Semana Santa in SEVILLA
Strictly speaking this is a religious festival, but for most of the week, solemnity isn't the keynote - there's a lot of carousing and frivolity, and bars are full day and night with entire families, from grandparents to babes in arms staying up until three or four in the morning.
In essence, Semana Santa involves the marching in procession of brotherhoods of the church and penitents, followed by elaborate floats on which sit seventeenth century images of the Virgin or Christ. For months beforehand, the bands practice their short, fervent flamenco style hymns about the Passion and the Virgin's sorrows throughout the city.
Seville has various shops dedicated to the sale of Nazareno robes, including sandles and Capirote. Many of these shops can be found on the Calle Alcaiceria de la Loza. The cone shape Capirote are made to measure while you wait.
Throughout the week, the processions leave churches all over the city from early afternoon onwards, snaking through the city and back to their resting place many hours later. Good Friday morning is the climax, when the procession leave the churches at midnight and move through the town for most of the night. The highlight is the arrival at the cathedral in the early hours of the morning. On the Thursday, the local women wear black and it's considered disrespectful for tourists to wear T-shirts and shorts.
The final lap of the official route goes from La Campana to Calle Sierpes to the cathedral and around the Giralda and the Bishop's Palace. This is a good area to watch the processions. Grandstands are erected in the main squares, you may be able to buy a back row seat as the best sell out weeks in advance.
Without doubt the local heroes of the night are the lads who carry the thrones. Always hidden away in Seville, but you might catch a glimpse when they pop out for a well earned drink.
The processions take place during the week leading up to but not including Easter Sunday.
More info and dates in our Semana Santa section