Saint James festivities firework at the Cathedral de Santiago

That’s a Wrap! Holy Year 2021-2022 comes to an end!

As 2022 comes to an end, we wanted to look back and review this extraordinary Holy Year “Ano Xacobeo” for the Camino.

And when we say “extraordinary” we truly mean it: due to the pandemic, the Holy Year of 2021 was extended for the first time ever and lasted an extra 12 months! There was a plethora of events, additional church services, and thousands more people flocking to the pilgrimage trails than in a normal year.

In fact, 2022 has been a record-breaking year for the Camino. On September 21st, more than 347,578 Compostelas were issued, beating the 2019 record of pilgrims arriving in Santiago. And the number just kept getting higher day by day!

In the summer, between 2,000 and 3,000 pilgrims arrived each day in Santiago. Some days, even more than 4,000 people reached the Cathedral!

As a “double Holy Year”, something unique happened:

The Holy Door remained opened

According to Jacobean tradition, pilgrims who walk to Santiago de Compostela during a Holy Year and pass-through this special Door into the Santiago Cathedral are forgiven all their sins. In this particular Xacobeo, the Holy Door was opened on January 1st, 2021, and will close on December 31st, 2022.

Once the Holy Door closes by the end of the year, it will remain closed until the next Xacobeo year – in 2027.

The Holy Years weren’t exceptions for the traditional events and celebrations. Here are some of the most important that occur every year:

La Ascensión – May 26th

On the 6th Thursday after Easter, Santiago celebrates the second most important festivity after the Apostle’s Day – la Ascensión. This week, cultural and recreational events are organized all over the city. There is also the most important livestock fair of the year, with exhibitions that delight locals and tourists alike.

If you ever find yourself in Santiago during this celebration, make sure to visit the Parque da Alameda and taste a portion of pulpo á feira cooked by the local specialists.

St. John – June 23rd

Galicians celebrate the night of San Juan (St. John’s eve) with a ritual celebration inherited from the pagan ages. This magical night concurs with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Cultures all over the world highlight the beginning of the summer and the victory of light over darkness.

On this night, the city is filled with bonfires (which just for this night are given the specific name of “cacharelas”) which participants jump over to drive away witchery and the evil eye of the “meigas” (the traditional name given to evil spirits in Galicia). It is traditional to eat roasted sardines, served with red wine and empanada.

People also gather (or buy) bouquets of wildflowers (including rosemary, mint, camomile, and roses, among others). These are meant to be soaked in water over the night, and used in the morning to wash one’s face.

O Son do Camiño music festival

For a few days in the summer, Santiago becomes an international music venue. People from all over the country – and all over the world! – visit the city to enjoy live music at Monte do Gozo.

In 2022, O Son do Camiño celebrated its 3rd edition with The Chemical Brothers, Liam Gallagher, Foals, Justice, C. Tangana o Editors, among others. The lineup for 2023 is about to be disclosed!

St. James Festivities – July 25th

As one can imagine, Apostle’s Day is a big deal in Santiago! Not only because the Cathedral is dedicated to St. James, but because he is the Saint Patron of Spain.

Although there are concerts, expositions, religious celebrations, and many more events during the days prior to July 25th, it’s the fireworks by the Cathedral that brings more people to Santiago. They are impressive, and definitely worth your time if you find yourself in the city on such a festive day!

“Santiago É Tapas” – November

Santiago(é)Tapas is a Santiago tapas contest promoted by Turismo de Santiago, and held from October 27 to November 13. In 2022 it celebrated its XIV edition! During these days, the public can enjoy a wide variety of tapas, grouped into various stages reminiscent of the different routes to Santiago.

What about 2023?

We are all excited for 2023, and certain that this will be a great year to visit Santiago de Compostela and walk the Camino. Santiago Turismo, the official tourism agency in Santiago is working non-stop to satisfy the high expectations locals and visitors have for the city.

Music festivals like O Son do Camiño have about to announce national and international artists, bars and restaurants are testing new recipes for the tapas contest, and the city and its neighbors are getting ready for a 2023 to be remembered.

If you don’t want to miss out, now is the time to start planning your Camino. Ask for a free quote and begin your journey today!

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