Easter is a popular and very special time of the year to walk the Camino de Santiago. During Easter Week or ‘Holy Week’ you will be a witness to centuries-old traditions full of emotion along the way, many of them unique to each town.
One of the most important Easter festivals in Galicia take place in the coastal city of Ferrol, starting point of the Camino Inglés or English Way. The English Way was the route traditionally taken by pilgrims from the North, mainly Britain and Ireland, on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Having travelled by boat to Northern Galicia, they would continue their journey on foot to complete their Camino.
Starting on Palm Sunday and finishing on Easter Sunday, impressive processions take place most days during ‘Holy Week’. However, the most important dates in the Easter calendar remain Holy Thursday and Holy Friday (Good Friday), also holiday in most of Spain.
Start your Easter on the Camino journey in Ferrol and take part in some of the most spectacular Easter processions in Galicia before setting off.
Arriving in Ferrol on ‘Holy’ Thursday, you will have the opportunity to attend the evening procession. Spend Good Friday in Ferrol to experience the dramatic ‘Holy Encounter’, the striking ‘Procession of the silent ones’ at midnight or any of the other eight events taking place today, the most important date of the Easter calendar.
Having spent two nights in Ferrol to witness its classic Easter festival, you will start your Camino de Santiago journey on the Camino Inglés, following in the footsteps of many Irish and British pilgrims who have taken this trail since Medieval times.
The first couple of walking days to Pontedeume and Betanzos will offer you great views of the Bay of Ferrol. You will be staying in Pontedeume and Betanzos, two lively towns with charming historic centres and their own Easter celebrations and traditions. After Betanzos, you will head inland towards a more rural area of Galicia on your last stretch towards Santiago de Compostela, where you will be able to apply for your ‘Compostela’ pilgrimage certificate.
The port city of Ferrol is one of the starting points for the Camino route traditionally taken to Santiago by pilgrims from Britain and Ireland (the English Way or Camino Ingles) but is also widely known for its spectacular Easter traditions, the famous ‘Semana Santa de Ferrol’.
Starting on Palm Sunday and finishing on Easter Sunday (or Resurrection Sunday), the ‘Semana Santa de Ferrol’ hosts 25 processions, reenacting the passion and death Jesus in walking parades across the city. These colourful and impressive religious parades are organised by five ‘cofradías’ (fraternities) based in the city. Each ‘cofradía’ has assigned specific statues of saints (also called ‘pasos’ or steps), parades, as well as its own colours and symbols.
Holy Thursday (Xoves Santo or Jueves Santo) and Good Friday (Holy Friday, Venres Santo or Viernes Santo) mark the highlights of Easter Week in Ferrol, when the most important processions are on display, such as the meeting of Jesus with Mary before the Crucifixion on Good Friday (Santo Encontro, Holy Meeting).
Some of the religious figures or ‘pasos’ used for these processions are real artwork pieces, in many cases dating back to the XVII, XVIII and XIX centuries, and carefully kept and restored over the years by fraternity members.
One of Ferrol’s oldest ‘pasos’ is the one used for the procession called ‘Os Caladiños’ (meaning the little silent ones in Galician), taking place close to midnight on Good Friday.
It is also one of the most striking parades: while most processions are accompanied by the solemn beating of drums, for ‘Os Caladiños’, people walk in complete silence, hence its name.