When not participating in a specific Holy Week event, there was plenty of the city itself to keep me busy – the Real Alkazar, a royal palace built in the Moorish style, or the Fabrica de los Cigarillos, once a store-house for all the tobacco brought to Spain from the Americas and (tobacco being then more valuable than gold) guarded at gunpoint. La Fabrica is still so famous within the city that it sponsors one of the confraternities and boasts its very own procession. The armed guards are there no longer. But Seville’s historic past lives on in the costumes and ceremonies of its principal festival.
Semana Santa takes place from March 24 to April 1 2018. Easyjet, Ryanair and Vueling all fly direct to Seville from UK airports.
Spain - four unmissable festivals
Las Fallas – Held in Valencia in mid-March each year, las Fallas sees many larger-than-life street installations built largely of wood in the streets and squares of the town, often to historical themes or for comic effect, all dramatically burned on the last night of the festival. Expect loud fireworks displays and an enormous floral Virgin Mary to boot. www.visitvalencia.com/en
Feria de Abril – again in Seville, the “April Fair” is held two weeks after Semana Santa. What was originally an agricultural show is now a week-long explosion of Andalucian culture – dancing horses, flamenco dresses, sherry, parades, tapas – and very late nights. www.andalucia.com/festival/seville-feria.htm
Santiago de Compostela – The final destination of Europe’s most popular walking pilgrimage, the northern city of Compostela celebrates the feast day of its patron, St James the Apostle, each July 25, with thousands of young pilgrims and partying aplenty. www.santiago-compostela.net
La Tomatina – Held in Buñol in the province of Valencia in the last week of August, la Tomatina is quite literally the biggest food fight in Europe. The town centre is provided with limitless tomatoes that are then thrown in the course of one single afternoon by townsfolk and other visitors until all ends in a happy, tomato-flavoured pulp. www.tomatina.es/en
See here for La Tomatina tours on tournado.com