This year Semana Santa is the week of April 9th-16th (ending on Easter Sunday).

Antigua, Guatemala is home to the largest Easter celebration of its kind in the Americas. Thousands of visitors crowd the cobblestoned streets to watch costumed processions, reenactments of the crucifixion, and other ceremonies.

The most vibrant part of Antigua’s celebration, however, is the brilliant carpets, or “alfombras” that cover the streets. Sand or sawdust is dyed different colors and interwoven with bright flowers, plants, and pine needles to create spectacularly intricate designs. Semana Santa Alafombras

The processions begin on Palm Sunday with hundreds of cucuruchas (the esteemed float carriers), dressed in purple robes, baring the weight of the several ton floats carrying images of Jesus and the Holy Virgin of Sorrows.

The cucuruchas do this as a penance for their sins but it also an important status symbol to be chosen to carry the floats. The processions continue throughout the week in memory of Jesus’ final days on earth. Every evening a funeral band plays outside the church and people gather for food and drinks.

On the afternoon of Good Friday the city and her devotees dress in black.  The city is wrapped in black crepe paper — buildings, trees, benches, light poles – all adorned in black paper. Thousands of black dressed mourners carry incense and lanterns through town, many of whom follow a man bearing the crucifix.

On Holy Saturday the processions are dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The floats are typically smaller and carried by women dressed in their finest. On Easter Sunday the celebrations reach a fever pitch of fireworks, singing and dancing as the city celebrates the Resurrection of Christ.

Semana Santa is an amazing time to visit Guatemala. The experience is unlike anything else in the world, breath taking on a daily basis. A word of caution however, it’s essential that you book your stay well in advance – a year in advance is NOT uncommon. Prices are at their highest this time of year but I can assure you, it is worth every penny!

Now go explore your child’s birth country!

All my best to each of you,


Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel designs Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of these Heritage Journeys is on family bonding, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Read more about her here >>

Pin It on Pinterest