Semana Santa in Medellin

Procession for Semana Santa
Procession for Semana Santa

The Holy Week of Easter is the most important Catholic religious festival in South America. Semana Santa, Holy Week, celebrates the last days of Christ’s life, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, as well as the end of Lent. Semana Santa is observed with a range of celebrations, from the most solemnly religious, to a mix of pagan/Catholic, to commercial. There is a four day long weekend in Medellin so it’s party time!!   — from

As 90% of Colombia’s population is Roman Catholic, Semana Santa in Medellin is a big deal.

Universities are closed, people travel to other parts of the country (the coast being especially popular), and companies give employees at least a 4-day weekend (Thurs, April  9 – Sun, April 12), if not longer.

I had heard you can see processions in the street with people carrying figures of Jesus Christ.  I didn’t have to look hard, as I encountered my first one while awaiting a bus in Poblado to Casa Kiwi Hostel to type this post.

A pick-up truck was driving slowly, playing loud, somber music, while an MC (or priest), would occasionally chime in with spoken word.

People young and old, including parents with newborns in strollers, slowly walked down the street.  Many of them were carrying palm leaves.

If anyone knows the significance of them, please leave a comment!

I hope to seek out a few more events this week, whether by hanging around some of the churches, or mere luck.

Colombians reflect during Semana Santa
Colombians reflect during Semana Santa

As a result of this religious holiday, my few English classes have been interrupted.

One student is on vacation with her family, and said it would be a full two weeks before she might have time again to meet, while another has the week off from work and asked if I could come to her home for classes.

It is safe to say most people’s minds are not on learning English this week, which I can understand, though it doesn’t put money in my pocket!

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  1. hi David ,

    thank you 4 you’re great article,

    i am planning a trip to Medellin,

    but i was wondering you day it’s a party week, but are all the shops and restaurants open during this period?

    thank you very much

    Meryl Bergraaf,

    South America

    • A lot of shops and smaller mom ‘n pop restaurants close for Semana Santa, which is why Medellin feels very quiet during this holiday. Many Colombians travel to nearby pueblos or the beach.

  2. Hello

    First time in Medellin we fly holy Thursday – Easter Monday of holy week. We are staying in el pablado but have read mixed reviews regarding nightlife… Is it worth staying in el pablado during this time? Is there any nightlife at all in Medellin during this period??


  3. The palm branches commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, where the crowd welcomed him with palm branches (John 12:13). This event is celebrated every year on Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. I will arrive in Medellin this year on Tuesday of Holy Week, to celebrate with my friends the Easter Triduum (three days) – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday – leading up to Easter Sunday.