Semana Santa is one of the most important fiestas in the Spanish calendar and this year takes place from 30th March to 8th April. Every city, town and village will have its own way of celebrating this religious festival.
They are proud of their secular past and many places start the week off with early-morning processions with the participants dressing up in sumptuous coloured clothes.
Holy Week in Cartagena
Like many towns, Cartagena and its people take this celebration very seriously and everyone seems to take part, including many relatives and visitors. The early morning processions are marked by the perfect synchrony of the cortèges, the wonderfully colourful robes and the amazing carved images which are produce by the local people. There are processions during the whole week, the most striking being on the Holy Wednesday (known as Californios). The Friday morning procession depicts the meeting of the 'Christ of the Fishermen' and his mother the 'Virgin Mary'. This takes place in the Plaza del Lago (Marrajos).
Holy Week in Lorca
The exceptional originality of Lorca's Holy Week lies in the succession of traditional processions, with their carved images and penitents, together with a Passion procession in which passages from the Old Testament are enacted, all of this with notable reminiscences of the former festivities of Corpus Christi and baroque religious theatres. The enacted biblical cortège takes place every Good Friday. This is truly magnificence and the processions are the result of the secular rivalry of the two most charismatic confraternities: the Whites, dedicated to Our Lady of Bitterness, and the Blues, who worship Our Lady of Sorrows.
Holy Week in Murcia
Easter celebrations start on the Friday before with the procession of the Most Holy Christ our Refuge (Santísimo Cristo del Amparo), one of the youngest confraternities in the city. Of note are the processions on Holy Monday, with the confraternity of Christ of Forgiveness (Cristo del Perdón); Holy Wednesday, with the popular procession of the coloraos and their Christ of the Blood, and Good Friday morning, when the unmistakeable sculptures of Francisco Salzillo take to the streets. Murcia's Holy Week is marked by its baroque character, the huertano-style attire of its penitents, and the traditional custom during the processions of handing out sweets to friends and acquaintances.
La noche de los Tambores in Mula and Moratalla
From 3-8th April these towns in the north-west of Murcia celebrate the Passion amid the incessant pounding of drums. The tamboristas will have been practising for weeks prior to this festival. In Mula they are played from twelve o'clock midnight on Tuesday to four o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, to continue on Friday morning and Easter Sunday from twelve o'clock midday to nine o'clock at night.
Bando de la Huerta in Murcia
10th April is the big day of the city's Spring Festival. The day begins early, with a floral offering to Our Lady of the Fuensanta, the patron saint of the city, before the baroque façade of the Cathedral. Thousands and thousands of Murcianos and visitors, dressed in typical huertano costume, accompany the Virgin after a short visit of the city centre. In the afternoon these same crowds will bring life to the grand cavalcade, through the city's streets, of ox-drawn carts, floats from which broad beans, black puddings and bread rolls are thrown to the crowd and folk bands from each and every one of the huertano associations.
Entierro de la Sardina
14th April sees the Burial of the Sardine Festival. This is the, the climax of the Spring Festival, and is Murcia's wackiest night of the year. During the procession of about 20 floats, people dressed up as 'gigantes and cabezudos', torch-bearers and entertainers, will throw hundreds of thousands of euros worth of toys into the crowd. There are various brass bands marching through the streets and on the eve of the Burial, the Testament of Doña Sardina is read from the balcony of the Town Hall. To round off the evening, a papier-mâché effigy of the Lenten sardine is burnt in Plano de San Francisco amid public rejoicing.