The Backpackers Guide to Holy Week in Seville

Holy Week
Picture: Dani Cardona / Reuters / Corbis

Celebrating the Easter weekend in Seville is a vivid and memorable experience for backpackers. During Semana Santa (Holy Week) people across the Spanish speaking world will be remembering the last week of Jesus’ life.

A major part of the Holy Week experience is repenting your sins. People reflect upon their mistakes and wear costumes to hide their appearance. Don’t try to talk to the marchers, as they are not allowed to speak to visitors during the processions!

Holy Week will see thousands of medieval hooded figures, marching behind life-sized religious effigies to the sound of trumpets.

Semana Santa Sevilla

Members of cofradías, or brotherhoods, wear a nazareno consisting of a pointed hood to hide their faces. It might look slightly scary, but Semana Santa (Holy Week) is an extraordinary cultural event for backpackers and represents one of Spain’s largest festivals.

Seville Cathedral

Seville is the centrepiece of the Holy Week and it takes place from March 29 to April 5 2015. With superb budget accommodation and cheap hostels available in the city centre, it’s a spectacular time to visit Andalucia. Up to a million visitors will descend upon Seville for Holy Week, which will be packed full of colour and pageantry throughout Easter.

Holy Week Seville

Seville Holy Week

Dating back to the 4th century, Holy Week sees up to 3000 nazarenos (the hooded figures) marching through the streets, as the processions make their way from parish churches to the cathedral. Each of the 50 brotherhoods (cofradías) have two floats, so you can just imagine the sheer scale of the occasion.

Seville line-of-penitentes

Backpackers staying in Seville will feel the intense affection, especially for the Maria effigies, where confetti and flower petals are thrown by adoring revellers throughout the city. A procession can range in size from a few hundred to around 3,000 and will last anywhere from 3 to 14 hours, depending on the distance of the brotherhood parish in relation to the Cathedral.

Making the best of Seville’s Holy Week 

Try not to rush from procession to procession. A large procession means it can take over an hour to cross the road so there is no point rushing.

Also you will be standing for long hours, so visitors are advised to wear sensible footwear and remember it’s impossible to see everything. There are over 50 processions during Holy Wee so don’t worry if you can’t see them all.

Where to stay in Seville during Holy Week

Oasis Urban Lodge Seville

Ideally you want to be on the official route, with a window or balcony onto the street; alternatively, the areas of Santa Cruz, El Arenal, Alfalfa and Alameda are all close to the cathedral; Nervion is further away but you’re more likely to find a room there.

HostelsClub Favourites 

  • Oasis Backpackers’ Palace Seville is a trendy youth hostel only a few minutes walk from the Cathedral, Alcazar palace, and some of the best sites for backpackers: the Alfalfa, the Alameda and Calle Feria market. Rooms are available from €27.20.
  • Sevilla Inn Backpackers is a city-centre youth hostel only 100 metres from the Cathedral. Popular with backpackers and low cost travellers, it has superb facilities and free Wi-Fi for all guests. Rooms are available from €26.52.
  • Trotamundos Youth Hostel is situated in the heart of the city centre. With their multi-lingual staff and free Wi-Fi it’s a superb place for backpackers. Rooms are available from €20.89.