Semana Santa, or Holy Week, runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and is one of the best times to visit Antigua  for the elaborate Catholic pageantry surrounding these holy days. Visitors come from around the world to see the colorful, solemn processions in which life-size images of Christ and other Catholic icons are paraded through the city’s cobblestone streets.
Before the processions pass through, Antigueños design and produce exquisite, though ephemeral, alfombras, or carpets made of colored sawdust and flowers. The parade floats, or andas, pass over the carpets, forever erasing their elaborate patterns under the feet of faithful cucuruchos, purple-clad bearers who carry the floats, which can weigh up to 3.5 tons and require 80 men to carry them.
The bearers are accompanied by Roman soldiers and other robed figures who carry swaying, copal-laden incense burners. It can be quite a moving experience to see the swaying floats with images of a cross-bearing Christ bearing down on the men amid thick smoke.
A highlight of the week’s festivities is a Good Friday event occurring at 3 a.m. in which Roman soldiers on horseback gallop through the streets proclaiming Christ’s death sentence. Though several local churches participate in the festivities, the largest procession is the one leaving from Iglesia y Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Merced  on Good Friday with the 17th-century image of Jesús Nazareno (Jesus of Nazareth).
Another well-known procession is that of the Escuela de Cristo, which features some striking images on its parade floats.
For specifics on Holy Week events, head to the INGUAT office (corner of 2a Calle Oriente and 2a Avenida Norte, 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2:30–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2:30–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun.) on the central plaza, where you’ll find free maps and event schedules.
If you plan to take in the festivities, book far in advance, as word about Antigua’s Holy Week events has been out for quite some time and accommodations fill up several months ahead with foreign visitors and vacationing Guatemalans.