What to do during Semana Santa in Medellin 2019
You would think that in a place that loves to drink aguardiente, party and be happy that this four-day weekend would be an epic time to party. Wrong! Semana Santa in Medellin is pretty boring if you have no family and/or if you are not religious.
A few years ago, this was the most boring holiday to be in the city for. However, with the recent influx of tourists, more places are open, so you won’t be die of bored if you decide to stay in the city.
Semana Santa is what we call in English Holy Week or Greek Week.
Colombia is predominantly Catholic and holidays pretty much revolve around the church. This means that the whole week before Easter is a holiday.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the annual commemoration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of new testament’s protagonist Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Aside from my personal spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), I think that most religious texts are interesting and entertaining to read. I love to read about murder, sex, betrayal, magic, and self-righteousness, and the bible has it all.
Semana Santa 2019 is from April 14 to April 20
Holy week starts on Sunday, April 14, 2019, called: Domingo de Ramas (Palm Sunday). It is a commemoration of the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem. The beginning of the end for Jesus.
It is a pretty cool story because Jesus came upon the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem and saw all of the commerce in the temple, people selling animals, currency traders, etc, and like a real gangster he threw all their shit all over the place and kicked them out of his “father’s house.”
I always get a kick out of that story because here in Colombia wherever you see a church there is commerce, and in downtown Medellin near Parque Bolivar and the church is where most of the transsexual prostitutes and drug dealers hang out.
Now here’s a video about Jesus that makes me laugh out loud…
Monday – Lunes Santo (Holy Monday)
Many stores and restaurants are closed around the city and the best thing to do is perhaps read a book or watch a movie. Many small towns around Medellin have Semana Santa celebrations so it’s cool to get out of the city and go enjoy that.
Forget about getting drunk and dancing on Lunes Santo in Medellin.
Tuesday – Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday)
Like Monday, this day is a snore. It’s best to be out of town for this one. Unless you are like me and like history. It’s cool to go during the day to one of the big churches in the city like the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown located in Parque Bolivar (were all the tranny hookers are at night). This is my favorite church in Medellin, it has a small museum next to it with a secret room with art dating back to the 17th century.
Mass is usually about another interesting story in the Bible: The Last Supper, Judas’ betrayal, and Peter’s denial of Jesus.
Wednesday – Miércoles Santo (Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday)
I’ve read a few holy scriptures, like the Quran, Torah, The Sutras, etc. and have found them entertaining, but one of the most entertaining stories of all is Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in the New Testament.
The gospel on Wednesday is dedicated to Judas’ arranging his betrayal with the high priests. For this reason, we call it Spy Wednesday.
Wednesday is a party night in Medellin!
Since Thursday and Friday are a holiday, Wednesday is like a mini Friday. Here are some top spots to party at.
- Babylon – This club typically has an open bar ($32,000 cover for guys, $15,000 for women)on Thursdays every week, but during holy week it’s on Wednesday. The first 200 girls get in free. Damn! The only problem is that it’s located near all the hostels (there’s a hostel literally next door) so by 10:00 pm it’s an oasis of beautiful women but by 11:00 pm it’s full of backpackers. Therefore, I recommend getting there early.
- Bendito Seas – This is another club that typically has ladies night/open bar on Thursdays, but on Holy Week it’s on Wednesday. This place gets fewer foreigners because it’s a little hidden. The music is basically the same as Babylon (crossover) and the crowd is usually university aged. The cover is also $32,000 for guys, $15,000 for women and free for the first 100 women.
- Vintrash – This place is awesome. They have 4 floors (including a basement) all with different music ranging from electronica to crossover. They have a cover, I believe it’s $20,000. No open bar, but they have cool drink specials usually. It’s right in Provenza and opens till 3:00 am.
- Doxis – This is the only club I like going to in Barrio Colombia because it’s the only one that plays reggaeton and hip-hop. They’re advertising DJ’s tonight. Sounds interesting.
- La Garganta – this place is pretty popular for being a girls night out club. The music is crossover and the drinks are reasonably priced.
- Dublin – This place is awesome. You will not find one foreigner up in there, also, smoking weed is normal in there. They’re advertising an Electro Urbano night tonight, which probably means reggaeton and hip-hop mixed in with electronica.
- La Tienda – This is a fonda, which is pretty much like a tavern style bar/restaurant/club. It’s got lots of tables and no dance floor. So it’s best to go with a group of friends. It gets packed, so go early.
Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday)
If you’re in Medellin I feel sorry for you. This is the beginning of the most boring weekend of the year in the city. Thursday and Friday are a national holiday, therefore, almost all stores and restaurants will be closed in the city. It’s best to go out to a small town and enjoy the parades. Most small towns have special events all week. Granted they’re all religious based events, at night you’ll find people out having drinks and dancing.
Viernes Santo (Good Friday)
In Medellin Good Friday is booooring, it’s a national holiday and that means people stay home to “tirar locha,” which means to bum around. When I was an English teacher here, I would ask my students what they do for Holy Week and most of them do nothing. They just hang around the house watching movies, and being lazy. They don’t even go to church, as a matter of fact, most do not even know why we take Holy Week off.
- Kukaramakara – This place is a higher end (more expensive) club than the ones in Lleras and the music can be more electronica, but still a fun time. They’re advertising that they’re open on Friday and Saturday, so I’m sure it’ll be packed.
Saturday & Sunday (Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday)
In Medellin, the city is dead for the most part. Whether I go to a small town to party on the weekend or I stay in the city to just relax and enjoy the empty streets I always enjoy Semana Santa in Medellin.
Surrounding towns are fun. I did some research and found some great places to visit during Semana Santa.
Pueblos around Medellin to Visit
1. Girardota, Antioquia, Colombia – Semana Santa
Girardota is only 30 minutes from Medellin. It gets around 60,000 visitors during holy week. Yeah that’s a ton of people! Over 20,000 of those people walk (some barefoot and/or crawling) from Medellin to the church, it’s pretty intense. With over 60,000 people there should be some parties on Friday and Saturday night, right? I’ll be checking Girardota out this year for sure.
2. Angostura, Antioquia, Colombia – Semana Santa
This looks like a fun road trip to a place that might creep you out a bit. Angostura is a very small pueblo (about 11,500 inhabitants) three hours north of Medellin. It looks like a fun road trip though. I prefer to rent a car and head out with friends instead of taking a bus out of el terminal del norte. You’d take the northern rout through Barbosa, which is a nice place to stop and have drink, then continue on till you get to Gomez Plata, another small town (about 16,000 inhabitants) that’s charming and beautiful. They also have their own Semana Santa processions and festivities. After a stop there to visit the church and the museum you can continue north to Angostura.
Angostura is visited by many during Holy Week because it is home to the legendary Father Mariano (Padre Marianito). At the church in the main square, Iglesia Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá, you’ll find the remains of Father Mariano, as you can see in the video below. It’s pretty creepy but interesting. Father Mariano is a legend for his work with farmers and the poor and for miracles performed. Yes, miracles. In 1999 Pope Juan Pablo II granted his final approval to the healing he performed as being a credible miracle on 26 March 1999 and beatified the priest on 9 April 2000 in Saint Peter’s Square. Pretty cool right? I mean you can go see this guy’s body laid out in the church, a guy who has been beatified and will probably be sanctified one day. Selfie time!
In all seriousness though, I like theology and would love to go see this.
I am a single guy and my friends are also single, so what’s the nightlife like in Angostura?
I searched online for a “hotel en angostura” and nothing came up. The next thing I did was look for “restaurante en angostura” and only came up with one result Restaurante Marianito, but I couldn’t find a phone number, facebook page or website for it. I did however find the Angostura town hall’s facebook page. I messaged them:
soy turista y me gustaria visitar a Angostura durante semana santa
tenia unas preguntas
1. Donde encuentro un hotel?
2. hay restaurantes, bares, discotecas abiertas el sabado en la noche?
But they didn’t answer. I should have known on the basis that their last facebook post update was in November 2015, lol.
Anyway, even if it’s just to go see Father Mariano’s body and check out the tiny town’s religious processions, it looks like fun. And if I really feel like partying, the town of Yarumal (26,000 inhabitants) is only a few minutes north.
3. Marinilla, Antioquia, Colombia – Semana Santa
This town is only an hour and a half east of Medellin, just past the Rio Negro airport. I’ve been there during semana santa and it’s fun. The town hosts a religious music festival. People from all over come to participate and enjoy the music. At night the town square fills up with about 5,000 people or more. Lot’s of drinking goes on. For a single guy…don’t go there thinking you’re going to pick up girls. It’s best to take a girl or to go with friends.
4. Jerico, Antioquia, Colombia – Semana Santa
This is home to Madre Laura, the first sanctified Colombian by the catholic church. So you know they’re religious as fuck there. According to statistics more than 5,000 tourist visit this town in the southwest region of Antioquia. I’ve never been to this town, but upon research I found that they have parades and parties during semana santa. This is Jerico’s official website, they even have a bulletin with tips for traveling there during holy week.
5. Santa Fe De Antioquia, Semana Santa
Santa Fe is a usual tourist spot during the year. It’s great because it’s warmer than Medellin and there are places with pools to chill at. For semana santa thousands flock there to watch the religious processions. I’m assuming that the nightlife on Friday and Saturday has to be good with that many people there.
I spoke to the manager at the restaurant La Comedia, which is very popular, said that on Friday they open till 11:00 pm and on Saturday they’re open until 12:00 pm. I asked him if other restaurants, bars, and dance clubs open late, and he said that there’s a noise restriction till Saturday. So the whole week is chill and people party on Saturday night.
6. San Pedro de los Milagros
This is a cool place for a day trip. You can hang out in town for the day and come back to Medellin in the evening.
Interesting facts about the town:
- It produces the most milk in all of Colombia, 750.000 liters per day.
- The most accurate replica of Michelangelo’s The Pietà (La Piedad in Spanish) at the church.
- Home of the world’s largest cow, Manuela. There’s a dairy themed park called Vía Láctea, which has a big cow statue. It also has a restaurant and zip-lining.
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About the writer – Andrew Macia
Hello, my name is Andrew Macia and the Medellin Buzz is my blog. I moved to Medellin in 2010 and fell in love with the city. I taught advanced level English for four years and then started a digital marketing company.
I love Colombia, and Medellin is my home. I like to write and I want to give back to the community. This is the best way I know how. I hope you enjoy my blog!
About the Medellin Buzz
I started the Medellin Buzz as a resource for my English as a foreign language students. A site where they could read about their city in English, that wasn’t boring. It slowly turned into a personal blog and hub for information for people discovering Medellin. I check comments frequently, so feel free to leave your comment and/or questions below.