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Celebrating Semana Santa & Pascua in Puerto Vallarta

April 7, 2017

In Mexico, the Easter holidays include Semana Santa (April 9-16), and Pascua (April 17-23). This two-week vacation enables thousands of families from all over Mexico to enjoy Puerto Vallarta beaches.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Easter, known as Semana Santa, is the most celebrated holiday in México, and a time of national vacation and "spring break" from schools.

Tourism authorities estimate that 1 out of every 5 Mexicans - around 20 million people - will travel during Holy Week, and Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular beach destinations for nationals looking for a few days of fun-in-the-sun.

Every year, Semana Santa brings thousands of exuberant Mexicans intent on having a good time to Puerto Vallarta and the beaches of Banderas Bay. The influx of tourists to the beach means that there will be one heck of a party wherever you go, as families camp or spend the entire day frolicking at the beach. Area hotels are at peak capacity, streets are overrun with cars and buses, and convenience stores are not very convenient during the two celebratory weeks of Semana Santa and Semana de Pascua.

One of the oldest traditions in México, Semana Santa is an artistic and cultural event of major importance, with everyone - young and old, rich and poor - actively participating in the celebrations.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrates the last days of Jesus Christ's life. This year, the week-long celebration begins on April 9 with Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), the day of Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. On this day, vendors outside churches sell woven palm leaves, and inside the priest blesses them.


The Last Supper was held on Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday), which falls on April 13 this year, followed by Viernes Santo (Good Friday), which commemorates the day of Christ's crucifixion. On this day, the full Passion Play is enacted, from the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgment, the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. The enactment, which traditionally takes place on the Malecón extension just south of the main plaza, is nicely staged, costumed and acted, with participants preparing for their roles for nearly the full year leading up to Semana Santa.

On April 15, Mexico celebrates Sábado de Gloria (Holy Saturday), memorializing the full day Christ was in the tomb. Statues of Mary are covered with black dresses, because she is considered to be in mourning. April 16th is Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday), celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. In churches throughout the city, special masses are held on Jueves Santo, Viernes Santo, Sábado de Gloria, and Domingo de Pascua.

But Semana Santa is much more than a religious occasion. In fact, hundreds of people who come to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Easter Week are not even Catholic. Like all holidays in Latin countries, Semana Santa is also a festive occasion, a time of celebration that lasts two weeks, when people come together to socialize and enjoy themselves.

The week following Easter Sunday is called Pascua, which is the celebration of the Resurrection. Pascua marks the release from the sacrifices of Lent . . . and Vallarta goes into full-on party mode! The beaches are bursting, the streets are jammed, and the Malecón is filled with people enjoying food, fireworks, and live entertainment.

While it may sound a bit chaotic, Semana Santa and Pascua are probably some of the most festive and exciting times to visit Puerto Vallarta. If you wish to witness the beauty of traditional Mexican culture - and enjoy the excitement of a two-week-long party in Puerto Vallarta - Semana Santa and Pascua would be well worth experiencing for yourself.

Editors Note: As we begin the Semana Santa/Semana Pascua holidays, the need for blood in Puerto Vallarta increases significantly. Please consider giving the Gift of Life, keeping in mind that donation requirements in Mexico are different than in the United States and Canada. For more information, click HERE.