Holy Week in Seville (Semana Santa en Sevilla) is one of the most important traditional events of the city. It is celebrated in the week leading up to Easter, one to two weeks before the city's other great celebration, the Feria, and is amongst the largest religious events within Spain, internationally renowned for its drama. The week features the procession of pasos, floats of lifelike wooden sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion, or images of the Virgin Mary showing restrained grief for the torture and killing of her son. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces.
During Holy Week, the city is crowded with residents and visitors, drawn by the spectacle and atmosphere. The impact is particularly strong for the Catholic community.
The processions are organised by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods. During the processions, members precede the pasos (of which there are up to three in each procession) dressed in penitential robes, and, with few exceptions, hoods. They may also be accompanied by brass bands.
The processions work along the shortest route from the home churches and chapels to the Cathedral, usually via a central viewing area and back. The processions from the suburban barrios may take 14 hours to return to their home churches.
As of 2007, a total of 59 processions are scheduled for the week, from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday morning. The climax of the week is the night of Maundy Thursday, when the most popular processions set out to arrive at the Cathedral on the dawn of Good Friday, known as the madrugá.