ana there is a traditional floral offering and fireworks are performed. At midnight there is a ringing of bells from the adorned tower, accompanied by the band of cornets and drums.

Origin of Velá Santana

To find the orogin of the festival must go back to the middle of the 13th century, when Seville became a Christian again and King Alfonso X was touched by the hand of the Virgin of Santa Ana, who cured him of an evil eye. In 1,266 he ordered the construction of a temple in Triana in honor of Santa Ana.

From then on, on the eve of the patron saint of Triana, on July 26 , the residents of the neighborhood and part of Seville would come to the church of Santa to keep vigil over the Virgin all night. The people of the city of Seville itself, who then had to cross the bridge of boats, to come to keep vigil and prostate themselves at the foot of Santa Ana. The church would be open all night but the young people did not stay there, they went to the riverbank, where they organized parties and swam.

The more recent history of the festival began in the early twentieth century with Manuel Garrido Pérez, deputy mayor of the City Council who introduced the cucaña in 1910. In 1980 was the first time that the festival started with an opening speech.


Visiting Velá de Santa Ana

Duration: 3 hours

Seville Semana Santa

Religious Festival in Seville

Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla. It is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals, the other being the Feria de Abril or April Fair, two weeks later.

Every day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, huge statues called pasos which representing various images from the Passion of Jesus Christ, are solemnly carried from the city’s churches to the cathedral, accompanied by processions of marching nazarenos or penitents.

Arrive near the cathedral in the early evening for the best views.

Parts of the Semana Santa tradition are common across the whole country however, most cities have their own twist to the festivities.


All the 115 churches in Seville has a hermandad or brotherhood associated with it. These are locals who are in charge of the social calendar of the church and the organization of the major Holy Week procession.

El Paso

The enormous pasos or floats, some of which are over 300 years old, that make up the procession make a pilgrimage through the city. Each paso is an representation of some part of the story of The Passion of Christ. A paso look like a huge, ornate table about 2 m high, with a velvet hem hiding both its legs and the costaleros from view. The pasos are made of wood, usually covered in precious metals, and are intricately worked and decorated.  They leave their church carried by the Costaleros, and make their way through the narrow streets to the Cathedral and back again. Sometimes the journey lasts for over 12 hours.

There are two kinds of pasosEl Cristo (Christ) and La Virgen (The Virgin). The pasos dedicated to El Cristo are usually floats covered in gold and the pasos dedicated to La Virgen are usually covered in silver.


Costaleros, so named because of the white protective garment el costal which they wear on their heads, they carry the paso supporting the beams upon their shoulders and necks. On average there are 40 ‘costaleros’ per float with each one supporting a weight of around 50kg for around 8 hours and they practice all year round, even in the extreme heat of August.  For the ‘costaleros’ who carry the float it’s a once in a lifetime honor to do so as the numbers wishing to be carriers far outnumber the places available.  Each year a special section of the hospital opens up to treat costalero injuries. If the processions are very long, costaleros will switch out every hour or two to take a bit of a break.

As the costaleros are totally hidden and packed, the capataz (overseer), located on the outside, guides the team by voice, or through a ceremonial hammer –el llamador or caller attached to the paso.

The costaleros try to move the paso according to the rhythm of the music, giving the observer the impression that the figures are literally walking.


Other participants in the processions include the nazarenos, who precede the pasos and march in silence, sometimes barefoot. They wearing perhaps the most controversial dress of the celebration, the capirote is a conical hood with eye-holes, which unfortunately does look like the dress of the K.K.K.!

The unique dress was born from a desire to repent sins without revealing your identity, as the hood leaves only the wearer’s eyes on display. There can be up to a whopping 3,000 nazarenos participating in some of the bigger processions.

Each brotherhood would wear a habit of a different color and sometimes this would occur within the same procession. They hold either long wax candles (cirios), a pole (vara), a standard or a lantern.

La Mantilla

Women wear this intricate headpiece towards the end of Semana Santa in Seville, usually Thursday and Friday. During the day you’ll see women dressed in black and with mantillas, beautifully woven lace veils are exceptionally detailed, in mourning of the death of Jesus. Women often seek professional help to fit them in place, as you have to weave your hair around the comb to keep it in place.

La Saeta

La Saeta is a traditional religious song you will hear at a certain point during the procession. This acapella singing is the most emotional thing for many locals. To sing the saeta is an honor, and only the best local performers get this opportunity. The entire crowd stands in complete silence listening to the song.

La Madrugá

The most significant night of the Semana Santa tradition is Holy Thursday leading into Good Friday. Madrugá coms from the Spanish word madrugada meaning early morning. Appropriate given processions run all night long through to the next day. One of the most important processions during this night is the Macarena, which also happens to be one of the biggest and most-watched of the whole celebration

The Procession

A procession is a religious parade with a designated route. Each procession has two or three pasos, one or two of them representing a scene of the Passion, and the other one an image of the Virgin Mary.

History of Semana Santa

Semana Santa is celebrated all over Spain and many people say it dates as far back as the 12th century. Seville’s first recorded Holy Brotherhood, El Silencio, dates back to the mid 14th Century, and the 18th and 19th centuries saw a revival in Holy Week. By this time, many of the statues carved of wood and sculpted of porcelain had become practical life-sized relics and are considered masterpieces.

Visiting Seville Semana Santa

Hours: Mar/Apr
Duration: 3 hours