Semana Santa with a colourful touch

| Anke Hendriks

This week in Latin America is all about Semana Santa. I first became acquainted with this week during my studies in Spain. I saw a procession in Puebla, Mexico. And a few years later, during my trip through South America, the Stations of the Cross of Jesus Christ was recreated around the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa, Peru. But I definitely would like to experience Semana Santa once in Antigua, Guatemala. Here the sad story gets a colourful touch.

The most important week of the year

Whereas in the Netherlands Easter is nowadays mainly dominated by Easter eggs, in Latin America it has a much greater meaning. The week before Easter here is called Semana Santa (Holy Week) and is for Catholics one of the most important periods of the year. Throughout the week there are feasts and extravagant processions to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a sad and sometimes dramatic event, but undoubtedly very special to experience. Everybody is completely surrendering to this event this week and daily life is completely at a standstill. If you know how temperamental the Latinos are, imagine with how much dedication this week is celebrated.

Incense, drums and colourful works of art

The week before Easter is celebrated extensively throughout Latin America. For a truly unforgettable and cultural experience Semana Santa in Antigua is an absolute must. There is no other city in the world where this week is celebrated more extensively than here. Streets are filled with incense with the sound of drums in the background. Through the cloud of incense the procession appears. A group of men carries a large platform with images of the Saints on it. Wearing this platform, also known as a float, used to be considered penance. Today, it is seen by many as a privilege. There are even some processions that last more than 18 hours.

A colourful touch

The most special thing about Semana Santa in Antigua is that remembrance gets a colourful touch here. The streets are decorated with colourful carpets of sand, sawdust and flowers. These carpets are also called alfombras and they are really beautiful works of art. Already months in advance families make a design and the preparations take place. One day before the procession takes place the construction of such a beautiful coloured carpet is started. However, the work of art isn't there for long, because the procession is meant to run over the carpet and wipe away the colours. As soon as the procession is over, a new work of art for the next procession will be started on another spot.

Experience Semana Santa in Antigua?

Would you like to see Semana Santa next year? We are happy to help. Please keep in mind that you need to start planning your trip on time. During Semana Santa thousands of people travel to this place and hotels and flights are therefore fully booked in no time. Would you like to know more about this or do you have another question? Feel free to contact us. Call +31 73 200 55 27 or send an e-mail to We are happy to help.

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