With three weeks to go until the heady Easter double bank holiday weekend and Arctic weather battering our shores, it’s time to book a last-minute short break. We recommend Spain -- particularly the Andalucian cities of Seville and Malaga, which are famous for their Semana Santa (holy week) celebrations.
Taking place the week before Easter and culminating on Good Friday, this giant pageant is a strange, solemn fiesta with a properly authentic and medieval feel -- all candlelight, ancient and macabre costumes and spiritual fervour. Pilgrims dressed in robes and hoods carry huge floats through the city -- a Virgin and a Christ for each religious brotherhood -- to a soundtrack of marching bands, drumming and high trumpet refrains, winding and slipping through the streets for hours while shouldering religious icons that weigh several tonnes.
The less devout locals pre-book a chair along the roadside or dine at restaurants that overlook the busiest streets -- but if you find yourself hard-pressed to secure a last-minute reservation, don’t despair. The best place to take in the action is amid the throng on the street, where you can feel the heat, see the bubbles of sweat on the penitents’ strained muscles and smell the incense clouds left in their wake.
Convinced? Click here for some Spanish holiday inspiration.