Semana Santa Processions Part 1: Palm Sunday to Good Friday – Antigua, Guatemala

This post is part 3 of 6 in the series Semana Santa in Antigua

Semana Santa starts on Palm Sunday and runs through Easter Sunday and the folks in Antigua, Guatemala cram a lot into that week with dozens of processions at all hours of the day and night and thousands of participants of all ages. The processions often overlap so you have to make hard choices about which ones to focus on.

Women selling special Palm Sunday decorations in front of the La Merced church in Antigua, Guatemala as Semana Santa begins.

The whole week is about telling the story of Jesus’ crucifixion which is symbolically re-enacted on Good Friday. During the processions between Palm Sunday and Good Friday (shown in this post) Jesus is everywhere and many people wear purple. Processions after Good Friday (which we’ll tell you all about in our next post) are more somber–Jesus is nowhere to be seen (until Easter Sunday) and purple clothing has been replaced by black.

The images in this slides show were taken during various processions in Antigua, Guatemala from Palm Sunday until the start of Good Friday.


One of the first Semana Santa processions we saw was a children’s procession–everyone gets in on the Easter action in Antigua.

We were lucky to find some space inside the San Felipe church on the fringes of Antigua where we got to see the very first moments of their procession as the enormous float, called an anda, was carried out of the church by 80 men. They’re walking over an elaborate carpet called an alfombra which the faithful created using colored wood chips, precise stencils and a lot of patience.

…huge float over a handmade alfombra “carpet” made of colored sawdust and out onto the streets of Antigua,

A Semana Santa procession from the San Felipe church begins inside the Santuario del Apóstol where 80 men carry a…

During most processions a float carrying the Virgin follows the float carrying Jesus. The Virgin’s float is always carried by women.

Everyone knows an army marches on its stomach. Men portraying Roman centurions take a break for lunch during a Semana Santa procession in Antigua, Guatemala.


The video, below, shows a procession leading up to Good Friday during Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala.

The enormous floats carried through Antigua during Semana Santa processions are awkward and heavy. Making it around tight corners as the processions move through town requires team work and exact choreography, as this slide show demonstrates.

Read more about Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

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Series Navigation:<< Semana Santa Processions Part 2: Good Friday through Easter Sunday – Antigua, GuatemalaHoly Street Art! The Alfombras of Semana Santa – Antigua, Guatemala >>

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5 comments on “Semana Santa Processions Part 1: Palm Sunday to Good Friday – Antigua, Guatemala

  1. These are amazing photographs. I so want to see this Procession one day. Each time I read your posts I want to explore Central America more. Thanks for the information.

  2. I have been in beautiful Antigua, now I also enjoyed the celebration through your wonderful photos.
    Thank you!

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