The Holy Week Malaga: Celebrating Easter in Malaga

Easter and the Holy Week in Malaga are an unforgettable experience. 

Catholicism runs deep in Malaga and the whole city comes alive to remember the death of Jesus and to celebrate the resurrection. 

The celebrations that take place during Holy Week in Malaga are famous throughout Spain and visitors flock to the city from all over the world to enjoy a unique and memorable festival. 

About the Holy Week in Malaga

A silver throne in a parade, depicting Virgin Mary. It is decorated with pink and white roses arrangements.

Semana Santa in Malaga is celebrated in the week running up to Easter. 

The exact date for Easter changes each year according to the full moon calendar but Easter usually falls between late March and mid April. 

Festivities start on Palm Sunday and continue every day (except Easter Saturday) until Easter Sunday. 

Throughout the week there are cultural and religious events, street performers and live music.

However, the highlight of Holy Week in Malaga are the Easter processions, officially known as the Parades of the Brotherhoods. 

Visiting Malaga during the Semana Santa

A throne depicting the body of Jesus being taken off the cross. It is carried by a lot of men dressed in black.

Malaga is exceptionally busy during Semana Santa. Accommodation prices soar and you may find yourself staying further out of the city. If you plan to visit Malaga during Easter, make sure you are booking your accommodation well in advance.

It is advisable to use public transport during the week, and once you see the crowded streets of the city, you will be glad you did. 

Don’t let the crowds and prices put you off spending Easter in Malaga as the Easter processions are a fantastic, not to be missed cultural event. 

What are the Easter Processions?

A close-up of a man in one brotherhood. He is wearing a purple costume and pointy mask, covering his face.

The Easter Processions are large, often noisy parades of religious icons through the streets of Malaga. The tradition is hundreds of years old. 

The parades of flotillas (or ‘tronos’) are held by different ‘brotherhoods.’ The city has 42 brotherhoods (called cofradias) and there are 45 parades during the Semana Santa in Malaga.  

Each brotherhood wears a different coloured outfit. Men who are not carrying the thrones wear a ‘nazareno’, or penitential robe. Women wear a black dress and a ‘mantilla’, a black veil over the back of the head and shoulders secured by a high comb (peineta).

Every parade starts with a ‘guiding cross’ (Cruz de Guia) which is followed by the ‘standards’ of the Brotherhood and the nazarenos. 

A close-up of a throne depicting Jesus on the cross. It is dark and there are a lot of candles around the statue.

This is followed by two enormous thrones. One throne depicts an episode from the story of Christ’s Passion whilst the second throne depicts an image of the Virgin Mary (a ‘dolorosa’). 

The thrones, or pasos, are extremely heavy, with each one weighing around 3 to 4 tons. These thrones are elaborate works of art and many date back centuries. Over 200 men (called costaleros) are needed to carry each throne and to be a costalero is considered a great honour. 

The processions are accompanied by three bands consisting mostly of bugles and drums that play religious songs (saeta) and all the Semana Santa parades in Malaga follow the same procession route. 

Which are the Best Easter Processions in Malaga?

A close-up depicting Virgin Mary, with a lot of candles in front.

There are processions each day during the Holy Week in Malaga, with Palm Sunday hosting the most processions of the week – nine in one day.

The following parades are my pick of the unmissable processions to watch during the Semana Santa in Malaga.

The Brotherhood of the Pollinica opens Semana Santa on Palm Sunday with a throne depicting the jubilant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The throne is accompanied by children carrying large palms.

On Holy Monday, the Promesas Brotherhood processes with one of Malaga’s most revered statues, the Captive Christ (El Cautivo).

The Virgin of Sorrows (Virgen de las Penas) is a procession on Holy Tuesday where the throne is covered in thousands of locally grown flowers. 

A close up of a few members of a brotherhood wearing white shirts and green masks covering their faces.

Holy Wednesday is the day when the oldest brotherhoods in Malaga hold their processions. Try to attend La Paloma (the dove), a procession by the Brotherhood of the Salesians. Their immense throne is the heaviest of all the thrones carried during Holy Week and it requires up to 280 men to lift it.

Holy Thursday hosts one of the most popular Semana Santa processions. Malaguenos (Malaga residents) flock to the Port of Malaga to watch the Spanish Foreign Legion troops arrive by boat from North Africa.

The Legionnaires then process in uniform, singing ‘Novio de la Muerte’ loudly, whilst carrying the Christ of the Good Death (Cristo de la Buena Muerte). 

On Good Friday, you can experience the eerie, and moving, silence during the Cristo del Santo Sepulcro procession. On this day, street and shop lights along the procession route are turned off which adds to the sombre atmosphere.  

Easter Sunday sees the last and biggest procession of Holy Week in Malaga, the Resurrection of Jesus. All the brotherhoods come together for this final procession. 

Where is the Best Place to See the Easter Processions in Malaga?

A throne showing Jesus on a donkey, being greeted by children.

The parades start from the headquarters of the Brotherhood hosting the procession but each parade follows the same route through the city centre. 

The parade starts in Alameda Principal and travels to Rotonda del Marqués de Larios (the Larios roundabout). The slow movement of the costaleros is signified by the drum beats of ‘La Marcha’ and by a single bell tolling. The parade then enters Marqués de Larios street, through Constitution Square and along Calle Granada. 

The entire route is just under one kilometre long but as the thrones are so heavy – and the crowd so dense – each parade lasts for hours. 

There are several seating areas and grandstands along the route with the largest grandstand situated at Constitution Square.

How to Reserve Seats for the Semana Santa Processions?

A throne depicting Virgin Mary, with a lot of candles in front.

It is not easy to reserve seats for the processions as the number of chairs available is vastly outnumbered by the number of people who want them.

Chairs or grandstand seats must be rented and reserved in advance online from the Cofradias Association website. Deadlines for applications apply. 

Alternatively, pick up a brochure of the parades and procession route from the Malaga tourist office and follow or watch the parades on foot for free.

You could also book a hotel room facing the parade route but prices will be higher than during other times of the year.

What is “Tribuna de los Pobres”?

A throne passing by, seen from a far. It is night and all the decorations are lit up.

“La Tribuna de Los Pobres” (Tribute of the Poor) is the name commonly given to an area where people can sit for free (or stand for hours) waiting for the thrones to pass by. 

It consists of a wide set of stone steps (a little like an amphitheatre) and it is located at the beginning of Calle Carreteria, just after the Aurora Bridge. Click here for the exact location.  

For more articles about Malaga check out the following:

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