If you are in Valencia during Holy Week and Easter do not expect highly decorated statues of biblical characters and scenes parading through the streets bringing the city to a halt, thick clouds of incense enough to resurrect Jesus once again, deafening sounds of marching bands or emotionally charged wailings of Saetas. All this is more representative of Andalusia with it’s epic and lavish processions or in Castile where processions tend to be just as grand but much more sombre in nature.
Valencia on the other hand takes a more low key approach to this crucial event of the Christian calendar.
WHAT TO SEE?
OK, I think we’ve established that Holy Week processions in Valencia are not exactly very grand but that does not mean that they do not have their own personal charm.
The main hotspot for processions is in the old fisherman’s quarter of El Cabanyal located next to the sea and port. These celebrations are known as Semana Santa Marinera (Maritime Holy Week) and it has been declared Fiesta of National Tourist Interest. There are processions day and night throughout Holy Week in all four parishes of the area but the most important ones are those known as collective processions. These are the following:
On Maundy Thursday there is an event known as Acto de la Profecia (The Prophecy) inside the Parroquia de Santa María del Mar (Parish of Holy Mary of the Sea) at 8.00pm and then there will be a simple procession to the sound of drums which will visit all the Sacred Monuments en route to the four parishes of the area. The procession is expected to end at around 10.00pm.
On Good Friday, the processions are much more spectacular than those of Maundy Thursday as apart from the parading statues there will also be many people dressed as biblical figures and there will be marching bands rather than just drummers. Processions start at 6.30pm and should finish around 1.30am at the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary).
- Itinerary: Calle Pintor Ferrandis – Plaza Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles – Calle Pedro Maza – Calle Remonta – Calle Reina – Plaza Armada Española – Calle Dr. JJ Dómine – Avenida del Puerto – Calle Cristo del Grao – Calle Ernesto Anastasio – Calle Francisco Cubells – Calle Rosario – Plaza Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
There are also processions on Holy Saturday from 7.30pm onward but they are not collective processions.
And finally, on Easter Sunday there is joy in the air as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. There are fireworks and some people even throw water and ceramics from their balconies to express their heartfelt joy. The most important event is the Desfile de la Resurrección (Resurrection Parade) which differs to the processions because it is made up entirely of people and none of the statues that were paraded in the previous days. The parade starts at 13.00 and is expected to end around 14.30.
- Itinerary: Avenida del Mediterráneo – Calle Escalante – Calle Pintor Ferrandis – Plaza Iglesia Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles – Calle Pedro Maza – Calle Remonta – Calle Reina – Plaza Armada Española- Calle Dr. JJ Dómine – Avenida del Puerto – Calle Cristo del Grao – Calle Ernesto Anastasio – Calle Francisco Cubells – Calle Rosario – Plaza Nuestra Señora del Rosario.
For more information download the official 2018 leaflet here
WARNING: You’ll see many people in pointed hats but do not panic, it may look like the Ku Klux Klan has descending onto Valencia but I can assure you that they are not. These outfits existed centuries before the KKK; talk about unfortunate cultural appropriation.
IN THE CITY CENTRE
In the centre of Valencia there are a few other processions organized by various parishes but the most beautiful in my humble opinion is the rather unknown Processión del Cristo de las Penas (Procession of Christ of the Sorrows) celebrated on Maundy Thursday at Iglesia de San Juan del Hospital at 8.30pm.
- Itinerary: Calle Trinquete Caballeros – Calle Palau – Calle Avellanas – Calle del Mar – Calle Conde Montornés – Calle Gobernador Viejo – Calle Aparisi y Guijarro – Plaza Nápoles y Sicilia – Calle Trinquete Caballeros.
For more photos of this procession visit this Flickr Album
Traditionally, you are not meant to eat meat on Good Friday and as a child my mother would scold me if I did but I later found out that back in the days rich people used to pay a sum of money known as La Bula to the church so that they could eat meat without “offending” the Good Lord. Since then, I don’t suffer from Catholic guilt when I shovel Jamón Serrano into my gob on that day.
Some places in the city won’t serve meat and there may be traditional easter foods available instead but most places will serve meat, so you needn’t worry if you are an atheist carnivore.
Lunes de Pascua (Easter Monday)
Traditionally Easter Monday is a family day where people get together in a park or by the beach to enjoy a type of dried sausage known as Longaniza de Pascua and eat the Mona de Pascua which is a type of sweet bread decorated with easter eggs. Nowadays, the eggs tend to be made of chocolate but before they were just whole boiled eggs. In some families they also play a game where they smash eggs on people’s foreheads. Apart from eating, the skies of Valencia will be filled with kites as it is one the most traditional days to “empinar el catxirulo” or fly a kite, as it is known in the local language. Following Easter there will be the popular Festival del Viento (Sky Festival) where you can see professional kites on the beach.
UPDATE MARCH 2018: The Festival del Viento has been cancelled this year due to lack of funding. In its place there will be a more low key event with kite flying workshops and exhibitions for children. It will take place on 7th – 8th April from 10.00am – 8.00pm