How to survive Holy Week in Seville with children

holy week in seville with children

Are you wondering how to survive Holy Week in Seville with children? There’s nothing to worry about.

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.

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.

1. What ages are the children you’re traveling with?

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:

  • Babies & toddlers (younger than 3 years old). Obviously, the final decision is yours, but I would strongly advise you against bringing such young kids to any procession. Processions can be loud, crowded and suffocating. Avoid having a hard time and look for other plans and activities.
  • Preschoolers (3-6 years old). Kids are such curious creatures at this age and interested in what’s going on in the world around them. That said, patience is the name of the game. If your preschooler is a napper at home, by all means, try to adhere to that routine on vacation. And plan as many breaks as they need! Don’t force them to stay on the streets longer than necessary.
  • Gradeschooler (6-12 years old). At that age, watching a procession can be an enlightening and eye-opening experience. They’ll create a lifetime of memories and they’ll have fun too. However, be prepared to be flexible too.
  • 12 or older. You won’t have any problem. Just enjoy the experience!

2. Use your common sense to enjoy Holy Week in Seville

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:

  • Establish a meeting point. Look for a spot or meeting point visible to everyone and explain to your child that he must stay there in case he’s not with the rest of the group or family.
  • Make sure your child can give your cell phone number. Make your child learn your cell phone number by heart or write in down yourself on his forearm so he can show it if needed.
  • Keep an eye on the children at all times. Try to always keep the children you carry very close to you and make sure you know where they are every step of the way.
  • Bring plenty of water and food. You’ll find shops and bars along the way, but it’s always easier to carry some supplies with you especially because you’ll avoid wasting a precious time waiting in line along with other dozen people. Provide enough water and food (e.g. fruit, cereal or chocolate bars, nuts, etc.).
  • Check the weather conditions before heading out. Springs in Seville can be vary changing – it can be scorching hot or it can rain cats and dogs. So bring a hat or raincoat to protect the children. Avoid umbrellas because you’ll risk harming someone, and people will tell you to close it if you’re obstructing their view.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Clothing is key, it should be comfortable and cool, especially if it’s very hot. However, bring a sweater or a light coat because it cools down after sunset, and weather conditions can be variable.
  • Lead by example. Make an effort to maintain a respectful attitude. Remember that you’re all attending a religious procession, so shouting, laughing and loud noises are prohibited.

3. Look for the less formal processions

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:

  • Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday): La Borriquita, La Paz, and La Estrella.
  • Lunes Santo (Monday): San Pablo (El Polígono) and San Gonzalo.
  • Martes Santo (Tuesday): El Cerro del Águila and San Benito.
  • Miércoles Santo (Wednesday): El Carmen Doloroso, La Sed and San Bernardo.
  • Jueves Santo (Thursday): Montesión.
  • Viernes Santo (Friday): La O.
  • Sábado Santo (Saturday): El Sol.

However, most of them have children that are part of the procession. So you shouldn’t limit yourself to the ones listed above:

4. Find open areas to watch the processions

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:

  • Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday):
    • La Paz at the María Luisa Park.
    • La Estrella as it crosses the Triana Bridge or along Avenida de los Reyes Católicos.
  • Lunes Santo (Monday):
    • San Pablo (El Polígono) in its neighborhood and along the way before entering the city center through Puerta Osario.
    • San Gonzalo as it crosses the Triana Bridge or along Avenida de los Reyes Católicos.
  • Martes Santo (Tuesday):
    • El Cerro del Águila in its neighborhood and along the way before entering the city center through Puerta de la Carne.
    • San Benito in its neighborhood and along the way before entering the city center through Puerta Carmona.
  • Miércoles Santo (Wednesday):
    • El Carmen Doloroso when it goes through the Alameda de Hércules.
    • La Sed in its neighborhood and along Eduardo Dato.
    • San Bernardo in its neighborhood and along Demetrio de los Ríos before entering the city center through Puerta de la Carne.
  • Jueves Santo (Thursday): Montesión when it takes the Alameda de Hércules far end.
  • Viernes Santo (Friday): La O as it crosses the Triana Bridge or along Avenida de los Reyes Católicos.
  • Sábado Santo (Saturday): El Sol in its neighborhood and along Eduardo Dato.

5. Tell them to create a wax ball

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…

6. Teach them to ask nazarenos for a gift

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.

7. What to do if your children are tired

Strollers are a 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.

8. Where can you find a toilet during Holy Week in Seville?

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. What are the Semana Santa brotherhoods (hermandades)
10. Semana Santa glossary

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