Santigo de Compostela is welcoming pilgrims again: Find out what you can expect in this very special Holy Year!
With the good news regarding a decrease in the numbers of Covid-19 infections life is slowly going back to normal. Although the previous recommendations of social distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene are still in place, land borders have reopened. And do you know what that means? It means pilgrims can, once again, walk the Camino de Santiago!
If walking the Camino has been on your bucket list, then there’s a good chance you know that 2021 is a Holy Year. This happens when Saint James’ Day (25th July) falls on a Sunday and it is always a time of great celebration.
Extension of the Xacobeo until the end of 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it big changes to international travel, but because of these exceptional circumstances, and for the first time ever, the Pope has announced the extension of this Holy Year throughout 2022. Although this is the first time when the Jubilee will last for 2 years, it had already undergone deep modifications during the Spanish civil war, when it had to be postponed.
This news has been very well received by the pilgrim community: those walking the Camino will be able to avoid crowds and have more time to complete their pilgrimage. Being a Jacobeo it would be normal to expect an increase in the number of pilgrims, but because of Covid-19 that doesn’t seem to be the case this year, as fewer crowds are expected. The Camino experience should be much calmer and because it is an outdoor activity, where it is naturally easier to keep socially distant, it is also among the safest travel experiences right now. What better time to walk the Camino? This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
The Xacobeo however is also a cultural experience, with many events taking place in several towns along the Way of Saint James. This Jacobean Year is even more special and you can expect a multitude of several new aspects. Stick with us and we’ll show you around!
What’s new in this Holy Year?
One big piece of news is that after almost 10 years of works the Cathedral of Santiago is ready to welcome pilgrims with many renovated elements. The main naves, sculptures, the crypt, the stained-glass windows, and the vaults of the main chapel, where the remains of Santiago are kept, are among the parts that were renovated. This is an unparalleled occasion to visit the Cathedral in all its renewed splendor.
Every year there are big celebrations associated with the Apostle Santiago. Although July 24th and 25th are the two main days, the festivities last for about a fortnight. Bearing in mind that this year it will also be a Jacobeo and that it will be prolonged until the end of 2022, you can expect something truly unique!
Traditionally, on the night of July 24th there is an impressive display of fireworks along with the burning of a large pyrotechnic castle simulating the Cathedral’s Gothic façade. The 25th, also Galicia’s day, is when you can witness the famous giant censer, known as botafumeiro, swinging through the Cathedral during High Mass.
This is a time for plenty of music (mostly traditional and including bagpipes), dance, and theater, among other activities. One of the highlights of this Holy Year will be the Alfombra Mundial, which will be the world’s largest flower carpet: the design focuses on the scallop shell, the main symbol of the Camino, and will be put together by artists from a total of 250 cities from 27 countries around the world.
All along the main churches and cathedrals of the Camino, there will also be a series of concerts for church organ. Being inside an old cathedral in Europe listening to a church organ being played is the sort of experience you won’t easily come across in the 21st century, so make sure you grab this chance.
If, however, you’re more interested in something less traditional, then you’ll be glad to know there will also be several activities of astronomical observation. How is this related to the Camino? Well, the word Compostela derives from campus stellae (meaning “field of stars”) and is connected to a legend that says that stars pointed towards the place where the tomb of the Apostle Santiago was found.
We recommend you regularly check the official Xacobeo 21-22 website (https://consejojacobeox21.es/en/) for the most updated information on all events. This website has an English version as well.
This Holy Year brings with it a very important step in adapting the experience of the Camino to the 21st century but also in avoiding crowds and long waiting times: the digital Pilgrim Passport. The Pilgrim Office stated that both the digital and the paper Pilgrim Passport are valid options, so rest assured if you prefer the classic paper version. This digital passport is a mobile app available for iOS and Android and will be available in eight languages. The app will work on any route and, just as with the traditional pilgrim passport, you must have two stamps per day. In this case, there will be QR codes in different points of the Camino, through which you can download the stamps to the app on your phone.
With us, you can feel safe in planning your Way
There are many routes to Santiago de Compostela: all you have to do is choose the one you prefer and let us take care of the rest! At Portugal Green Walks, we offer tailor-made services that are a perfect fit for you and your needs, so you can have a truly exclusive experience.
Inspire yourself and choose the Route that you most identify with. You can find diversity, friendly people, good food, and unique landscapes on the Portuguese Camino. The Atlantic sea, beaches, rivers, fortresses, millenary cities, beautiful and quiet landscapes, exceptional gastronomy, and the best sea fish in the world is what awaits you.
All the changes that have been put into place have improved the experience of walking the Camino but have also made it safer, in light of the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Santiago de Compostela waits for you with open arms in this Holy Year and Portugal Green Walks is your best partner in this experience. We are a local specialist on the Way of Saint James, particularly the Portuguese one. We know the routes like the back of our hands and can advise you with the confidence that comes from experience and knowledge!
After booking your program, you have the option of canceling or requesting a new date up to 30 days before the date of travel. And what’s even better? All of this comes with no additional costs and a refund guaranteed.
We look forward to seeing you soon and saying to you buen Camiño!