Holy Week (or Semana Santa) is a big thing in Colombia. On the one hand you have the firmly Catholic contingent, who enjoy the opportunity to celebrate Easter. On the other? The party loving Colombians that get a week off work, head to the coast and let loose for a solid 5 days.
For the latter group, places like Taganga or Cartagena offer perfect destinations, but for those who’d prefer to enjoy the week in the fashion it’s meant to be, there are several places to visit to enjoy religious processions and festivals.
One such place is the country’s capital, Bogotá (especially this year, since the Teatro Iberoamericano Festival is on). While many opt to leave the big city for greener pastures during this period, many stay to celebrate Semana Santa in a traditional way: with family and at the church. But not just any church, of course. Many people head to Monserrate where there are processions throughout the week, all topped off by that famous view of Colombia’s capital city.
It’s worth noting that if you’re an avid meat eater, Semana Santa will be a troublesome time in Bogotá. Many restaurants refuse to serve meat over this period, and settle for fish as a possibly-more-delicious-in-my-opinion substitute.
The other place of note is Popayan, which is considered the religious capital of Colombia. In Popayan people take to the streets with candles throughout the entire week, while large processions pass through the streets carrying symbolic imagery. In addition to this, there’s a religious music festival that takes place, bringing in talent from the whole world.
Popayan is one of Colombia’s most attractive cities, regardless of Semana Santa’s extra draw, so it’s well worth visiting during this week to get an extra taste of the local culture. White-washed walls, cobble stone streets and the usual murmur of a town ‘plucked from time’ abound. It’s a great place to relax.
Whatever you taste, or whatever you choose to do, Semana Santa in Colombia is a great week. You need to plan a little, since accommodation is tough to come by, but with a little work you’ll be in for one of your best weeks in the country…