4 years, 7 months ago
If you’re thinking of celebrating Easter this year you might like to know that Good Friday is planned for April 3rd and Easter Sunday is definitely happening on the 5th. So how are you planning to spend the most moveable of all annual holidays this year? The French focus on bell ringing in a big way – although just on Easter Sunday because until then all the country’s bells are off in Rome visiting the Pope apparently. Generous German parents ply their offspring with baskets of sweets and gifts. Spain celebrates Semana Santa and does a lot of heavy lifting and hood wearing. The US is big on bonnets and parades. Belgium makes even more chocolate than usual. Scotland paints eggs and rolls them down hills – very canny folk the Scots. And the English are fond of clues and puzzles and hunting for stuff.
Are you a traditionalist or mad for chicks and rabbits and ridiculous hats? Will anything in glittery paper win your heart or are you taken by the gentle charm of hard boiled eggs? Is a parade part of your Easter plan or will you be celebrating the Holy Week all week long? Here are some places that know exactly what they’ll be up to in early April this year.
The Dutch are always delighted when Easter falls at the start of April. It’s tulip season and if there’s anything more spring like and holiday mood-making than acres of multi-coloured flowers we’ve yet to see it. Obviously Amsterdam itself isn’t awash with tulip fields. But the city’s famous Floating Flower Market and the magnificent Hortus Botanicus make much of the iconic blooms from late March to May. And if you really want floral over-indulgence take an Easter Sunday trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof for the world’s largest flower fair. Child centred as ever, Amsterdam has holiday events all over the city from April 3rd to April 6th. Most petting zoos have special parties planned so expect plenty of chick and rabbit nonsense to be had. The Artis Royal Zoo has an entire Easter programme. And if you’re visiting the city on April 5th it’s Easter Sunday and that is all about Brunch in Amsterdam – we recommend the floating and feasting experience of the Pannenkoekenboot (pancake boat), worth it for the name alone.
If you ever needed a reason to visit New York, the 5th Avenue Easter Parade would do just fine. It’s been a city tradition since the late 19th century and hasn’t got any less outrageous and extravagant with age. Whether you’re an infant or a chihuahua, old, young, in between, if you’ve got a head, you can wear a bonnet on Easter Sunday and parade from 49th to 57th Street with the best of them. The event normally begins around 10am and goes on until 4pm attracting 10s of 1000s of participants. So, even if you can’t bring yourself to wear a hat and take part, go and watch. Bag an early spot round about St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the best views, it’s an iconic Easter experience.
Holy Week or Semana Santa, is Spain’s most important festival and celebrated in some form in every village, town and city. The drama and sheer passion is mesmerising. No one ever forgets the sight of eerily hooded penitents marching by torchlight to the beat of a solitary drum or the sight of the vast, ornate, canopied Madonnas carried ceremoniously through ancient city streets. But for all its Gothic ritual and ceremony, Semana Santa is essentially a celebration and, depending on where you go, it can be quite a party too. We like the pilgrimage tradition of Santiago de Compostela in the North. But for exuberance and weather our true Semana Santa loyalties always fall in favour of the South and in particular Seville. This year’s dates are perfect for Seville’s mild, sunny spring days and warm evenings. There will still be a hint of orange blossom in the air and the beautiful, historic city centre is going to be filled to bursting with locals and visitors. This is one of the biggest and most spectacular Semana Santa celebrations in Spain (Seville has over 60 brotherhoods) and attracts huge crowds. We would be lying if we told you it wasn’t dauntingly busy at times, but the atmosphere is amazing and it’s something you’ve got to do at least once in a lifetime.