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Easter in Barcelona 2024

Easter in Barcelona, this celebration comes early this year, so make sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss it! Although this would be difficult, considering how important of a holiday it is in the city- from Semana Santa to Good Friday to Easter Sunday, and all of the unique and beautiful celebrations they bring, the season of Easter in Barcelona is truly something you’ll never forget. 

 

While we list many of the formal festivities planned throughout the holidays, being able to experience the ambiance of Easter in Barcelona during this time can be equally as memorable. Consider simply walking through the streets of some of the more celebratory areas. Experiencing the joy and passion of the people and the way businesses decorate can be fascinating. Plus, you never know what you might stumble on!

Easter in Barcelona

Bank holidays

Semana Santa in barcelona

Semana Santa is the holy week, and it takes place from the 24th to the 31st of March this year. Semana Santa in Barcelona starts with Palm Sunday. 

Easter in Barcelona

Palm Sunday

Catalan: Diumenge de Rams

Spanish: Domingo de Ramos

Semana Santa

The name stems from the tradition of the parade of people holding palm leaves in remembrance of the greeting Jesus got a week before his death when he arrived in Jerusalem. On this day, godparents give their godchildren palm leaves. These palms are traditionally blessed by a priest during Palm Sunday masses (called “Bendición de la Palma”) and children are supposed to keep them at home until the following spring, when the palms will be burned. The ashes will then be used by priests to draw a cross on people’s foreheads to mark the beginning of the week.

 

It is also common practice on Palm Sunday for boys and girls to carry different palm leaves– boys typically carry “palmónes,” or taller stalks, while girls’ “palmas” are shorter, and have crosses woven on them. You’ll probably see the palms sold with small bags of sweets or toys tied to them, as well as the Catalan “senyera” flag. They’re sold in markets throughout Easter in Barcelona, notably outside the Barcelona Cathedral and the Sagrada Familia.

Maundy Thursday

Catalan: Dijous Sant

Spanish: Jueves Santo

While Maundy Thursday isn’t considered a public holiday, the day hosts a strange but fascinating procession for anyone willing to make a day trip to Verges, a village near Costa Brava. La Procesión de Verges,” also called “La Sansa de la mort,” “La Danza de la Muerte de Verges,” or “The Dance of Death,” celebrates the final judgment after death before a soul is sent to heaven, hell, or purgatory. It consists of drums, scythes, ashes, clocks, skeletons, and robes, to give you an idea of what to expect. Despite its weird premise, the parade is very popular, and is watched by thousands of people every year. 

Good Friday

Catalan: Divendres Sant

Spanish: Viernes Santo

The second most important day of Semana Santa in Barcelona is Good Friday. The streets are paraded with large floats carrying religious figures. The procession is followed by hundreds of worshippers. The greatest site to see Good Friday processions is outside Barcelona Cathedral, where there are generally a lot of events between 4 and 11 p.m. It should not be confused with the Sagrada Familia, as it is a basilica rather than a cathedral.

Easter Saturday

Catalan: Dissabte de Pasqua

Spanish: Sábado Santo

On the Saturday of Semana Santa in Barcelona, you’ll find most things to be open and running as normal. People prepare for the following day’s festivities, stocking up on food and other necessities. There are still quite a few processions throughout the city, however, if you know where to find them. 

Easter Sunday

Catalan: Diumenge de Resurrecció, or Diumenge de Pasqua

Spanish: Domingo de Resurrección, or Domingo de Pascua

Easter Sunday is a day of joyous masses and religious processions. The Barcelona Cathedral serves as the focal point of the festivities. This day marks the conclusion of Lent and the beginning of a feast that is often celebrated with Mona de Pascua. For most Catalans, this dish is a delicious way to commemorate Easter in Barcelona. In Spanish, ‘pascua’ means Easter, while ‘mona’ comes from the Arabic word “munna,” which means “gift.” Godparents are expected to provide such a gift to their godchildren on Easter Sunday as well.

Processions During Easter in Barcelona 2024

As we mentioned before, the processions are some of the biggest highlights of Easter in Barcelona and Semana Santa in the city. Filled with elaborate costumes, dancing, music, and intricately-made decorations, the processions are unforgettable and so unique to Catalan culture. If you’re in town, these are definitely events you don’t want to miss.

Processó de la Burreta

The Procession of the Burreta, or Little Donkey (“Processó de la Burreta”) honors the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem and marks the start of Semana Santa in Barcelona festivities. It starts and ends at la Parroquia de Sant Agustí (Plaza Sant Agustí, 2) in the Raval neighborhood, and will pass through Carrer de l’Hospital, La Rambla, Carrer de Santa Ana, Av. del Portal de l’Àngel, Carrer de la Cucurulla, and Carrer de la Portaferrissa along the way. It is known for its traditional bleached palm leaves.

Processó de la Bona Mort

The night of the Procession of the Burreta, you’ll find the Procession of the “Bona Mort,” or “Good Death” starting and ending at the Major Parish of Santa Anna (carrer de Santa Anna, 29). This parade, as per its name, honors the divine death of Jesus Christ. It follows along Carrer de Santa Ana, Portal de l’Àngel, Plaça Nova, Avinguda de la Catedral, Carrer dels Boters, Plaça del Pi, Carrer Petritxol, Carrer de la Portaferrissa, La Rambla, then back to Carrer de Santa Ana.

Via Crucis de la Sang

The Via Crucis de la Sang parade, or the “Way of the Cross of Blood,” starts and ends at the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi (Plaza del Pi, 7). It goes from the Basilica to Carrer de la Palma, Carrer dels Banys Nous, Carrer del Call, Plaça Sant Jaume, Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de la Pietat, Plaça de Sant lu, Pla de la Seu, Carrer de Santa Llúcia, Carrer del Bisbe, Plaça de Cucurulla, and back to the Basilica again.

Processó de la Mare de Déu de les Angoixes

The Processó de la Mare de Déu de les Angoixes, or “The Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows,” starts and ends at the Església de Sant Jaume (carrer de Fernan, 28). It makes its way along Carrer de Ferran, Plaça Sant Jaume, Carrer del Bisbe, Avinguda de la Catedral, Carrer dels Boters, Carrer del Pi, Plaça del Pi, Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, and La Rambla on its route. 

Processó de Nostre Pare Jesús del Gran Poder i María Santíssima de l’Esperança Macarena

Finally, the Processó de Nostre Pare Jesús del Gran Poder I María Santíssima de L’Esperança Macarena (a mouthful, it means “Procession of Our Father Jesus of Great Power and Mary Santíssima of L’Esperança Macarena”) begins and finishes at la Parroquia (Parish) de Sant Agustí (Plaza Sant Agustí, 2) in the Raval neighborhood. It passes by Carrer de l’Hospital, La Rambla, Santa Ana, Portal de l’Àngel, Arcs, Plaça Nova, Avinguda de la Catedral, Carrer dels Boters, Carrer del Pi, Plaça del Pi, and Carrer del Cardenal Casañas along its way.

Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is always packed with people, but this is especially so during Semana Santa in Barcelona! The Basilica offers a plethora of Easter-related events during this week, but the religious services, concert, and illuminations are the biggest three to catch- even worth putting up with the big crowds for. 

Religious services for Easter at the Basilica

International mass on Sunday mornings at the Sagrada Familia is always free and open to the public, working on a first-come first-serve basis. Starting at 9am, the mass usually fills up fast, and people have to wait in line for sometimes hours beforehand in order to get a seat. The services on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are also open to the public, and although they are even more crowded than normal, it’s still fascinating and incredible to experience, even if you’re not religious. It’s recommended to get there early, if you plan to attend mass on one of these days, so that you may get a spot. 

It is also important to note that there is a dress code at mass! It is listed here, and is pretty typical of a Catholic service. Mainly, do not wear shorts or any sort of revealing top. It is seen as disrespectful to dress casually or in a revealing manner in the Basilica. 

Easter In Barcelona Concert

The Sagrada Familia also offers a concert every year. This past year, it was hosted by Orfeón Donostiarra, an amateur choir institution. The Basilica did a drawing, and gave 300 of the almost 16,000 entries tickets for two. This coming year, it will be hosted on Friday, March 22nd, at 7:30pm. The concert will take place with the Granollers Chamber Orchestra, the Amics de la Unió Children’s Choir, and the Granollers Chamber Choir. They are performing two of Bach’s four passions, based on the gospels of Matthew and John. 

 

Similar to last year, the Sagrada Familia invites all interested to register for a raffle to get tickets. Registration is open from March 11th at 10 a.m. to March 17th at 9 p.m., and there will be 325 winners, all of whom will receive tickets for two. On Monday, March 18th, the list of the winners will be published on the Sagrada Familia’s website. Make sure to register!

Illuminations of the Passion façade

The free light show hosted by the Sagrada Familia, projected onto the Basilica itself, is open to all and not one to miss. Last year’s was hosted twice a day for the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Semana Santa, and was made to honor a deceased priest and Auxiliary Bishop of Barcelona. This year is similar, hosted on March 24th, 25th, and 26th twice a day, at 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. The 8 p.m. show is conducted in Catalan, and the later one is in Spanish. The light show will be musically narrated with the texts of Mons. Javier Villanova, Auxiliary Bishop of Barcelona, on the Passion facade. 

Food

Cod

The cod, or “bacalao,” tradition in Spain originates from the lent practices in the 16th century. During this time, and centuries after, Spaniards were required by the Catholic Church to stop eating meat during lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter). To still get their protein, most people resorted to cod. It was an especially common practice among the lower classes, due to cod’s cheapness and easy ability to be preserved in salt. 

 

Today, this class separation no longer exists. People of all upbringings eat cod in many ways around Semana Santa and Easter in Barcelona in celebration. Prepared the traditional Catalan way, cod is found dried and torn in a vegetable salad. This dish is called “esqueixada,” in Catalan, coming from the Catalan verb “to tear.” You might also find cod smoked, cured, or salted, depending on the preparer. Regardless, if you’re celebrating Easter in Barcelona, any method is definitely worth trying!

Mona de Pascua

The traditional mona had a circular shape and was filled with hard-boiled eggs. The number of eggs might range from two to twelve, reflecting a child’s age. Local children generally get their first communion at the age of twelve. Modern monas, on the other hand, are more varied and sometimes include complex chocolate embellishments, as well as crème brûlée fillings, cream, or butter. The top of the cake is decorated with miniature chocolate eggs and chicks, small dwellings, cartoon figures, and coloured goose feathers. Mona doesn’t necessarily have to be sweet. Sometimes it is substituted with savoury products.

 

A wonderful Easter dessert may be purchased from the nearby bakery. The Eixample neighbourhood has some of the most beautiful chocolate window displays. Mona de Pascua is traditionally offered on Easter Sunday but only consumed the next day, Easter Monday.

La Passió d’Olesa de Montserrat

This event recalls and tells the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not simply a theatre show that makes this event so special, it is the fact that people have held on to this tradition for centuries. The ‘Gran Teatre de La Passió has been the location of the event ever since 1952. This year the event will be different from previous editions. There’s a completely new show that is more modern and only about two hours long. If you’re not able to attend the show in person, then you can also watch it on TV with Spanish or English subtitles, so it might be the perfect way to also test your Spanish skills a bit.

Traffic jam

It’s definitely worth noting that Easter in Barcelona brings lots of traffic! At the beginning of the festivities, you’ll find both Barcelona residents choosing to leave the city and tourists entering the city. Then, Easter Monday, the reverse. It’s so famously bad that locals have a name for it: “la operación salida,” or “operation exit,” at the beginning, and then “la operación retorno,” or “operation return,” at the end. Estimates place around half a million cars leaving Barcelona during this break. 

 

To avoid the jams, it might be smart to consider using public transportation as much as possible during this time. There are plenty of trains and buses that offer sufficient routes to wherever you might want to go. 

 

Additionally, due to all of the parades throughout the city, it can be hard to navigate the streets even walking. We recommend informing yourself on some of the bigger parades and processions prior to Semana Santa in Barcelona, so that you can both attend and enjoy, and avoid if you need to get somewhere in a timely manner. 

Things to do

Celebrations in Barcelona

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