Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala
27 – 31 March, 2024
Experience the vibrant celebration of traditional culture and folklore during Antigua Guatemala’s Holy Week. Immerse yourself in the spiritual life of Guatemala as you witness the lively processions that fill the streets. This festival, the largest and most beautiful in Latin America, is eagerly awaited by locals and tourists. Prepare to be amazed by the massive processions that snake through the city streets this week. Visiting Antigua during Holy Week promises an extraordinary and unforgettable cultural experience.
UNESCO Humanity’s Intangible Heritage
The religious activities give Holy Week a unique touch. Travelers from around the world have the opportunity to appreciate the religious faith of solemn processions with their beautiful carpets and images. The mixture of art and tradition interlaces with the aroma of incense, myrrh, sawdust, and the colorful fruits and vegetables that bring to life the unequaled rugs made for the processions to walk on.
HOLY WEEK IN ANTIGUA GUATEMALA
Locals carry the images on the shoulders of the rhythm of funeral marches of known Guatemalan composers. This tradition exists in many parts of the country, like in Western Guatemala, where there are live presentations of the crucifixion of Christ besides the processions. Each location contributes its exceptional vision to this religious rite maintained from generation to generation in the country.
World’s Most Beautiful Holy Week Celebration: Antigua Guatemala, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Holy Week in Antigua offers a spectacle worth a visit whether or not you celebrate Easter. -Forbes Magazine.
The Guatemalan imagery is vast and sublime. Its many expressions are exhibited during Easter Week, carried on the shoulders of loyal men and women as a reminder of their legacy. It is normal to get lost in the sweet expressions of the image of La Merced church or to share the pain of its brow, split by the tribulations of the just as Miguel Angel Asturias wrote in a poem.
The apparel of the participants in the processions is, without a doubt, part of the attraction of Easter Week. The dress varies depending on whether the community is indigenous or ladina, their chapel, and their standing in their congregation.
During Lent and Holy Week, in all of the churches in the country, temporary exhibits illustrate the feeling and thinking of the different cultures united by the Christian faith. Some of these beautiful altars represent passages from the Bible and are for didactic use. The altars are decorated with vivid images, flowers, tropical fruits, and sounds that enhance the magnificent images with impressive results.
The beautiful carpets seen during Holy Week have flowers, sand, and dyed sawdust representing a catholic tradition that has become a popular art form throughout Latin America, especially at Easter in Antigua Guatemala.
This art form is probably from the XIV Century and evolved from another art form of planting foliage, rosemary, yellow and blue flowers, and carnation and rose petals on the route of the impressive processions. The most elaborate and splendid carpets are in Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala. They are made from colored sawdust and have baroque Christian symbols.
Guatemalan gastronomy is very vast during Holy Week. Meals are prepared mainly with chicken and shellfish. Sweet dishes are typical of this season that begins on Ash Wednesday.
During Lent and Holy Week, hymns, praises, and meditation fill the environment suitable for this time. Musical interpretations of a unique genre of different ethnic groups in the country express the sentiments of the people and their religious values. The choral and instrumental music is essential during the lavish processions.
However, local artists perform special concerts. In the villages, locals sing hymns and praises when the processions pass by determining essential places. There is always a unique musical band accompanying the processions playing marches. The repertoire includes funeral marches by great local teachers from the romanticism period and classics from Beethoven and Chopin.
A driver will pick you up from Guatemala City Airport and bring you to Antigua Guatemala, to see your first procession. After dinner, we will observe one of the most exciting parts of the festival, when the locals make the carpets.
Entire families in the neighborhoods work together, making carpets. Most people work the whole night to prepare the carpets for the next day. Witnessing how people work with so much dedication and commitment will be exciting.
We will start the day with the best coffee in the world. Step into the shoes of a Guatemalan coffee farmer. On this tour, you will hike through coffee fields, harvest beans, and learn to process and roast the coffee with traditional tools. End the experience by making your fresh cup of coffee.
This morning will be an excellent opportunity to observe many carpets since the night before. Our guide will show you the cathedral, the most beautiful churches, and ruins in the afternoon. After this tour, we will go to the hill of La Cruz for a short hike.
From this place, you will have a beautiful view of the four volcanoes and the city of Antigua. During the rest of the day, we will observe how the processions will go through the carpeted streets of Antigua Guatemala.
Good Friday is the most important day of Holy Week. Today you will see the best carpets and the most impressive processions. At 6:00 p.m., people will go to central park to wait for the enormous procession of the week; there will be a special ceremony in front of the cathedral. It is the festival’s most significant celebration and something you should not miss.
One of the optional activities of this trip is the Volcano Pacaya hike. Early in the morning, we will depart for this hike, where you will have the chance to see the running lava. We will leave at 6:00 a.m. and come back by noon. In the afternoon, you will have various opportunities to see processions.
In the evening, we have an optional Salsa workshop. A visit to Guatemala would only be complete with a crash course in salsa dance. The instructors will tailor the dance class to your ability level. You will dance away with some valuable skills to take out on the city when you get back home.
We will see the happiest procession of Holy Week, full of flowers, fruits, colors, and happiness. A driver will take you to the airport in Guatemala City for your flight back home. If you would like to spend more time in the country, let us know, and we would be more than happy to assist you.
map, expenses & price
Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala
-All private transportation.
-Four nights of hotel accommodations.
-Professional local guides.
-Tours and activities as listed.
-Two traditional lunches.
The sauna is on a coffee farm amidst cypress trees. Before the sauna, we can take a half an hour’s hike in the forest and periodically pick up all the rubbish we find in the woods to contribute to the conservation of the area. You will take a classical outside wood-burning sauna, with hydrant drinks followed by a light vegan snack, all freshly prepared with a dazzling sight of the volcanoes. Duration: 3 hours.
Chocolate has a long history in Guatemala and its use and importance date back to Ancient Mayan civilization. In this workshop, you will learn about the rich history of chocolate and the process of taking beans to the finished product. Finally, you will make your own handmade, customized chocolates to take with you. Duration: 1 1/2 hours.