Easter is a big deal in Spain. Photo: AFP
Whether it's a trip to see the tongue-in-cheek send-up of politicians at Las Fallas before a spectacular flaming finale in Valencia or slogging your way around the Barcelona marathon, there is plenty going on across Spain in the run up to Easter.
At the annual "festa més dolça," 60 tons of sweets are given away during a colourful parade in the historic Grácia district. Horse-drawn carriages and floats ride together down the streets, filling the fresh air with music, colour, and candy. Later in the evening, the procession comes to an end in the little Grácia gardens with a firework display.
The streets leading to the Castle of Javier fill with pilgrims during the first two weekends of March as thousands flock to honor San Francisco Javier.The spiritually-charged pilgrimage, stretching more than 50 kilometers, originated in the 19th century when the town evaded a cholera epidemic thanks to the saint's intervention.
Each March in Valencia, a vibrant celebration occurs in the name of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. In preparation for this internationally recognized festival, Valencianos spend months hand-crafting giant papier-mâché models satirizing current politicians and popular figures. The "ninots" are then paraded through the streets, before being set ablaze in a vivacious whirlwind of bonfires and spectacular fireworks. You haven’t really been to a bonfire party until you’ve experienced Las Fallas.
Every Sunday during Lent, 500-plus residents of Cervera don costumes and take part in a giant reconstruction of the Passion of Christ, a theatrical performance that goes on for almost six hours. This religious tradition originated in 1481 and has continued since. Fun fact: the local participants are not theatrically-trained; the only stage experience they’ve had is through this annual production.
Semana Santa (Holy week), nationwide, March 20th- 28th
Photo: Chema Concellón/Flickr
Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week, is a time when the entire country is transformed. Holy Week is the celebration of Easter, a deeply significant holiday in the lives of Spaniards. Happiness and spirituality permeate the air, evoked by the countless street festivals that are sure to take your breath away. Each city has different traditions, but all are sure to have a nice variety of concerts, parades, and artwork.
Champions League: Real Madrid vs. Rome, Madrid, March 8th
Will Ronaldo's Real Madrid beat Roma? Photo: AFP
Watch as the nation’s one of the nation's beloved football teams, Real Madrid, takes on the esteemed team from Rome. This marks one of the most important competitions of the year, as two of Europe’s best clubs face down in a memorable challenge.
Fitness fanatics can take in a bit of sightseeing along the way as the acclaimed route passes through the Olympic village, the foot of Montjuic, Gaudi´s Sagrada Familia and Barça FC´s Camp Nou. If you are participating, then don´t forget to 'carb up' the day before with a pasta party arranged by the race organizers.
Snowboard Cross World Cup, Lleida, March 19th-20th
Competitors from around the world are heading to northeastern Spain in March for fresh snow and the Snowboarding World Cup. It's an exciting spectator sport, and the aprés ski isn´t too bad either.