The week leading up to Easter is celebrated widely across Spain but one of the grandest festivals of all can be found in Seville, the city more commonly known for flamenco and bull-fighting.

The Semana Santa de Sevilla (Holy Week in Seville) runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday (March 29 to April 5 2015). Each day, up to 3,000 nazarenos (Nazarenes), members of local churches’ brotherhoods, participate in a procession dressed in monk-like habits and pointed hoods. The journey begins from their home churches to reach the official route to the city’s Cathedral, with some taking 14 hours to complete the pilgrimage. They are accompanied by penitents (in habits and hoods as well, carrying wooden crosses as a sign of public penance), altar boys and, occasionally, a brass band blowing and beating out mournful tunes.

Costaleros (literally “sack men”) support beams from underneath the pasos (floats), carrying larger-than-life religious effigies, some dating as far back as the 17th century and each featuring a scene from the Easter story. Despite the fact that they spend the entire journey concealed by the pasos, it is considered a tremendous honour to be selected as a costalero, for the volunteers far outnumber the places available.

Throughout the city, thousands wait out in the streets for the processions and when one passes through its own district, it is greeted with confetti and flower petals. Although the processions resemble Carnivale in mourning, for most of the week, the atmosphere is one of revelry and gaiety, with bars open day and night and Sevillan families out in full force at all hours.