Semana Santa - or Holy Week - is a huge event in Spain. Taking place in the week before Easter it is the celebration of the passion of Jesus Christ in the Catholic religion. Down south in Andalucia is where the most dramatic celebrations take place, with the most glamorous and spectacular Semana Santa celebrations of all found in the provinces of Malaga and Seville.
Here are our five favourite places to celebrate Semana Santa in Andalucia:
This is probably one of the more modern Semana Santa celebrations as Nerja is a very international town. The combination of traditional and modern elements mix wonderfully, though: the parades meander around the beautiful streets of the old town to the spectacular church at the Balcon de Europa where the music is loud and the crowds are enthusiastic. The Nerja brass bands are one of the highlights of the whole week - you'll hear them coming, that's for sure.
Antequera celebrates Semana Santa in a very traditional way and on a smaller scale than many of the bigger cities. The parades are quite serious but the atmosphere is electric and is very family-orientated. Many of the activities are at night and go on until the early hours. All the written records of the past celebrations have been preserved in Antequera, whereas in so many other towns and cities they have been lost.
Half the fun of being in Granada city over Easter week is the chance of running into people practising for the main events - running across a band wandering the streets is something quite special. On Holy Wednesday there are massive fires lit in the caves of Sacromonte but one of the more endearing events of the week is on Easter Sunday where there's a procession involving children carrying ceramic lanterns which jingle as they walk.
Seville celebrates Semana Santa like no other: the processions start on Palm Sunday and end on Easter Sunday. There are processions every day, and they're on all the main streets and take place at night. Arrive early to get a good spot as it will be busy. Some of the parades in this city set out at midday and slowly make their way around the city to arrive back 14 hours later.
Last but by no means least is Malaga city. It's one of the main fiestas of the year and they do it in style. More than a million visitors from all over the world come to Malaga during holy week to join in the celebrations in an amazing atmosphere. There are scheduled route plans and timetables for all the events, available at street kiosks and other shops, so you don't miss out on the best festivities.
In Andalucia this Easter? Check out the latest offers available on our hire cars.