Top destinations for... an Easter getaway
Hoping to get away this Easter and not sure where to go? Our list of top Easter destinations will give you plenty of inspiration.
As the sun begins to peer from behind the clouds and daffodils come into bloom, Easter looms temptingly on the horizon. There may be less than a month to go until it arrives, but there is still time to book a seasonal getaway, whether you want to make the most of the Bank Holidays or indulge in a somewhat longer break.
Europe is a natural choice for a short Easter holiday, thanks to its brief journey times and the abundance of colourful Easter festivities that take place throughout. However, there are also some brilliant options a little further afield. For a soupcon of seasonal travel inspiration, our top six destinations are bound to give you ideas for an Easter adventure.
Staging Easter celebrations that are as fascinating as they are visually spectacular, Florence is a fabulous destination to explore at this time of year – particularly if you can be here on Easter Sunday itself. This is when the wonderful Scoppio del Carro or 'Explosion of the Cart' takes place – a stunning display that blends centuries of tradition with modern pyrotechnics.
Beginning with a procession at 10am, this annual event is centred on the famous Piazza del Duomo. At this time, the Easter candle is lit; the coals in the procession cart are lit with the same flame. This 'Holy Fire' forms the centre of the procession and is delivered to the Archbishop of Florence at the city's world-famous Duomo. Then, at 11am, this same flame is used to light a rocket which speeds down a wire to ignite the fireworks in the cart, resulting in an utterly spectacular Easter display.
Of course, all of Florence's year-round charms will be present to allure you too, from its indulgent gelatos (the perfect Easter treat!) to its spellbinding architecture.
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Another city that stages sensational Easter celebrations is Seville. Indeed, this is one of the finest places in Spain to spend the season if you are keen to observe some historic traditions; Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is passionately celebrated by the local citizens.
Holy Week is the seven days running up to Easter, which this year falls from March 29th to April 5th, and it's a time for colourful processions, music, art and religious devotion. The splendour of these festivities is enhanced by Seville's unique charm – its cobbled streets, picturesque palaces, and pretty orange blossoms.
Among the most interesting features of these processions are the pasos or sculptures, which are used for religious depiction – usually of Christ's suffering or the Virgin Mary. Adorned with attire such as velvet cloaks and silver and gold crowns, these statues create a unique spectacle. The processions take place every night during Holy Week, so there are plenty of opportunities to observe the city's traditional celebrations – but it is particularly worth doing so early in the morning on Good Friday, when the most important celebrations take place.
Returning to Italy, our next suggestion is Rome. With the Vatican being the heart of the Catholic world, it of course hosts magnificent Easter events. One thing to bear in mind is that its status as a Christian pilgrimage site enhances its popularity over Easter, so this is a particularly busy time to visit.
Do not be deterred by the crowds, though, as the atmosphere in the city is simply wonderful during this time. Indeed, it would be easy to come here and do little more than enjoy the ambience, but there are some Easter traditions that are well worth seeing. For example, on Good Friday the Pope begins to lead a candlelight procession that retraces the Via Crucis – and culminates in a vast open-air Mass on Easter Sunday.
Don't forget to take a peek in Rome's fabulous chocolate shops too; they really unleash their creative flair during the Easter period.
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Like Seville, Barcelona celebrates Holy Week each year. However, being a less religious destination than the former, the city is a good choice if you like the sound of seeing a smattering of tradition but focusing on sightseeing and indulgence.
And indeed, what a place to indulge Barcelona is – this city excels at pastries (Escriba being a particularly wonderful place to purchase them) and thick, rich hot chocolates. There are few more appropriate occasions to treat yourself to these local delicacies than the Easter season, which is of course always heaven for true chocoholics.
Of course, Barcelona has much more to offer than its culinary flair alone (and it's worth bearing in mind that this extends far beyond sweet treats to beautiful tapas and sensational seafood). Describing a city as 'having it all' is certainly a cliche, but in the case of Barcelona this particular cliche holds a great deal of truth. From sweeping beaches and world-renowned architecture to an incredible nightlife and an abundance of museums and galleries, this metropolis is somewhere to return to time and time again.
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Moving a little further afield, Marrakesh is a great choice for an Easter break. You won't find the large-scale Easter celebrations of Europe, but what you will get is a vibrant mix of bustling souks, interesting architecture and endlessly tempting gastronomy. Indeed, keen food lovers can even book themselves on a culinary tour of this marvellous city - the perfect way to discover its unique flavours and cooking styles.
Among the must-see highlights is the Djemma el Fna Square, the city's endlessly energetic meeting point. Perpetually filled with throngs of people, this dynamic place is almost like live theatre, with its mix of snake charmers, musicians, acrobats and other entertainers. What's more, when the sun begins to slip below the horizon, food stalls arrive in their droves, offering some of the most exciting and interesting fare in the city.
Alternatively, take the opportunity to spend a few days in Istanbul. As Turkey is an Islamic country, it is another destination where you won't find large-scale Easter celebrations, but rather a culturally rich city that offers excitement and intrigue at every turn.
Indeed, the eclectic mix of things to see and do paired with cultural diversity makes Istanbul a place that instantly enthrals. A city where east meets west, it is home to beautiful mosques, bustling markets, stunning palaces and fabulous food. Be sure to spend some time exploring the Sultanahmet, where you'll find a cluster of historic sites, shops and restaurants all within easy walking distance of one another. And, for a particularly charming Easter outing, take a cruise along the Bosphorus River and discover the city's Asian and European shores.
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- Tags: Cox & Kings Staff, Europe, Italy, Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Short Breaks, Spain, Turkey