Preparations for Semana Santa

Final touches to the elaborate Semana Santa flowers © Michelle Chaplow
Adding the final touches to the elaborate Semana Santa flower decorations in Velez-Malaga © Michelle Chaplow

Preparations for Semana Santa

Guide to Holy Week / Semana Santa in Andalucia

Semana Santa in Andalucia is not only a religious event, it is also a tourist event. Thousands of visitors descend upon this region either to enjoy the Holy Week festivities in Andalucia or to take a much needed holiday from work. It is of utmost importance, therefore, that cities and towns have everything in order in time to greet them.


The weeks before Holy Week are a time of getting things in order in Andalucia with coastal towns scrambling to bring fresh sand to the beaches. In fact, mini political scandals can ensue if local officials are not able to pull the weight necessary to get the beaches properly decked out in time for Semana Santa.

City Centres

City workers must also put the finishing touches on the official routes and time schedules that processions will follow throughout their urban areas as well as co-ordinate police and other security forces that will be working throughout the holiday. And - very importantly - they must reschedule the night time cleaning crews and have extra reinforcement on hand to deal with the mess and debris that will inevitably be left behind as larger than life crowds descend upon their historic centres.


It is not unusual for municipal authorities to set up theatre style seating along some main avenues as well. These seats must be booked in advance - often far in advance and are just one more form of income for city coffers, which is probably why so much care and attention is invested in this venture.


Semana Santa in Andalucia

Once again at the heart of it all, of course, are the cofradías, the local Catholic groups that work so hard throughout the year to prepare for Semana Santa in each and every Andalucian town and city where processions take place.

These are the people who ensure that floats are properly maintained and that the historic figures that grace them are carefully preserved over time. These are also the people who even arrange for new clothes to be custom made for the elaborate Virgin Mary figures that will be paraded about. Everything, down to the last stitch on Mary's latest veil, is taken very seriously and prepared with great care and pride to be picture perfect for local press, residents and visitors.

The cofradías must coordinate their members to carry the cross and lanterns and bear the heavy floats. Bands and saeta singers must be lined up and ready to go (no the saetas are not always as spontaneous as the legends suggest). Everything must be planned and ordered and worked out - down to the last candle that will grace the Virgin's fiery float.

Semana Santa dates

Semand Santa dates for the next few years are in the info box on our Semana Santa home page

Guide to Holy Week / Semana Santa in Andalucia

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