Are you wondering how to survive Holy Week in Seville with children? There’s nothing to worry about.
Yes, the city will be packed and you’re going to find crowds everywhere.
But not 24/7!
Overall Seville is a very family friendly city and that definitely shows during their Holy Week.
So don’t be afraid to bring your children with you. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it if you have them participate in the local traditions.
The Cathedral and Giralda Tower are closed to visitors in the afternoon during Semana Santa.
Secure your visit getting your skip-the-line tickets in advance! You’ll access the Cathedral, the Giralda and the Iglesia del Salvador.
Unfortunately, and regardless of what you may have read, Semana Santa and processions in particular are not made for children of all ages.
Please consider whether to watch processions or not with your children, according to their age:
As I said before, this is the most important week of the year. So Seville will be full of people.
As a parent you surely understand that some risks may arise. That’s why I’d like to give you several practical and safety tips to keep in mind if you’re going to attend a procession with children:
If you plan to spend Holy Week in Seville with children I recommend looking for the less formal processions, which are well known for having many children nazarenos or take place in the afternoon.
Your children will be able to stand in the front row and ask for candies or stamps to the nazarenos, and it will make the waiting game a little bit less longer.
To help you out identify them, here’s a list of the less formal processions:
However, most of them have children that are part of the procession. So you should not limit yourself to the ones listed above:
You should definitely avoid the smaller streets in the center, and particularly those around the official procession as they can be packed. Apart from being suffocating, it can also be dangerous for small children.
While these streets are very crowded there are also plenty of open spaces and squares where you can navigate without much problem.
Moreover, there are plenty of areas outside the center where you can get away, or track down a lone procession in its neighborhood. The later should be your preferred option if you’re traveling with (very) young kids.
Here are a few examples:
One of my favorite traditions that involves children in Semana Santa is the wax ball.
When a child attends their first Holy Week in Seville they get to start their very first wax ball. At first, the ball of wax starts out very small. But as they attend Semana Santa, their ball of wax grows bigger and bigger each year.
In each procession nazarenos wander slowly while holding giant (and heavy) candlesticks. As the sun sets, the candles are lit.
That’s when the children waiting on the sidewalks for the procession pass by, hold their wax ball. Some lightly tap a nazareno on the arm to get their attention. Others ask whispering…
When the nazareno looks down, the child holds up their wax ball with a pleading look and politely asks for more wax. Usually, the nazareno grants the child’s wish, although it depends on how serious the brotherhood is. With a bit of luck the nazareno will take his lit candlestick and will very carefully pour the hot wax on the child’s wax ball. Little by little the child adds more wax to their ball, making it slightly grow as the night goes on.
Each child’s wax ball tells a personal story.
So if you want your children to have the same experience (and be distracted while you wait for the pasos), make a small ball with a piece of silver foil. It can even be a piece from the foil wrapping your sandwich! Little by little it will be covered by wax…
Another way of keeping your children entertained during the procession is asking nazarenos for a gift.
Although quite hidden, nazarenos have little presents inside of the pockets of their robes.
These pockets hold all sorts of different things – hard or gummy candies, small cards with pictures of the different brotherhoods’ Christ or Virgin Mary on them (these are called estampitas), little tokens or special medals with a religious symbol on them…
Ask your children to approach the nazareno with their hand extended, in hopes that he’ll give them a gift.
Some of them will just pass by without even looking, but most times a nazareno will stop, reach in his pocket, pull out a gift for that child, and put it in their hand.
Your child will be giddy with excitement as they unwrap their candy to quickly pop the sweet into their mouth, or start counting the pictures that they have received.
On your way back to your hotel ask your children how many trophies they hold into their pockets.
Strollers are also hit and miss, and while it would be easier in some cases without them Semana Santa is famous for having people sit just about anywhere they can – there are so many people in the streets and your legs get tired from just standing to wait to see certain processions.
A lot of people bring compact, foldable chairs (popular are the ones which are like a walking stick and then fold out as a little stool). So as much as your children may like to walk they will almost certainly get tired enough that they will want to sit.
If your child cries out, don’t be embarrassed. You won’t be judged because Spanish culture is very welcoming and accommodating toward children.
Your child’s bladder is ruthless – when they need to go, they need to go.
Finding a public bathroom is no joke during this busy holiday week. If the situation arises, porta-potties will be the most accessible option and will be spread throughout the downtown area.
Alternatively, go to a bar (one that lets you inside, as most don’t during these busy days) and user their restroom.
And please, as your parents probably made clear to you by the age of three, the only proper place to pee is in a potty. So keep the streets clean (no matter what you see other people doing).
You could be fined for public urination!
This article is part of a complete tutorial on Semana Santa in Seville where you can read all the information you need to organize your experience during this magical and unique week.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. Semana Santa dates in Seville
2. What are Seville’s Holy Week processions?
3. Easter activities: daily schedule of Semana Santa processions
4. Holy Week Seville: What to see each day
5. Live Semana Santa in Seville as locals do
6. 9 tips to make the most out of Easter in Seville
7. When to visit the home churches during Easter (Seville)
8. How to survive Holy Week in Seville with children
9. Semana Santa hermandades (brotherhoods)
10. Semana Santa glossary