There’s no other time of year when visitors and foreign residents have their eyes opened as much to the pomp and ceremony of religious tradition in Spain than Semana Santa (Holy Week). Across the country finishing touches are being made to this year’s events.
From Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday traffic through major towns and cities will be cut off to allow the solemn processions to pass through, sometimes up to seven times a day. The pungent aroma of incense and hot wax, the mournful melody of the trumpets and the spectacle of the swaying ‘tronos’, icons of tearful virgins and hooded brotherhoods are all part of the unique experience that is Semana Santa.
All small towns and villages have scaled-down versions of the bigger processions. However these still manage to demonstrate the strong religious convictions that are present throughout Spain but not always on view.
What is on view, besides the processions, is the increased security presence over Easter. As Spain is currently on level four alert for a terrorist attack, many towns and cities have had to bring in more officers to work alongside the Local and National Police and civil protection teams to ensure that everything goes smoothly over the Easter period. Marbella alone will have 250 officers on duty to cope with the influx of visitors to the town and is coordinating with taxis and bus companies to ensure minimum disruption. The police are also operating a campaign to monitor cars and their drivers during the processions.
Hotel owners are expecting a good Semana Santa with around 90 per cent room occupancy, up on last year, providing the weather forecast stays sunny. The weather is a big concern not only the hotels, but also for other tourist businesses such as the restaurants and bars. The beach bars along the coast are in preparation for a bumper Easter as is Estepona council which has rushed to top up the sand on the beaches that were eroded in the recent storms.
This year there are 1,000 more flights due to come and go from Malaga airport during the holiday week than last year. A total of 718,542 passengers are expected to use the airport this week.
Around 35,000 cruise passengers will also stop off in Malaga during Easter week on 15 ships.