HORSE PILGRIMAGE EL ROCIO
Pilgrimages in Spain are very popular. One of the most renowned is "El Rocio" and one of the most popular ways to do it is on horseback or in one of the carretas (decorated wagons), journeying through the marshlands and sleeping out in the open.
On Sunday night no-one sleeps in anticipation of being able to enter the church and join in the procession of the Blanca Paloma (White Dove), by which the Virgin of El Rocío is known. The most exciting moment of all is the salto (leap), when the people of the nearby town of Almonte enter the shrine, leaping over the railings, and lead their Virgin in procession through the village. In the camps, when night falls, the pilgrims drink, sing and dance. The sound of flamenco guitars and tambourines, carried on the sandy wind, animate the night.
Candles, torches and flares illuminate the simpecados, a banner of the Virgin transported under an elaborately decorated canopy, one for each hermandad, while thousands of people sing the Mysteries in honour of Our Lady, reeling off the prayer like pearls of love.
Although the main pilgrimage in 2019 is in June, 8th-10th, there are many pilgrimages to the small village of El Rocio throughout the year that you can enjoy on horseback.