Easter in Antigua Guatemala is a colorful display of traditional culture and folklore. The festive streets are filled with movement. It is an incredible insight into the spiritual life of Guatemala. Easter Week in Antigua Guatemala is the biggest and most beautiful festival of Latin America! This week is greatly anticipated by the locals, as well as visitors. During these days, huge processions wind their way through the streets of the city. Visiting Antigua during Holy Week gives you an extraordinary and unforgettable cultural experience.
Antigua Guatemala was declared a National Monument by the Guatemalan government in 1944, a Monument of the Americas by the General Assembly of the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History in 1965 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The religious activities give this period a unique touch. Travelers from around the world have the opportunity to appreciate the religious faith of the solemn processions with their beautiful carpets and images. The mixture of art and tradition interlace with the aroma of incense, myrrh, sawdust and the colorful fruits and vegetables that bring to life the unequaled rugs that are made for the processions to walk on. The images are carried on the shoulders of the rhythm of funeral marches of known Guatemalan composers.
This tradition is carried out in many parts of the country like in Western Guatemala, where the processions are combined with live presentations of the crucifixion of Christ.
Each location contributes its special vision to this religious rite that has been maintained from generation to generation in the country.
The Guatemalan imagery is vas and sublime. Its many expressions are exhibited during Easter Week, carried on the shoulders of loyal men and women as a reminder of their legacy. It is normal to get lost in the sweet expressions of the image of La Merced church or to share the pain of its brow, split by the tribulations of the just as Miguel Angel Asturias wrote in a poem.
The apparel of the participants in the processions is without a doubt part of the attraction of Easter Week. The apparel varies depending on whether the community is indigenous or ladina, the chapel they belong to and their standing in their congregation.
During Lent and Holy Week, in all of the churchers in the country there are Temporary Exhibits illustrating the feeling and thinking of the different cultures united by the Christian faith. Some of these beautiful altars represent passages from the Bible and are for didactic use.
Made with beautiful flowers, and tropical fruit arrangements, the altars are decorated with vivid imaginations, colors and sounds that enhance the magnificent images with impressive results.
The beautiful Rugs seen during Holy Week are made from flowers, sand and dyed sawdust representing a Catholic tradition that has become a popular art from throughout Latin America, especially in Easter in Antigua Guatemala. This art form is probably from the XIV Century and evolved from another art form of planting foliage, rosemary, yellow and blue flowers and carnation and rose petals on the route of the amazing processions.
The most elaborate and splendid carpets are in Easter in Antigua Guatemala. They are made from colored sawdust and are decorated with baroque Christian symbols.
Guatemalan gastronomy is very vast during Holy Week. Meals are prepared mainly with chicken and shellfish like dry fish and Vizcaina fish and fowl. Sweet dishes are typical of this season that begins on Ash Wednesday.
During Lent and Holy Week the environment is filled with hymns, praises and meditation, suitable for this time. Musical interpretations of a special genre of different ethnic groups in the country express the sentiments of the people and their religious values.
Coral and instrumental music are essential during the lavish processions. However, local artists perform special concerts. In the villages, hymns and praises are sung when the processions pass by determined important places. There is always an unique musical band accompanying the processions playing marches. Its repertoire includes funeral marches by great local teachers from the romanticism period as well as classics from Beethoven and Chopin.
Today we will pick you up from Guatemala City Airport and bring you to Antigua, Guatemala to see the first procession of the festival.
After dinner we will be able to observe one of the most interesting parts of the festival, when the locals make the carpets.
Entire families in the neighborhoods work together making carpets. Most people work the whole night to be able to have the carpets ready for the next day. It will be very interesting for you to witness how people work with so much dedication and commitment.
This morning will be a great opportunity to observe a big amount of carpets, since the night before a lot of people did not sleep to finish them on time. In the afternoon our guide will show you the cathedral, the most beautiful churches and ruins. After this tour we will go to the Hill of the Cross in a short hike. From this place you will have a beautiful view of the four volcanoes and the city Antigua. During the rest of the day we will be able to observe how the processions will go through the carpeted streets of Antigua.
Holy Friday is the most important day of Holy Week. Today you will be able to see the best carpets and the most impressive processions.
At 6:00 PM people will go to central park to wait for the biggest procession of the week, there will be a special ceremony in front of the cathedral. This is the biggest celebration of the festival and something that you should not miss.
One of the highlights of this trip is the volcano Pacaya. Early in the morning we will depart for this hike, where you will have the chance to see running lava. We will depart at 6:00 AM and come back by noon. In the afternoon you will have various opportunities to see processions of Holy Saturday.
Today we will see the happiest procession of Holy Week. It is full of flowers, fruits, colors and happiness. We will take you by shuttle to the airport of Guatemala City for your flight back home. If you would like to spend more time in the country, let us know and we would be more than happy to assist you.