Holy week in Antigua is the largest celebration in the Western Hemisphere and second only to Seville Spain. The highlight of being in Antigua for Easter week is to see the many processions. There can be several in a day. The streets are blocked off beforehand so the neighborhood can complete the amazingly elaborate and colored alfombras or carpets made out of colored sawdust. Flowers, flower petals, pine needles, fruit, seeds can also be found on some of the carpets. The people who make them take great pride in their designs. However, as soon as the processions pass the street sweepers are not far behind.
The processions were amazing particularly the ones on Good Friday. Originating from the many churches the processions were led by Roman soldiers some on horseback. The large floats, some weighing 7,000 lbs. were carried by 80 or more people. Thousands of processional carriers known as cucuruchos participate in the processions. Many are members of a brotherhood and have carried the statues since childhood. Men carried floats of Jesus while women carried the Virgin Mary. Often somber music was played by a small group of musicians. As the floats were so heavy the carriers were replaced almost at the end of each block. These somber events sometimes went on for twelve or more hours. Some started early in the morning and others started late and ended in the middle of the night. I could hear the drum beats often in the distance from my hotel room.
The newspaper estimated that there would be 1 million visitors for Semana Santa in Antigua. Though many of these people were not frequenting the nicer hotels and restaurants it is wise to book your reservations early.
I used Elizabeth Bell at Antigua Tours to plan my trip to Antigua plus all side trips. She handled my airport transfers and all hotel reservations. She also wrote the best guide on Semana Santa and leads tours throughout the week. So make sure you contact her to help plan your trip.