What is Semana Santa (Holy Week)?
Easter week in Málaga (in Spanish: Semana Santa ) is one of the most important cultural events of the year. This centuries old tradition is a key part of the identity of the city. Holy Week is a highlight on the calendar of every Malagueño.
The week is marked by between 5 and 10 elaborate processions that take place every day. The processions start and end from their brotherhood buildings. Then they weave their way around the streets of the historical city.
When is Holy Week?
It starts on Palm Sunday and ends the following Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. So, if you want to keep up you’ll need to find an itinerary. This shows the timetables and specific times of when each procession will pass certain points of the city. You can pick up an itinerary at the tourist office. As well, many local stores such as bakeries and pharmacies have them.
What do the processions look like?
Check out this video to get a feel for the Semana Santa of Malaga:
When are the processions?
The processions start around 3 p.m. and some finish as late as 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning!
Therefore, if you need to do things in the city centre from Monday to Friday (other than watch processions), you HAVE to do everything in the mornings. Because in the afternoons it’s show time!
With between 5 and 10 processions happening every day, they literally take over the streets. It can be very difficult to move around the city. Besides, most businesses close in the afternoons. Thursday and Friday are public holidays so all shops close on those days.
What are some ‘must-see’ processions?
Palm Sunday: According to the tradition, you have to wear brand new clothes for the occasion. You’ll see kids around the city waving palms when the very first procession of the week ‒La Pollinica‒ passes by.
Holy Monday: On Monday you can see the most popular procession in the city, El Cautivo, a.k.a. the Lord of Malaga. Its iconic image is everywhere in the city. Thousands of Malagueños walk behind the procession for the whole route.
Maundy Thursday: One of the most spectacular moments for the locals is the procession of Mena. Members of the Legion, an elite division of the Spanish Army are the participants and protagonists of this procession. The soldiers disembark in the port of Malaga the previous day. They do their unique fast march from the port and through the city. Thousands of the locals turn out to see their arrival.
Good Friday: This day the brotherhoods grieve the death of Jesus. Don’t miss the solemn Servitas procession which starts around midnight. The street lights are turned off as the procession goes by.
What else can I do in Malaga during Easter Week?
If all this can be a little bit overwhelming, maybe you want to get away from all the frenzy at some point. Then why not rent a bike and cycle away from the centre? Head out east or west along the coast to relax. Enjoy the beaches and chiringuitos of Malaga, which are usually quiet at this time of the year. Discover Pedregalejo, a charming fishermans neighbourhood just 4 km east from the city centre. (And please- don’t even think of taking your bike into the city centre- you will never get out!)