27 mar 2015

Semana Santa in Madrid: events and unforgettable day trips!

Semana Santa (Easter Week) is descending upon us rapidly and for many Madrileños this means one thing: Holidays! During this traditionally religious week, many friends and families head to the beach to get a bit of distance from their busy city lives but if you don’t have a fun trip planned, don’t worry: there are non-stop activities to enjoy right here in Madrid, as well as numerous exciting day trips!

Semana Santa became a national holiday during the religious fervor of the 1500s, but has a clear history leading back to the time of Christ. Now, the city celebrates in a lively, yet respectful, manner with traditional events as well as exciting new ones. This year’s Semana Santa schedule features continuous live music, three dramatic processions, art exhibits, and numerous plays throughout the theaters of the city!

Of these, the processions (the word parade doesn’t really fit these solemn, though musical, events) are by far the most visually interesting and unique to the holiday: hooded figures draped in various  colors carry delicately crafted statues of religious figures through the streets of Madrid to the tune of beautiful, subdued music. You should definitely try to observe one whether you’re new to Madrid or have lived here for years!

The schedule and routes for this year’s processions are as follows:

Activities in Madrid

First Procession: Nuestro Padre Jesús del Amor
  • Date/Time: domingo 29 de marzo de 2015 - 16.30
  • Place: Parroquia de San Sebastián
  • Address: c/ Atocha, 39

Second Procession: Santísimo Cristo de la Fe y del Perdón

  • Date/Time: domingo 29 de marzo de 2015 - 19:00
  • Place: Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel
  • Address: c/ San Justo, 4 

Third Procession: Nuestro Padre Jesús de la Salud 

  • Date/Time: miércoles 01 de abril de 2015 - 20.15
  • Place: Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen y San Luis
  • Address: Calle Carmen, 10

Exciting Day Trips

Beyond Madrid’s city center, Easter week events continue to keep Spanish residents busy. If you’ve been meaning to visit one many historic cities surrounding Madrid, this may be the perfect opportunity: a few vacation days + ancient cultural events = the experience of a lifetime! Here are a few things happening within an easy train ride from Madrid:


Segovia is only a 20 minute train ride from Madrid (then hop on bus 11 to the center of the city) and boasts a very exciting line up of events, second only to Madrid itself. Throughout the week these medieval streets will be filled with continuous processions and music, and there is plenty to see in between: Segovia boasts an Alcazar (palace) that looks not unlike the Disney castle, an ancient roman aqueduct, and an enormous cathedral. Thursday, April 2nd is the day with the most happening, so hop on the train and we’ll see you there!

Alcala De Heneres 

Still within the range of Madrid’s cercanias trains, Alcala de Heneres has an fun activities this week, though slightly fewer than Segovia. Beyond the Semana Santa, Alcala is home to one of the world’s most famous universities and its city center is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Finally, this small city was the home of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, which gives strolling among these historical streets a whole new depth of feeling!  Alcala has at least one event per day starting Sunday, March 29th.
abundance of


Toledo’s ancient architecture, stemming from three major religions building side by side, provides an aw-inspiring background for this holy week. With these Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic influences earning it UNESCO world heritage status, you are sure to find something that speaks to you along these hallowed alleyways and grand plazas, and there are events happening almost daily starting on Friday the 27th of March. Only a thirty minute train ride from Atocha, Toledo is a city you won’t want to miss!


This cliff top town offers fewer events than those previously listed, but has some breathtaking views processions, a day trip to this little community is sure to leave you with a deeper understanding of Spanish culture and traditions.
and architecture to make up for it! For those industrious travelers who have already visited the other options mentioned, Cuenca may be for you: With a series of daily, solemnly quaint


For those of you looking for something less religious, would you believe it if we told you there was great skiing only a 30 minute train ride from Madrid (with kids riding for free)? Well, here’s the evidence! If you’re hoping to get a few runs in before the warm weather stays for good, then head up to Navacerrada for a day trip (or stay over): fun for couples, friends, or the whole family! For more information, visit their website.

Finally, after a week of intensive Spanish culture, Semana Santa may inspire you to buckle down and get serious about your Spanish so, as always, just give us a shout and we’ll set up some classes for you!
Happy Semana Santa from AIL Madrid!

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